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Employee Offboarding: Why it Matters as Much as Onboarding

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The employee offboarding process is just as essential as employee onboarding. It’s an opportunity to collect feedback crucial to organizational growth. Learn more!

March, 2022

Employee Offboarding: Why it Matters as Much as Onboarding

Why Employee Offboarding is Just as Important as Employee Onboarding

Employee onboarding and offboarding are two processes at the opposite end of the employment lifecycle spectrum. Many companies invest a great deal of time and effort in their onboarding process. They want to ensure that new employees receive all the necessary tools and support to assimilate into the team. However, not many devote similar energy when someone is parting ways with the company.

In fact, a study by SBI revealed that offboarding gets eight times less attention than onboarding. Similarly, Aberdeen’s research found that only 29% of organizations have a formal process for managing employee offboarding seamlessly.

More and more companies realize that loyalty doesn’t necessarily have to end when employees decide to resign. Employees today have more freedom and flexibility to seek new opportunities without burning their employment bridges.

This article explores the importance of having standard offboarding procedures and recommends tips and best practices to turn exiting employees into company advocates.

Why Good Offboarding is Crucial for Organizations

Employee departures are never easy. But, as the last step in an employee’s lifecycle, offboarding is crucial for an employer to leave a positive and lasting impression. A well-planned offboarding program can help you avoid common pitfalls and make the overall exit process smooth for both parties.

Being strategic about how you transition through an employee departure comes with significant advantages. A new study suggests that a solid offboarding process can turn employees into loyal alumni who become:

  • Customers
  • Suppliers
  • Boomerang employees
  • Mentors to current workers
  • Employer brand ambassadors for the organization

Let’s look at some of the reasons why offboarding is critically essential.

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Maintain a Good Relationship with Departing Employees

Your relationship with your departing employees shouldn’t end as soon as a resignation letter lands on your table. In contrast, you should use that opportunity to listen to their feedback and have appreciative conversations with them. Talk to exiting employees about their contributions to the team and the company. Take the time to point out their specific talent and abilities that will help them shine in their new position.

When you treat your departing employees with respect, you indirectly nurture potential advocates for your organization. They will talk positively about your company to friends and family. Furthermore, former employees may even go so far as to leave positive reviews on job portals and social media channels.

The remaining employees will also be encouraged to see the company’s level of care given to the departing employee. Also, maintaining these good relationships cultivates a positive and meaningful offboarding experience. This approach will help keep their morale high and minimize the spread of rumors and gossip caused by under-communication.

Communicate Departure Terms Clearly

A formalized offboarding workflow will also ensure clear communication on the employee’s departure terms and help employers keep an organized paperwork trail. This process is critical when an employee is leaving due to termination.

Letting go of an employee from your organization must be done carefully and dignifiedly. It’s vital to document the process thoroughly for compliance purposes. Make sure to provide a letter that explains the reasoning for the termination to the employee and keep a copy in their personnel file. When in doubt about handling an employee termination, consult with an attorney.

Let the employee know they have the right to apply for unemployment benefits and that eligibility is determined by state. Provide them with COBRA information and verify their mailing address for W-2s and any other documents you may need to send them.

Pave the Way for Good Employees to Return

Employee resignation doesn’t necessarily mean a permanent goodbye. A former employee may rejoin your company as a boomerang employee, bringing in additional skills and knowledge to add value to the position. Rehires will also have deep familiarity with your company’s culture and processes. This familiarity makes it much easier for them to hit the ground running as compared to an entirely new hire.

Boomerang employees send out a strong signal about the company’s healthy organizational climate. This sentiment resonates with potential hires and existing employees who may be contemplating leaving the company.

Therefore, having an excellent offboarding process helps keep your doors open for boomerang employees, ultimately benefiting your organization in many ways.

Gain Insight from Departing Employees

Departing employees can be an information goldmine for your organization. Whether they are leaving to pursue better opportunities or because of performance issues, scheduling an exit interview is crucial.

During the exit interview, an open and honest discussion can help you gather important information and valuable insights on the organization’s weak spots. The answers may even reveal workplace issues of which you are unaware. You can use the information they provide to improve the workplace for the remaining employees.

Best Practices for Employers in Conducting Successful Offboarding

Offboarding a departing employee is not as easy as asking exit interview questions and wishing them well. Human resources must complete many procedures, processes, and paperwork for a smooth transition. Without a proper employee offboarding checklist in place, details can easily slip through the cracks.

Additionally, this can open your organization to potential security risks, legal threats, and damaged relationships with the departing employee. Software that helps track employee onboarding and offboarding can create an effective workflow that eliminates redundancies and errors.

Employee offboarding can become an opportunity to gather feedback to improve your work environment, reduce turnover, and appreciate the contribution of your exiting employee. Taking these steps can help you build better standards for employee onboarding and offboarding procedures.

Let’s look at some employee offboarding tips and best practices that can help you build a successful offboarding plan:

Understand Why an Employee is Leaving

Understand Why an Employee is Leaving

Employees leave an organization for different reasons—new opportunities, termination, or end of a contract. Understanding the nature of the exit can determine the steps needed for an effective offboarding.

It is even more critical to have a systematic offboarding procedure for terminations to avoid any dissatisfaction or, in worst-case, legal ramifications.

Do Not Delay the Offboarding Process

Do Not Delay the Offboarding Process

Don’t wait until the last minute to communicate about an employee’s exit to other team members. Create an offboarding checklist to ensure you do not forget anything essential. Take quick action to:

  • Prepare the necessary paperwork
  • Announce the departure to everyone involved in the process
  • Commence handover of work as soon as possible to ensure a smooth transition

When an employee leaves, co-workers are the most affected. They are the ones who must take on additional responsibilities until a replacement is promoted or hired. As part of the offboarding program, a replacement plan streamlines the transition of tasks and job roles to other team members or new hires. This approach ensures that business processes continue running smoothly during this transitional period.

This approach will significantly reduce the person’s stress taking over the tasks. It will also improve the overall employee experience for your workforce.

Recover Company Assets

Recover Company Assets

Keep a list of all the company’s assets you’ve given to your employee throughout their tenure to ensure all company assets are recovered. It can be access cards, laptops, mobile phones, or even company cars and corporate credit cards. Many payroll and HR platforms offer asset management features that automate this process.

More importantly, revoke access to their digital accounts such as company email, shared drive, and other communication platforms. You can’t risk any sensitive information or data leaving your company.

Conduct an Exit Interview

Conduct an Exit Interview

Your exit interview should contain practical questions to gauge the departing employees’ perception of the management style, processes, and overall employee morale. Make the employee comfortable enough to give you honest answers and be prepared to receive constructive feedback.

It is also essential for you to take the feedback seriously and share it with leadership. Subsequently, follow-up on actionable complaints and take necessary actions to improve any situations highlighted by the employee.

Celebrate the Departing Employee’s Contribution to the Organization

Celebrate the Departing Employee’s Contribution to the Organization

If appropriate, show gratitude for the departing employee’s time and effort by throwing a farewell celebration. This tribute can be in the form of a lunch or a token of appreciation. A farewell card signed by all the team members can also be a meaningful parting gift.

How you treat a departing employee speaks volumes about your genuine respect for your employees’ contribution, which can boost your current employees’ morale.

What to Do After an Employee Leaves?

Once an employee leaves, make sure to tie up all the loose ends. Ensure you have removed the employee’s access to email, passwords, and directory information. Work with the IT department to redirect emails and calls to the new point of contact. Also, notify relevant stakeholders and clients of the personnel change.

Remember that an employee’s exit alters the dynamic of the team. So, your offboarding process must include monitoring the team morale throughout the transition period and after the employee leaves for good.

Be available to address potential issues that may arise due to the departure. Work together with the team to minimize the likelihood of more resignations due to revised work allocation and change in the overall work dynamic.

Lastly, research options that allow you to automate the offboarding process. Employee offboarding software or payroll and HR technology can help streamline many tasks in your employee offboarding checklist.

Let APS Be Your Workforce Management Partner

Streamline the management of your inbound and departing employees with APS’ all-in-one Payroll and HR platform. Our solution helps with employee offboarding automation of your core HR workflows for a streamlined workforce lifecycle.

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