The last thing Jennifer Bender thought she’d need to manage the offboarding process at her company was another HR technology platform. Yet when Bender, senior vice president of HR shared services for Change Healthcare in Alpharetta, Ga., decided to partner with the provider of a third-party system that automates the document creation, severance calculation and risk management processes required for employee departures, she considered it one of the best technology investments she’d ever made.
Bender decided it was time to graduate from using spreadsheets to something more advanced for administering separations. She enlisted the services of Atlanta-based Onwards HR, a technology platform specializing in helping HR, employee relations and legal teams more efficiently handle employee separations while complying with employment law and corporate policy.
HR leaders are managing record numbers of employee departures, due to layoffs caused by the pandemic, resignations or terminations in the wake of vaccine mandates, or employees switching jobs.
“This might not be the kind of technology HR professionals think they need but once they have it, they’ll realize the considerable time savings it creates and the pressure it removes from HR and legal teams in ensuring accuracy of required documentation, as well as avoiding any wrongful termination lawsuits,” Bender said.
Saving Time on Document Creation, Review
Experts say one of the biggest benefits to HR of using such specialized technology for employee separations is saved time. Much of that savings comes from using configurable templates for document creation rather than relying on spreadsheets, Microsoft Word and mail merge to create and distribute required documents.
The Onwards HR platform, for example, has a rules-based document generator that can automatically create separation agreements and include custom provisions where needed, such as those for exiting salespeople who need an agreement on commission payments, or older workers who need an Older Workers Benefits Protection Act release.
Bender found use of the technology helpful when her company had to lay off staff after the loss of a big client. Using the Onwards HR platform reduced the overall time it took to process such reductions—including generating and reviewing necessary documentation—from 45 days to about 15 days, Bender said.
Specialized offboarding technologies also help HR avoid overpaying or underpaying employee severance. “Before adopting the platform I had one business leader come to me very apologetically and say he had accidentally paid about 20 part-time workers severance pay, which our policy didn’t allow for,” Bender said.
Sarah Rodehorst, co-founder and CEO of Onwards HR, said that severance calculations can sometimes be more complex than they appear. “Severance payments in the U.S. are more straightforward, but when you start going into other countries there are statutory requirements that can be more complicated, and additional information needed for those calculations can’t always be found within your HRIS [human resource information system],” Rodehorst said.
Managing Legal and Compliance Issues
Specialized risk management technology can make it easier for HR, legal and employee relations teams to collaborate during the employee separations process, reducing the chance of error or oversight regarding compliance issues.
“When we start having discussions about employee separations, it usually goes through several iterations of reviewing legal and …….