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Offboarding: Should You Have a Process In Place?
When it comes to reducing the impact of employee departures, have you consider building an offboarding programme? A strong, consistent programme and process can help you manage even the most unexpected departures seamless. Let us tell you more.
Employee offboarding is an important part of the employee experience. When it’s done well, it can help to ensure employees leave with a positive view of your organisation.
A strong offboarding process also helps to protect your company’s data and minimises disruption for the remaining employees. It also lets you gather valuable feedback from the employee who is leaving about their experience working for your organisation.
Employee offboarding involves many different tasks and activities, so it’s important to carefully plan your offboarding process. This helps you to stay organised and ensures that the process is as smooth as possible.
What Is Offboarding?
Employee offboarding is the process of disengaging an employee from their position within your organisation once they have decided to leave or had their contract terminated. The process encompasses the many different tasks involved in the separation between the organisation and the employee.
Offboarding is essentially the opposite of onboarding, which is the process of getting an employee up to speed when they first join an organisation. You can think of onboarding and offboarding as two bookends that sit at either end of an employee’s time with your organisation.
The Importance of Employee Offboarding
The point of the offboarding process is to make sure that an employee’s departure is as smooth as possible for the departing employee, the organisation and the team members who are left behind. A properly thought-out offboarding process ensures that the employee leaves on good terms, and that their teammates are prepared for their departure.
Here are some of the main benefits of an effective offboarding process:
Protects company information: A big part of the offboarding process is ensuring that the departing employee hands over any company equipment they have, and that their access to files and systems is disabled. This protects your company from any potential data leaks once they have left.
Minimises disruption: An employee leaving their job can be hard on the people left behind. But a strong offboarding process ensures that the handover is as smooth as possible, and that they have all the information they need to move forwards.
Provides feedback on the employee experience: A thorough offboarding process should include an exit interview with the employee, where you seek feedback on their experience working for your company. This can help you to improve things for your current and future employees.
Ensures expertise and knowledge are captured: A good offboarding process should involve as much information as possible being stored or passed over to those who are remaining with the organisation.
Makes employees more likely to return: Although it’s not the main purpose of the offboarding process, there is some evidence that ‘boomerang employees’ (those who return to a previous employer after leaving) are becoming more common. A strong offboarding experience can make this more likely.
Leaves the employee feeling positive about your organisation: The offboarding process can help to make sure employees leave on good terms — which can improve your employer brand.
7 Steps for an Effective Offboarding Process
Are you ready to start building a solid offboarding process for your employees? The steps below will help you to get started.
1. Create a Thorough Plan
To keep your offboarding process organised, create a checklist that includes all of the tasks you need to complete before the employee leaves. You could also ask the employee to write their own checklist to help them remember everything they need to do. This might include things like documenting processes so that their replacement can understand them, and handing in any company equipment or documents.
2. Inform Other Employees
As soon as you know that someone will be leaving your organisation, it’s a good idea to let their colleagues know. This stops rumours from spreading and allows the employee’s teammates to start planning for their departure.
You could do this by sending out an email with details about the employee’s last day or mentioning it in a team meeting. Alternatively, you could ask the employee if they would like to send a message out to their colleagues themselves — especially if they’ve been with your organisation for a long time.
3. Plan the Handover Process
One of the most important parts of the offboarding process is figuring out how the employee’s work will be completed once they leave. That means determining who will take over their role — whether that’s an existing employee or a new hire you plan to make. In some cases, you might decide not to replace the employee directly, and split their duties between several existing employees instead.
You should also work with the departing employee to create a list of their final tasks and deliverables. This normally includes handing over any files, documents and information that the rest of the team will need. The goal is to make sure that the employee doesn’t take all of their knowledge and expertise with them when they leave.
4. Get Your Paperwork in Order
Ensuring your paperwork is in order is one of the more practical aspects of the offboarding process. For example, you’ll need to keep documents like the employee’s letter of resignation (or termination) on file in case you need to refer to them later.
You’ll also need to work with your company’s accounting or finance team to prepare any necessary financial documents. They’ll need to confirm whether the employee owes (or is owed) any money for things like PTO that they have taken (or not taken).
5. Retrieve Assets and Revoke IT Access
To avoid losing money when your employees leave, you need to make sure you have a process in place for retrieving any company property that they have in their possession. This might include things like laptops, mobile phones or other equipment. You’ll also need to get back or deactivate things like keycards or parking passes.
As well as this, you should contact IT ahead of the employee’s departure to discuss when you’ll revoke their access to your internal systems and data. This is a crucial step because external parties having access to company information can result in data leaks.
6. Don’t Forget the Exit Interview
An exit interview is your chance to understand why an employee is leaving and whether there is anything that you could have done better as a company.
Keep in mind that not every employee will have a negative reason for leaving. For example, some may simply have outgrown their roles and be moving on to the next stage in their career. However, even in this case, they can still provide valuable feedback about their role, their colleagues and your organisation as a whole.
7. Keep It Human
Employee offboarding involves a lot of different tasks and HR processes. But you should also remember that it’s ultimately about a real human leaving your company — and make sure to wish them a proper goodbye. Depending on your company’s culture, there are a few different ways to do this. For example, you could:
Ask everyone to sign a farewell card for the employee
Give the employee a personalised leaving gift
Write the employee a thank you note for their work
Throw a leaving party or event to say goodbye
Frequently Asked Questions About Employee Offboarding
Here are the answers to a few FAQs about employee offboarding.
Is Offboarding Important for Companies?
Although we don’t always think of it this way, offboarding is an important part of the employee experience. When it’s done well, it can ensure that employees leave with a positive impression of your organisation, which can improve your employer brand. It can also improve morale among existing employees, who are often put under pressure when a colleague leaves.
What Steps Should You Follow In an Employee Offboarding Process?
The employee offboarding process includes many different steps — we’ve outlined the main ones above.
Automate Offboarding Tasks and Make Time for the Human Stuff
With Personio, you can automate the dry-but-necessary aspects of the offboarding process, giving you more time to focus on the human parts. You’ll be able to view all of the tasks to be completed in one central location, giving you oversight over the whole process. Even better: you can assign each task to the person responsible and add a deadline, and they’ll receive automated reminders until they mark it as completed.
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