What is employee offboarding and why is it important?

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Employee offboarding is the transition process a company goes through when an employee decides to leave. The process has several components including knowledge sharing, exit interviews, asset recovery, and finishing up formalities as per exit policies and procedures.

A constructive employee offboarding process will leave your employees feeling valued and appreciated throughout their separation process, leaving them with a positive lasting impression of the company.

Why is it important?

There’s a commonly held belief in human resources that employees leaving an organization is negative because a lot of resources have gone into hiring, onboarding and nurturing an employee. But the reality is that employees move on for a whole range of reasons, including those initiated by the company itself, such as being made redundant.

Some common reasons why employees choose to leave companies include a desire to pursue something different and new, better remuneration or job title, disconnection with the company’s values or workplace culture, relocation due to personal reasons and retirement.

No matter the reason why employees are leaving, they deserve a positive offboarding experience. A good offboarding process is indicative of how a company treats its employees overall. Does the company take leaving personally or are they professional about it in the end?

Former employees are a great authentic source of feedback. If a company is genuinely committed to continually improving its staff experiences and organizational processes, then it’s essential that outgoing employees are listened to. They will be ongoing brand ambassadors and even future employees or customers so avoid burning bridges and learn from their experiences with your company.

Outgoing employees also possess critical knowledge and its vital that the company retains their knowledge and expertise for future development and growth.

Employee Offboarding Best Practices

Listen

When an employee informs you that they are leaving, make it a priority to hear them out and try to understand why they are making the decision. How you treat your employees when they decide to leave speaks volumes about you as an employer and the wider company. Extend all the assistance you can to make sure they have a timely transition. This is a period where you can also try to influence a valuable person that you don’t want to see go into changing their mind to stay.

Prepare other employees for the move

To avoid gossip and staff jumping to assumptions, it’s best to communicate the change to all the concerned parties involved as early as possible. Encourage managers or team supervisors to let their team know when and why that particular employee is leaving, the transitional steps being implemented and who will be replacing them.

Show appreciation

Be prepared to have a candid discussion with them, highlight their strengths and significant contributions in the company, also covering any hidden abilities that have been noticed so they can take this feedback with them as they continue their professional journey elsewhere. Be sure to thank them for their contributions.

Facilitate knowledge transfer

Employees bring skills and abilities and gain so much institutional knowledge throughout performing their duties. Unless it’s documented, it will be lost once on their departure, leaving the next person who enters their role starting from scratch. The knowledge transfer process allows them to document vital points for future employees or others in the team. As a part of the knowledge transfer process, new hires or other teammates could closely work with them to learn.

Write an attractive recommendation

Leave a positive lasting impression with your outgoing employee by giving them an attractive reference letter or  LinkedIn recommendation. You could also introduce them to others in your network who might be able to offer them an opportunity, especially if they were terminated or laid off during a difficult period.

Encourage them to keep in touch

It could be as simple as getting their personal email and phone number or exchanging social media details. After an employee moves on it can be a nice gesture to send them a message or an email once in a while to show them your appreciation for their service.

Here’s a helpful checklist to assist with planning for an offboarding experience:

Employee offboarding checklist

During the offboarding

  • Schedule a meeting with your outgoing employee.
  • Raise a requisition for a replacement.
  • Decide on notice period and termination date
  • Inform the team of their departure
  • Initiate transfer of knowledge
  • Take back company assets
  • Complete all relevant paperwork and formalities
  • Remove employee from any recurring meetings
  • Alert payroll to process all payments owing, including benefits
  • Set up an exit interview

On the employee’s final day

  • Send out an email to the team or wider organization
  • Confirm contact information for further communication
  • Encourage them to join your alumni network
  • Organize a farewell party and good-bye & good luck card signed by team members

After the employee leaves

  • Update your database/org charts
  • Remove employee’s access to workplace IT systems and change passwords to sensitive systems if necessary
  • Redirect incoming communications to a fellow team member
  • Clear their work station

Improving your employee offboarding process can be achieved with technology and automation. HR software like Qualee can help you to stay on top of your exit process. Their custom journeys are cloud-powered and mobile-enabled, making them ideal for offboarding staff.

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