Technical documentation writers
Employee Exit Risks: The Importance of Hiring a Technical Documentation Writer 4

The Possible Dangers Involved in Employee Exits

Moving on is part of life. However, when an employee leaves your company, there is a risk of security breaches and insufficient knowledge transfer. In order to eliminate these risks, your company needs to utilize documentation services by hiring a technical documentation writer

For this purpose, skilled technical documentation writers will benefit your company.  They create documents that record the information employees know, preserving it to be used in the future. As a result, when employees leave your company, such documentation writers ensure the formers’ knowledge and sensitive information are accessible to other employees. Furthermore, when you hire a technical documentation writer, they can help safeguard sensitive and confidential information shared with company employees.

What do Technical Documentation Writers do?

Technical documentation writers are first and foremost responsible for re-interpreting complicated information and ideas so that they are clearer and easier to understand.  This, by extension, also makes them especially qualified for creating documentation that involves communicating information from an individual or party who has extensive knowledge of a particular topic or matter to a party that has comparatively less knowledge of said matter.  In the case of employee exits, this means that technical writers excel at writing documents such as exit interviews, knowledge transfer plans, and exit surveys, the purpose of which is to help the intended readers – usually the organization’s HR manager or a recently hired replacement worker – understand the views, reports, and input of the departing employee.

For example, when an employee leaves, it is necessary to teach their replacement how to perform their new duties.  However, the instructions used to teach the new employee can be complicated or confusing if their level of experience and understanding of the field they are working in are not taken into account.  Therefore, technical writers are needed to write clear and effective knowledge transfer documents to translate the information into a form the new employee can understand.

What Kind of Information is at Risk?

Some examples of sensitive information that are at risk when an employee moves on are:

  • Passwords
  • Files
  • Physical Documents
  • Keys

If not properly protected, any proprietary information, trade secrets, patents, copyrights, and trademarks owned by the company could potentially be shared or used with competitors or for personal gain. Information about the company’s financials, business strategies, marketing plans, customer lists, sales data, and other sensitive business information could also be at risk if it falls into the wrong hands.

Employee access to customer data can be significant, especially for roles in customer support, sales, or marketing. If this data is not adequately protected, it could lead to breaches of customer privacy and data security. HR records containing personal information of current and former employees must also be protected to prevent identity theft, fraud, or misuse.

For software development companies, the source code, algorithms, and other development-related information are critical assets that will need protection to prevent unauthorized use or distribution. Employee accounts and access credentials also need to be managed properly to prevent unauthorized access to company systems and data.

Internal documents, processes, and workflows that are not publicly available could be misused if they are taken outside the company. Another concern would be if an employee had access to sensitive information about vendors or partners, it could lead to issues with business relationships if misused.

The technical documentation writer must put proper procedures in place properly. If they do not, it is incredibly stressful to attempt to recover the information yourself. In order to avoid the risk of losing precious knowledge, becoming vulnerable to a security threat, or stressful, resource-consuming information recovery, a technical documentation writer must clearly define and outline the exit process.

By proactively addressing these risks and implementing appropriate security measures, companies can protect their valuable information and reduce the chances of data breaches or intellectual property theft when employees leave the organization.

Ways A Technical Writer Can Outline An Exit Process

As technical documentation writers, outlining the exit process for an employee involves creating comprehensive documentation that guides both the departing employee and the organization through the necessary steps and considerations during the transition. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to create an effective exit process outline:

1. Introduction and Purpose:
– Begin with an introduction that explains the purpose of the exit process documentation.
– Clarify that the document aims to facilitate a smooth and organized departure for employees while ensuring knowledge transfer and minimal disruptions for the organization.

2. Departure Notification:
– Outline the steps for an employee to formally notify their intention to leave the company.
– Mention whom the employee should notify, the preferred notification method (e.g., written notice or in-person meeting), and the required notice period.

3. Exit Interview:
– Detail the process for conducting an exit interview with the departing employee.
– Mention the objectives of the exit interview, confidentiality considerations, and how the information gathered will be used to improve the organization.

4. Knowledge Transfer:
– Emphasize the importance of knowledge transfer to ensure a smooth handover of responsibilities.
– Recommend the use of documentation, knowledge-sharing sessions, or mentoring arrangements between the departing employee and their successor.

5. Return of Company Property:
– Provide a list of company property that the employee must return before or on their last day.
– Include items like laptops, company-issued mobile devices, access badges, keys, and any other assets provided during employment.

6. Offboarding Checklist:
– Create a checklist that outlines the essential steps an employee should follow during their exit process.
– Include items such as finalizing pending tasks, informing colleagues and clients, submitting necessary paperwork, and clearing outstanding dues.

7. Benefits and Final Payments:
– Explain the process for handling benefits, final paychecks, accrued leaves, and other financial matters.
– Mention any required documentation or forms that need to be completed for processing these items.

8. IT Account Deactivation:
– Provide instructions for the deactivation of the departing employee’s access to company systems and accounts.
– Include details about the timing of the account deactivation and any data backup procedures.

9. Exit Survey (Optional):
– If your organization conducts exit surveys, explain how employees can participate in this feedback process.
– Highlight the importance of honest feedback and assure employees that their responses will be treated confidentially.

10. Additional Information and Support:
– Offer information on resources available to departing employees, such as career counseling, job placement assistance, or alumni networks.
– Include contact details of HR or relevant personnel whom employees can reach out to for any clarifications or support during the exit process.

11. Review and Updates:
– Encourage feedback from employees and HR representatives to improve the exit process documentation continually.
– Indicate that the document will be reviewed and updated periodically to reflect any changes in company policies or procedures.

By creating a detailed and well-organized exit process outline, technical documentation writers can assist both the departing employee and the organization in navigating the departure process with clarity and efficiency.

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What Problems are Caused by Insufficient Technical Documentation?

Aside from the loss of information itself, a lack of required technical documentation to deal with employee departures can cause a number of issues, either as an extension of the aforementioned loss of information or on their own.  One particularly common issue that can result from insufficient technical documentation is an inability for other employees to understand an important idea or complete a necessary task.  For instance, if an organization does not have technical documentation on how to maintain a piece of software, then it will have no way of ensuring said software remains functional after the employee responsible for doing so departs.

Another issue is the loss of passwords or keys that are necessary to access certain functions or resources that workers need to perform their duties, such as computer networks or tools.  This, too, can outright prevent the completion of tasks that are necessary for a company to function.

How to Prevent or Resolve these Problems

These problems can be prevented, or at least overcome, through a number of different methods.  The most common – and perhaps most obvious – method is to quite simply make sure that there are documents in place to prevent the loss of information to begin with.  This could also include having backups of such documents to ensure important information isn’t lost.  In the event that this is not possible, another way to at least prevent the issues associated with the loss of information is to have some means of teaching another employee how to handle the responsibilities the departing employee performed, such as having said departing employee train their successor.

What Kind of Documents are Needed to Deal with Employee Exits?

The documents needed to effectively handle and move on from employee exits primarily include records of what tasks the departing employee was responsible for, relevant documentation regarding any projects the employee was involved in at the time of departure, an end of contract agreement, and a non-disclosure agreement to ensure the organization’s information is kept confidential.  An organization will also require instructional or training documents to teach new employees how to take up the responsibilities of the retiring employee.  For more information on how to effectively handle employee exits and the issues associated with them, see the section below.

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Should You Consider Developing an Employee Off-boarding Checklist?

Yes! Some essential methods of information protection involve third-party verification services that require extensive employee information. During the exit process, the employee’s off-boarding is carefully documented and tracked by a technical documentation writer. Otherwise, valuable information can be lost.

To combat this risk, many companies develop an employee off-boarding checklist. By creating an employee off-boarding checklist, your company has a system that helps prevent potential security breaches. An employee off-boarding checklist often includes the following:

… and much more!

A technical documentation writer will implement their wide range of skills to create a comprehensible and thorough employee off-boarding checklist.

Conclusion

While it is to be expected that some employees will leave a business over time, technical documentation writers can ensure that a business is prepared for these departures and can continue to function.  Every business should make a point of employing at least a few technical writers to develop an exit process.

How EDC can Help

By implementing these strategies, organizations can better navigate the risks associated with employee exits and maintain the continuity and quality of their technical documentation efforts. By hiring a technical documentation writer, the production of employee departure materials will be done in an adequate, timely, and cost-effective manner. 

In order to ensure the preservation and security of your information, hire a technical documentation writer from Essential Data Corporation today! Whether you need a team of consultants to produce a complete line of documentation or a single technical writer for a brief project, Essential Data’s Engagement Manager will lead the project from start to finish. Essential Data Corporation guarantees the quality of our work and will work diligently to meet all of your documentation needs.  Contact us today to get started at (800) 221-0093 or sales@edc.us.

Written by Ariana Sweany