Employee turnover is inevitable in any organisation. Whether an employee leaves your company voluntarily or involuntarily, with an offboarding process in place, you can ensure you are protecting your organisation’s interests.
If an employee’s exit is not handled properly, you risk damage to your operations and your reputation.
Being prepared for when an employee hands in their notice can help your organisation to manage the transition phase, mitigate risks and support positive relations with exiting workers. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about offboarding from an HR perspective.
What is offboarding?
Offboarding is the final stage of the employee lifecycle, when the employee/employer relationship is brought to an end through, for example, dismissal or resignation.
Onboarding is often given more focus than offboarding, given the value of nurturing the working relationship from the start. However, leaving a good lasting impression is just as critical for employers and their employer brand, particularly when there is high competition in the market for talent.
A robust offboarding process should be to the benefit of both the company as well as the departing employee. On the one hand, an employee leaving should have minimal effect on the business and the other employees who are affected by the departure.
On the other hand, as the final stage in their time with the organisation, offboarding should leave the exiting employee with a positive experience.
Offboarding is usually a relatively simple process, but can easily become complicated if not managed properly. This is often depending on:
- The employee’s reason for leaving: if an employee is leaving on their own terms and the departure is amicable, there often won’t be many complications in the process. However, if the employee has been dismissed and may harbor some hostile feelings towards the company, this could make it challenging to get them to cooperate. It also means that certain aspects of the offboarding process will be more important. It will become more important to keep records and documentation to mitigate risk.
- The employee’s role within the business: the onboarding process for junior-level employees is often not as difficult as it is for more senior employees who hold more responsibilities. For example, they may be contractually entitled to more upon exiting, and it will be more difficult to transfer their role onto someone else.
Why does offboarding matter?
Of course, you will always want to leave on good terms. However, the offboarding experience can often leave employees feeling underappreciated, which inevitably leaves an employee with a negative view. You don’t want one bad offboarding experience to tarnish your company’s reputation.
There are many reasons why offboarding is important for your company. Existing employees feel more secure, and you limit any liability that could arise from a negative employee departure by ensuring you have followed a robust offboarding strategy. However, there are many other reasons why offboarding matters.
Some of these reasons are:
Prevents legal issues
When offboarding has not been carried out properly, you open yourself up to legal risks. If you have incorrectly followed any clauses within the employee’s contract, you could face a claim for a breach. It’s essential that you have all the correct documentation and paperwork following a resignation or a dismissal to reduce any risk of claims.
Mitigates financial losses
Final payments to employees can be complicated to calculate, and you could have to pay more than you expected if you haven’t followed processes correctly.
Mitigates security risks
Ensuring an employee is offboarded correctly is a crucial step in preventing security risks. Employers may face data breaches made by a former employee who still has access to email accounts, shared drives, or any other sensitive company information.
Leaves a positive final impression
You don’t want a good working relationship to be ruined because of a bad onboarding experience. A good offboarding process ensures the employee leaves feeling respected and appreciated for the work they provided you over the years. You also never know when you’ll come back into contact with a former employee, and you don’t want the bad relationship to cause you to lose out on an opportunity.
Ensures a smooth transition
Having an employee’s role and responsibilities fully covered by the time they leave. Making sure the employee has a replacement or has everything taken care of makes it much easier to deal with the change when the employee leaves.
You can gain helpful feedback from the exiting employee
An offboarding process that includes an exit interview is an excellent way to allow the employee to express if there is anything that could be improved upon within the company. This can be a really useful inflight that can help your business.
Offboarding & employer brand
Your employer brand is how current, potential or formal employees and the public, in general, perceive you as an employer.
It’s very common for prospective employees to research a company before accepting a position. Therefore, you must give off a good impression to the outside world.
Unfortunately, people are more willing to leave negative reviews than positive ones, so there’s more chance of the news of a negative experience being shared.
Maintaining a good reputation is crucial for maintaining and recruiting talented employees. However, you should note that you should focus on providing a good positive experience throughout an employee’s entire journey with you — starting from the interview process and going straight through to the offboarding process. It’s never enough to focus only on the onboarding process and see how it goes; you need to follow through and continue to put effort into giving employees a great experience.
Saying that, since the offboarding process is the final interaction an employee will have with your company, it weights even more importance.
There are more job openings in the current job market than people looking for jobs, and it isn’t easy to find and hold on to talented and motivated employees.
10 key stages of the offboarding process
An effective offboarding process should ensure the following:
- Disruption within the company is kept to a minimum
- Ensure a smooth transition
- Confidential and sensitive company information is protected
- Gain feedback from the exiting employee to strengthen the business
- Make the departing employee feel appreciated.
The following are the key steps to take to optimise the employee offboarding process.
1. Create an offboarding checklist
You need to take several key steps during the offboarding process, and there can be severe consequences if you forget to do anything. The best way to ensure you don’t miss anything is by using a checklist. You can use the points we cover in this list and double-check you’ve done everything you need to do.
2. Collect all official documentation
The first step is to ensure you have collected all the formal documentation you need. It would help if you made sure the employee has signed a formal resignation letter that clearly states when the employee’s last day is.
You should collect all documentation the employee has signed throughout their services with you, such as any of their onboarding documents, including their contract, information about benefits, non-disclosure agreements, or anything else. Having all this at the start of the process will ensure you don’t miss out on anything important.
3. Inform accounts & payroll
Once you have the official resignation later, let the accounting team know so that they can get everything in place regarding the employee’s final paycheck.
If required, the final paycheck should include any outstanding holidays, other reimbursements, or compensation.
4. Inform staff members and relevant clients
Once everything is official, you should let any relevant staff members know about their colleague’s departure. Whether you let the whole company know or just those who will be affected know will depend on the situation.
Rumours can spread easily and quickly in the workplace. You don’t want them to start spreading before you have officially let people know.
Also, if the employee works directly with clients, it’s always best to let them know, so they don’t try to contact them once they’ve left. You should let the clients know when the person is leaving and who they can contact instead.
5. Plan transition and handover
The next big thing to do is plan the transition and handover. It’s good to ask the employee exactly what tasks they undertake on a weekly and monthly basis to make sure that nothing is overlooked.
The sooner you plan for this, the better–if you pass tasks over while the employee still works there, people can ask them questions and clarify anything for smooth as possible transition.
6. Exit interview
It can often feel a little hectic when you’re making plans for an employee leaving, but make sure you make time to schedule an exit interview.
An exit interview can be really beneficial and insightful. You can ask the employee if there are any improvements they can think of to improve anything in your company. Encourage them to be as honest as possible. Since they’re leaving anyway, they don’t need to worry about upsetting anyone.
7. Collect company property
Make sure you have a complete list of any company property the employee has and make sure they return anything before they leave.
Aside from the obvious things like phones, tablets and laptops, also make sure they return any keys or identity cards.
If you don’t have it in place already, it’s a good idea to have a system in place to keep track of any property that leaves the premises and who has it. This way, it’s easy to keep track of, and you can check it all back in once returned.
Many data breaches occur because old employees still have access to property or accounts they’re not supposed to.
8. Revoke account access
Leading on from getting any property back from the employee, you must revoke any account access the employee has to stop them from logging on and seeing anything they shouldn’t see.
No matter how good the relationship is between you and the employee or how much trust you have, this is something you should be doing for every exiting employee.
The final stage upon the exiting of the employee is to wish them a good farewell. Gifts are very common for employees who leave. A thoughtful gift shows the employee that you appreciate the work they’ve put in during their employment with you.
You may also choose to plan a social event where everyone who wishes to can wish the individual well.
This will likely be the final interaction you have with the employee, so you want to leave a good final impression.
10. Follow up
This is often a step that is overlooked, but it can also significantly impact the individual’s impression of you as a business. A couple of months after the employee leaves, it’s good to send them a message on social media, like LinkedIn, and ask how they’re doing.
You may not see the point in this step, but you never know when you might need a favour from any of your past employees. Sending a follow up message and keeping the lines of communication open between you and the employee can be a good step to take.
What does offboarding mean?
Offboarding is the opposite process of onboarding. It refers to the many steps you should take when an employee leaves. It includes steps like updating payroll, getting company equipment back, exit interviews and other steps that might be necessary when an employee leaves.
What should be included in offboarding?
The important steps in an offboarding process include things like getting the resignation letter, informing accounting, updating payroll, communicating the departure to other employees and clients, getting company property back, revoking account access and conducting an exit interview.
How do you offboard someone?
The key steps of offboarding someone are getting the resignation letter, informing accounts and updating payroll, communicating the departure to other employees, getting company property back, revoking account and systems access and conducting an exit interview.
Why is offboarding so important?
The offboarding process should be given just as much as the onboarding. During the onboarding process, you're trying to create the best first impression possible. However, the offboarding process is the last memory the employee will have with the company. Since this could be the lasting impression the individual has, you want to make it a good experience.
The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.