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Employee Offboarding Best Practices: Letting Go With Grace

Cassandra Rose, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Two people’s hands are pictured, sitting on either side of a table, with one person handing the other forms and a pen.


It’s nev­er easy to let an employ­ee go. It’s a del­i­cate and sen­si­tive process that can be uncom­fort­able for employ­ees and employ­ers alike. How­ev­er, there are many ways employ­ers can make the off­board­ing process a lit­tle less painful for both sides.

If done cor­rect­ly, the employ­ee off­board­ing process can be a crit­i­cal tool for uncov­er­ing man­age­r­i­al insights and hid­den inter­nal issues.

Here’s every­thing to know about cre­at­ing an off­board­ing strat­e­gy that works.

The Importance of an Offboarding Strategy

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Many com­pa­nies pri­or­i­tize the onboard­ing process but neglect the off­board­ing process alto­geth­er. How­ev­er, hav­ing a for­mal employ­ee off­board­ing process in place can be help­ful for a vari­ety of reasons.

For instance, con­duct­ing con­sis­tent exit inter­views can reveal insights and pat­terns that would oth­er­wise go unno­ticed. In addi­tion, it cre­ates a holis­tic feed­back loop that allows super­vi­sors to see their orga­ni­za­tions from the inside out.

If com­pa­nies con­duct exit inter­views and tru­ly aim to under­stand what hap­pened, they can take that insight to cre­ate health­i­er, hap­pi­er employ­ees and bet­ter over­all com­pa­ny culture.

It’s also a way to help smooth over any lin­ger­ing neg­a­tiv­i­ty from the employ­ee about the com­pa­ny. Whether the employ­ee resigned or was let go, com­mu­ni­cat­ing about what went wrong can be help­ful for every­one involved. With this being said, the main goal would be to imple­ment such a pos­i­tive­ly impact­ful off­board­ing process that for­mer employ­ees remain sup­port­ive of the com­pa­ny and even refer oth­ers to apply.

8 Offboarding Best Practices

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1. Create a Streamlined Offboarding Process

The best thing a com­pa­ny can do is pre­pare for res­ig­na­tions and ter­mi­na­tions with a com­plete, step-by-step strat­e­gy. Hav­ing a check­list ensures that there are no sur­pris­es and noth­ing is left undone when an employ­ee leaves.

2. Convey the Resignation Swiftly and Appropriately

Super­vi­sors need to com­mu­ni­cate res­ig­na­tions to var­i­ous need-to-know peo­ple with­in the orga­ni­za­tion. As soon as a super­vi­sor gets word of an employ­ee res­ig­na­tion (or ter­mi­na­tion), they should inform the fol­low­ing sup­port teams:

  • HR Team to begin the off­board­ing process.
  • Finan­cial Depart­ment to pre­pare the finan­cial doc­u­ments and process the employee’s last paycheck.
  • IT Depart­ment to begin col­lect­ing assets and ter­mi­nat­ing access to plat­forms and tools.
  • Lead­er­ship Team so that every­one is on the same page.
  • Recruit­ment Team to begin search­ing for a replacement.

As soon as pos­si­ble, the super­vi­sor should also address the direct team that the pre­vi­ous employ­ee worked with in order to pre­vent any hic­cups for present and future projects and to mit­i­gate any unnec­es­sary gos­sip or rumors.

3. Thank the Employee and Have a Conversation

The employee’s super­vi­sor needs to have a con­ver­sa­tion with the employ­ee. They should try to focus on the pos­i­tives of the rela­tion­ship and thank the employ­ee for their contributions.

Dur­ing this con­ver­sa­tion, the super­vi­sor should address all the details regard­ing the time­line and expec­ta­tions sur­round­ing their last days at the com­pa­ny. This should include infor­ma­tion about:

  • The ben­e­fit cov­er­age end date (and con­tin­u­a­tion options)
  • 401k
  • Their final paycheck
  • The exit inter­view process
  • Paper­work requirements
  • Return­ing com­pa­ny property
  • The han­dover process
  • Any oth­er rel­e­vant infor­ma­tion you feel is important

The employ­ee should leave this meet­ing know­ing exact­ly what’s expect­ed of them in their final days. They should also leave feel­ing appre­ci­at­ed for their con­tri­bu­tion to the company.

4. Organize the Handover and Transition Process

Often, each employ­ee has built up knowl­edge about spe­cial and unique details about their spe­cif­ic role in com­pa­ny process­es. That’s why it’s cru­cial to have a tran­si­tion process in place. The employee’s replace­ment might not be hired yet, but they will like­ly need to tran­si­tion clients, infor­ma­tion, project com­po­nents and oth­er details to an exist­ing team mem­ber or supervisor.

5. Collect and Revoke

Once the employ­ee has fin­ished their notice peri­od and reached the final days of their employ­ment, it’s time to final­ize the employee’s exit. At this point, super­vi­sors will want to col­lect any prop­er­ty, like keys, ID cards, lap­tops, phones, soft­ware and cred­it cards.

It’s also impor­tant to revoke the employee’s access to com­pa­ny assets like email, tools, social media accounts and CRMs.

6. Have a Formal Farewell

A for­mal farewell might not always be appro­pri­ate. How­ev­er, if the res­ig­na­tion or ter­mi­na­tion is ami­ca­ble, com­pa­nies should con­sid­er host­ing a good­bye par­ty, a farewell lunch or even just encour­ag­ing every­one to meet for drinks after work. Often, in ami­ca­ble splits, it can be chal­leng­ing to say good­bye, so host­ing or pro­mot­ing a prop­er farewell can help make the tran­si­tion easier.

If that type of farewell isn’t pos­si­ble, com­pa­nies should con­sid­er a small part­ing gift or thank-you card to serve as the for­mal goodbye.

7. Conduct an Exit Interview and Survey

Before the per­son leaves on their final day, it’s cru­cial to con­duct a thor­ough exit inter­view. This inter­view is where com­pa­nies can glean the most insight into the inner work­ings of their business.

HR should take time to con­duct a thor­ough set of pre­de­ter­mined ques­tions and allow for a bit of back and forth to try and uncov­er any hid­den trou­ble spots. Even in a ter­mi­na­tion set­ting, it’s impor­tant for com­pa­nies to ask things like, ​“What do you think we could have done to make your time here more successful?”

In addi­tion to an exit inter­view, com­pa­nies should con­sid­er an exit sur­vey, too. Exit sur­veys offer less pres­sure and might make the employ­ee feel like they can be more hon­est than they could be in per­son. The more infor­ma­tion a com­pa­ny can gath­er dur­ing employ­ee off­board­ing, the better.

8. Set the Stage for an Amicable Split

If it makes sense, com­pa­nies should con­sid­er leav­ing the door open for future com­mu­ni­ca­tion. The employ­ee might be a great rehire down the road or might refer new can­di­dates or cus­tomers if the com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nel is left open.

Many com­pa­nies facil­i­tate this type of ongo­ing rela­tion­ship by cre­at­ing alum­ni groups for past employ­ees on social media chan­nels. If applic­a­ble, com­pa­nies can also offer rec­om­men­da­tion let­ters dur­ing the off­board­ing process.

Leading a Smooth Offboarding Process

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Employ­ee turnover is nev­er easy. No one starts a job or hires a new employ­ee think­ing about when they’re going to leave. How­ev­er, turnover is inevitable. The best thing com­pa­nies can do is pre­pare for a com­fort­able and civ­il off­board­ing process to make it a lit­tle eas­i­er and more pos­i­tive for everyone.

Com­pa­nies who want to reduce turnover and take care of their employ­ees should con­sid­er a lifestyle ben­e­fits plat­form like Fringe.

Fringe allows employ­ees to cus­tomize their ben­e­fits to fit their unique needs, so every­one wins. Talk to our team to sched­ule a free demo today!

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