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
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
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)
- 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
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.
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