How to offboard employees gracefully

A thorough employee offboarding process can significantly minimize any discomfort and stress they might feel

How to offboard employees gracefully

No HR leader enjoys seeing an employee go – whether voluntarily or by termination – but it is not an excuse to be careless when it comes to supporting the employee in transitioning out of the company. On the other hand, it can be an excellent opportunity for employers to collect helpful information and establish a solid professional relationship with the employee.

There are many ways employers can maximize the offboarding process for themselves and their employees. However, to do this, one must understand the need for a civil and engaging offboarding approach.

What is employee offboarding?

Employee offboarding is the process of transitioning employees out of the company. This happens through resignation, retirement, or termination. The process involves many steps such as finding a replacement and distributing the employee’s job responsibilities to others temporarily, turning in company equipment, settling any ongoing projects and important documents, and conducting exit interviews.

Offboarding is the opposite of onboarding, where new employees are entering the workforce and cross-boarding, where existing employees are being transferred to a new role or department. Giving equal priority to all processes can help make the experience better for employees and smoother for the company.

Read more: 5 steps for an effective onboarding process

Importance of employee offboarding

Having a proper and graceful employee offboarding can benefit companies greatly. One of the main reasons for having proper offboarding is to improve the security of sensitive information and data. When an employee leaves, companies should ensure their access to company software and documents is removed to minimize the risk of misused, stolen, or accidentally leaking important information. In addition, collecting company-owned equipment like laptops and smartphones is also a good way to lessen any data misuse.

Having a good employee offboarding process also shows that the company cares for the wellbeing of the departing employee. Leaving a job and familiar workplace is stressful no matter the circumstances of how they left. Therefore, supporting the employee by means of convenient and stress-free offboard processes creates a good long-lasting impression on the employee even after they leave the company and can even strengthen the positive employer brand enough for them to promote the company to their connections.

How to offboard employees gracefully

A thorough employee offboarding process can significantly minimize any discomfort and stress an employee could feel as they prepare to leave the company. Here are ways for employers to improve their offboarding process:

1. Know and understand the nature of exit

The processes of offboarding employees depend on the nature of the employee’s departure – for example, resignation, termination, retirement, or layoff. Understanding this helps employees map out how to handle the employee and what certain requirements and steps are needed for the departure.

It is also essential to determine the reason behind their departure. There are many reasons why employees choose to leave their current employer. It could be due to a toxic workplace, dissatisfactory employee benefits, overwork, and weakened health, to name a few. According to David Reddin, managing partner at recruitment company Reddin Group, it is important to understand the root cause of the problem.

“There are so many issues at play that you need to find the real situation before you can implement a plan. You might be able to change the employee’s role or arrange a development plan. You will need regular communication and to check in regularly to see how they are progressing.” Reddin told HRD.

2. Ensure compliance

If the steps and conditions are not adequately planned, it can be easy for both employees and employers to miss a requirement or two during the offboarding process. Having a compliance checklist can guide employers through each step and keep track of every progress they get. It also helps employees see what else they need to accomplish before their last day with the company.

Getting organized helps employers schedule around their daily routine and streamline the process easier. Employers should take the time to plan out what they need from the employee before they leave and what they need to provide for the employee, such as their last pay and reference letter. Getting the cooperation of the employee is also vital in staying on time with the compliance checklist.

3. Retrieve insights

Offboarding is a great way to collect data on the experience of being an employee in the company. Departing employees can offer sincere feedback on the company’s culture, employees, workload, employment packages, and management. This information can shed light on the strengths of the company and the areas that need work.

Employers should conduct employee exit interviews to help collect feedback properly. During the interview, employers should discuss the individual’s progress. The interview should also investigate the relationship the employee had with their managers and co-workers and whether the current employees are creating a safe and productive environment for colleagues. If there is a consistency in the feedback employers are collecting from various departed employees, then the company should quickly act in resolving any of the concerns raised.

4. Treat departing employees warmly

Offboarding employees does not mean all ties and familiarity with the employee are cut off. Treating employees kindly and respectfully even during their transition out of the company is still a duty of the employer and the minimum requirement as human beings. Employers can treat the departing employee warmly throughout the offboarding process through listening to their concerns, helping with final requirements, including them in any discussions of changes and updates, and maintaining communication based on respect.

In addition, civilly treating departing employees can also help create long-lasting relationships between the company and employees. Maintaining a professional relationship even after the employee has left keeps a good company image in their minds that can encourage the former employee to introduce the company to their connections as a good brand and employer to support.

5. Prevent potential productivity stalls

An employee’s departure causes many responsibilities and projects to be put on hold and be temporarily distributed to other employees. Employers should stay transparent and inform the affected teams and staff of any departing employee to prepare them for any changes to their daily work routine. The employee, their manager, and employer could schedule a discussion and create a workflow of how they will distribute the departing employee’s work

The departing employee should tie up any loose ends with their work before their last day. This helps the adjustment for other employees and the incoming replacement more manageable, and the impact on productivity will not be as damaging.

Read more: 5 steps for an effective onboarding process

It is always sad to lose an employee, whether voluntarily or by executive decision. However, companies should take advantage of the situation and make the most out of the offboarding process to improve the operations and image of the business. In effect, making significant improvements to the company using the data obtained during offboarding can help increase the retention of employees in the long run – a great benefit for both employees and employers.

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