Employee offboarding - keep it professional until their last day

When it comes to hiring and greeting new employees, every company gives its best to make them feel welcome and to show them from the first days that they made the right choice. So onboarding gets a lot of attention. Why? Because we all know first impressions are crucial and new hires should get all the possible attention.

However, we strongly believe companies should put the same amount of effort into the offboarding process. Unfortunately, the majority of companies do not have an effective offboarding implemented. You need to start seeing this as an opportunity, not as the end of something. It is the chance to show the current, former, and future employees that your company is interested in their progress and in improving day by day. Here is more information on why you need to design such a process, how can it be of help and a great offboarding checklist.


Employee offboarding - definition

Offboarding describes the process that generates the formal separation between an employee and a company. The reasons for such separation can be resignation, termination, or retirement. It comprises the whole set of decisions and processes that take place when an employee leaves.

Here are the three possible cases of offboarding:

  • Termination of the employee: the employee resigns from the company. It’s his request to leave.
  • Termination from the company’s side: the employee’s contract is terminated due to mistakes or differences.
  • Retirement: the employee reaches the retirement age.

Typically, through offboarding, you make sure there are no loose ends after the employee leaves the company, so you don’t, for example, call him 4 days after to ask if the X client was sent an email or not. The process is also a great way for your organization to improve its low points.

Onboarding vs offboarding

Even though these are opposite processes, they need to be executed likewise. Hiring or letting go of an employee comes with a number of steps to be completed. Both onboarding and offboarding need to be planned carefully and the correct paperwork needs to be done.

Surely, it depends on each company how complex they make these processes, but keep in mind that these are 2 big opportunities to offer your employees a better experience.

You can come across skepticism and risk in both processes. But through communication, neither the employer nor the employee will question each other’s motivation.

For example, during onboarding, you can experience a nervous newly hired trying to fit in and a manager trying to decide if he really fits in.

On the other hand, during offboarding, confusion comes regarding the reasons that led to the resignation of the former employee. The manager starts to question his ability to convince him to possibly stay longer. And when we are dealing with termination, the employee is the one questioning the true reasons the company had for letting him go.

Importance of employee onboarding

There are two possible scenarios for when an employee leaves your company: he or she either becomes a promoter or an adversary of your organization. The first category will only have good things to say about you and will likely bring you, new employees. The second category will not recommend your business and this can be harmful in the long run.

So use the offboarding process to turn all former employees into promoters. An efficient offboarding process is a key to clear any misunderstanding the leaving employee may still have.

Reasons to implement an effective offboarding process in your organization:

  • Proper goodbye for employees
  • Less time spent on repetitive tasks
  • Clearly appoint employees’ responsibilities
  • Get back all-important company tools
  • Special appreciation from the employee
  • Proper handover to the replacement employee
  • Constructive employer branding

Employee offboarding checklist

We have put together the ultimate checklist for offboarding your organization's needs! While we are confident our checklist is terrific, keep in mind that every company is different and you might amend it, to be perfectly suitable for your organization and your people.

Broadcast change promptly

In order to avoid gossip among the other employees, do not delay too much the announcement of the departing colleague. Postponing this moment can be the cause of a negative atmosphere and it can be avoided.

Therefore, as soon as you, as the manager, are sure the employee is leaving, you should inform the whole department/team and the HR department. A short and simple email will do the trick. Make sure you wish the employee good luck and provide a reason for the separation if you consider it appropriate. After that, the HR department will make sure the IT department and payroll are also kept up to date.

Draw up the paperwork

One of the most tedious tasks is preparing the legal paperwork for a departing employee. Don’t forget about:

  • Letter of resignation or termination
  • Non-disclosure and non-compete agreements, if necessary
  • Documents regarding benefits: an explanation of ended benefits, ongoing benefits, retirement fund, unemployment insurance, etc)

This is the step that ensures no legal action can be taken, by any part, if all documents are kept in order and signed. Also, this is a good time to establish how the last paycheck will be handed to the employee.

Set up the knowledge transfer

A departing employee takes his skills and knowledge with him. It’s normal, it’s a gained baggage of information. But you need to make sure that before leaving, he passes on the knowledge to their substitute. What should be done in this step of the offboarding process? Here it is:

  • The former employee should divide his daily routine into explicit instructions
  • Present the repetitive project he handled and give instructions on how to complete them
  • Grant all the needed accesses to the substitute employee
  • Train the successor in any systems or tools he/she needs
  • Inform the successor about the priority tasks

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The exit interview

A fundamental step in the offboarding process, the exit interview must be conducted in a comprehensive manner, not only formally. It’s an opportunity to gain insight into your organization’s strengths and weaknesses. It can also be a positive point for the existing employees: they get the feeling their possible complaints will be heard and addressed.

It’s preferable that the exit interview is not conducted by the direct manager/supervisor of the departing employee, but the HR manager or an HR specialist. Guarantee the former employee that his feedback will remain confidential, so this way he will be encouraged to be as honest as possible. Also, keep it short, because this is not the time to dissect matters, your goal is to get the most complex feedback possible.

The person conducting the exit interview should pass the info received to the leadership, so they can act on the weaknesses discovered and improve those points.

We have put together the greatest guide for conducting the exit interview. Check it out right away!

Recover company assets

Make sure you get back all devices or keys the employee has been given. Collect the following:

  • Laptop, mobile phone
  • Badge, access keys, uniform, security card.

Don’t forget to liquidate all their expense accounts or credit cards. Don’t expect them to remember all these. It’s your job to recover all the assets from them.

End it all graciously and leave the door open

Just as onboarding can have a great positive impact on a newly hired employee, an efficient offboarding can have the same impact on the departing employee. So you can think of some ways to make him feel appreciated, even though it’s his last day/days:

  • Create a card for him, wishing the best, signed by all the colleagues
  • Schedule a happy hour in his/her honor
  • Offer a nice personalized gift

All these can be considered as an open door if they want sometime in the future to come back to the company.

Wrap it up

As the last step in this whole offboarding process, loose ends need to be tied up, by the employee’s manager, IT department and HR department:

  • HR: ensure the employee’s desk is cleared and cleaned, for the successor. Inform any collaborators involved about the departure, the company insurance provider, and update all documents which included him as an employee.
  • IT: Eliminate the employee’s user account from any relevant systems, tools, and change the passwords on any shared accounts. Make sure to forward phone calls and emails to the employee’s manager or the employee designated to substitute him.
  • Manager: Remove the employee from forthcoming meetings and inform significant team-members of any last-minute details.

Exit interview - common questions

If you want really honest feedback about company culture, vision, morale, and business, as a whole, the key is to ask the leaving employees during the exit interview. They have nothing to gain or lose, therefore they are inclined to be truthful.

Here are 12 of the most commonly asked questions:

  • Why are you leaving?
  • What could we have done better?
  • Would you consider returning to this company?
  • Did you receive enough feedback from your manager?
  • Were you comfortable talking to your manager?
  • Did you feel appreciated, as a member of the team and of the organization, as a whole?
  • Were you pleased with your benefits, perks, and other incentives?
  • Do you think your job has changed since you were hired?
  • What was the best part of your job?
  • What was the worst part of your job?
  • Would you recommend this company to other candidates?
  • Is there anything that would have changed your mind about leaving?

Invest time and money in the offboarding process, because it can generate a cycle of learning from your company’s mistakes and will surely lead to improving them. Your company’s reputation is on the line, both in the eyes of future employees and in the eyes of current employees.

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