Recently, I counseled an employer regarding the termination of a high level HR employee. The termination wasn’t fun but the company’s termination process was followed. Unfortunately, that was the problem. The employer collected and turned off the exiting employee’s company badge. The employer took the same actions for the corporate credit card. The exiting employee’s laptop was collected and IT was informed to shut down the individual’s access to all systems immediately.

I asked, “What about the company owned mobile phone?” The response, “We allow high level employees to keep their cell phones.”

Have we learned nothing? Although it is hard to cut someone’s communication off immediately, a mobile phone is like a computer with more limited data capacity.  You have lost control of what is on that mobile phone. It might even be subject to a legal hold.

Any device that has the ability to store company information locally must be collected from an exiting employee. Further, before putting the phone back in circulation, the mobile device should be wiped by an internal or external professional or you could be handing sensitive information to someone who doesn’t need it. This process goes for machines like photocopiers too. Before sending that old “junk” off –keep in mind it might store sensitive information too.

Make sure you have a plan. HR can provide an exiting executive a temporary phone with no access to systems and no stored data. The mobile number can even be transferred to the phone ensuring that the executive’s exit is handled diplomatically and in compliance with data security laws.