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When “That Person No Longer Works Here”

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Did you ever email or phone a person you’ve dealt with at an insurance company or major sales outlet only to learn the person no longer works there?

Sometimes — actually, too many times — the only indication that the person has left the company is the bounced email or the phone call rerouting that goes nowhere. The outside caller or email-sender is left with questions — What happened? Did Jon or Suzanne leave or die? Who do I contact now? — and uneasy feelings.

For sure, if the now-missing person has retired or left the company for “personal reasons,” that news sometimes makes it into the media, especially if the workplace is a highly visible company. A listing on a social media network might provide some clues, too. And, if death is the cause, the obituary page of the local paper might carry the news.

But those are exceptions, not the rule. It sure is frustrating, especially if the outside caller/emailer has reached out for business reasons. If the need is urgent, the time and effort the person must expend to get some help goes beyond being annoying. It becomes aggravating, and depending on the outcome, it might make the outsider wonder if serious problems are afoot at the firm.

Imagine the welcome surprise, then, when MassMutual issued an announcement this week about senior management team changes at its Retirement Services Division. The statement not only announced the hiring of several new executives; it also included news of the departure of two other executives, giving their names and where they’re heading next.

In addition, the announcement quoted a top level executive who thanked the departing executives for their leadership, vision and teamwork. She also expressed appreciation for their contributions, and said the company wishes them well in their new endeavors and looks forward to “lasting relationships in their new capacities.”

Nicely done, MassMutual. This is cordial, positive, and businesslike. It injects a sense of continuity without going overboard on detail.

That’s not always possible, of course. Some employees leave a company due to mass layoffs or because they were fired or entangled in “bad blood” disputes. Some just relocated to another branch. Some are coping with difficult personal issues and don’t want any attention drawn to themselves or their departure. Some may have severance packages that include binding non-disclosure provisions. Privacy policies, human resource policies, state laws and a myriad of other factors can influence this.

But even when those very understandable reasons are at work, firms should still be able to help outside callers/emailers learn what they need to know to resolve their business questions with a minimum of hassle when an employee leaves.

A couple of suggestions come to mind: 1) Provide a clear path for handling incoming emails and calls that arrive for a worker who has left; and 2) Let existing staff know exactly what to say when outsiders fish around for reasons.

Larger carriers seem to have a drill-down on this but not so the mid-sized and smaller firms and agencies. Fortunately, there are plenty of expert resources available on the Web and in person that can provide ideas and assistance. Addressing this is one more hassle to deal with when a worker leaves, but if dead-end calls or emails stir up a harmful round of complaints or rumors, that hassle will be the least of the firm’s problems.

 

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Linda Koco, MBA, is a contributing editor to InsuranceNewsNet, specializing in life insurance, annuities and income planning. Connect with Linda →

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