Employee Offboarding: How to Communicate with Departing Employees

Ben Renner | | Change Management

employee offboarding processes can help you fill the new labor gapEmployee offboarding rarely gets the attention employee onboarding does, and that’s a huge mistake. A documented, formal offboarding process, even for remote employees, prevents legal and security issues. It can provide feedback for improving processes and leaves the door open for some employees to return in the future.

Employee onboarding makes a huge difference in worker productivity and retention. The cost of high turnover rates, to say nothing of lost productivity, make onboarding a crucial function of human resources. It’s easy to see the benefits of onboarding in dollars and cents but supporting and appreciating departing employees can be just as important. How?

Employee Offboarding Can Lead to Onboarding Again

Many organizations write off departing employees as soon as they exit the building. That's understandable. When key employees depart, the top priority is replacing them before things slip through the cracks. There are many cases where it’s obvious that employee is gone for good and moving on is necessary. But there are plenty of circumstances where maintaining a positive experience for the employee leaving reaps benefits down the road.

effective employee offboarding can help bring people back in the doorFor instance, there are advantages to rehiring former employees after a time apart. Rehired employees already know the company culture and work processes, saving employers the expense of training from the beginning. Returning employees also come back with new experiences and contacts that might prove useful. Even if they don’t come back themselves, former employees can be a resource for referrals, feedback and more. In short, effective offboarding can lead to cheaper, faster employee onboarding in the future. Remember that bridges can be burned from either side. Make sure you don’t light any unnecessary fires.

A Smoother Transition

Properly offboarded employees can provide your HR department with better resources for their replacement. If they give enough notice, they can be invaluable when searching for a replacement. After all, who knows their job better than they do? Overlaps between the outgoing and the incoming employee aren’t always possible. But when they do happen, the outgoing employee might be more willing to assist with training their replacement if they’re being courteously offboarded.

Even if they don’t cross paths with the new hire replacing them, departing employees can prepare the way for them. A positive exit experience can affect how they organize ongoing work, whether they write up some quick tips and shortcuts, and if they help prep others with ways to help the newbie. This also shows other employees that they’re valued as people and aren’t seen as just cogs in a machine.

Offboarding Basics

When building an offboarding process, it’s important to stick to a checklist to ensure you’re parting ways with everyone’s best interests in mind.

Don’t hesitate to communicate the change to everyone.

As soon as you know for certain that an employee is leaving, communicate this change to the workforce. When co-workers suspect someone’s leaving or that any kind of change is afoot, the rumors start. Rumors often lead to misinformation and culture problems. Get in front of the rumor mill and make an announcement.

Get the paperwork ready.

Proper documentation of each offboarding process should include a letter of resignation or termination, non-disclosure and non-compete agreements if applicable, as well as benefits documents, such as any severance pay, retirement plan transfers, etc.

Learn everything they’ve learned.

Sometimes, when employees leave, they take crucial insights with them. Offboarding is the time to pick their brain and shine a light on any corners of the business you might’ve been blind to. In many circumstances, you can get this during the exit interview or in a survey. If they’re the sole source of information on anything, make sure that’s no longer true before they walk out the door for good.

Conduct an exit interview.

employee offboarding is more than just an exit interviewWhile many employees see the exit interview as a pointless formality, it can be extremely valuable to human resources and company leadership. It’s a great opportunity to learn about your organization and how day-to-day work is actually performed. You might discover processes need revising in the wake of on-the-job innovations.

Here are a few questions to ask during the interview to target potential weaknesses in your organization (and leave the door open for possible returns).

Did the job meet or exceed your expectations coming in? How?

Did you feel you had the resources and support to fulfill your duties? Why or why not?

Would you recommend working for this company? Why or why not?

It’s important to ask why employees feel the way they do and get them to provide details on ways to improve.

Offboarding and Technology

Beyond any other goals you may have, exiting employees need to know how to handle practical things like their retirement savings accounts and other benefits. Technology exists to help offboard remote workers and build out a standard offboarding procedure. Investing in video communications capabilities like those we offer at Flimp can streamline your offboarding process even more.

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