Work environment

Employee offboarding process, or how to properly say goodbye to a departing employee

Anita Wojtaś-Jakubowska
Employee offboarding process, or how to properly say goodbye to a departing employee

An employee who leaves the company today may return to it tomorrow. Organizations often forget about this scenario, not paying enough attention to the effective offboarding process. And that's a mistake. In the reality of a talent shortage in the labor market, a positive offboarding employee's experience of departing employees with an employer can be a trigger to return. That's why a well-structured offboarding process is so important. Today we will tell you how to properly approach this process and how to end cooperation, creating a positive offboarding experience.

Why is offboarding process so important?

Offboarding is the process of leaving a job. Limiting it to one goodbye email and returning the company owned equipment is like limiting the onboarding process to the first day of employment. An employee's separation from the company is a multi-stage process, just as important as onboarding. Why? Because it can bring as many benefits as possible threats.

Open door policy instead of burning bridges

According to LinkedIn, the percentage of employees returning to the organization (the so-called boomerang employees) amounted to 4.5% of all employment in 2021. In 2019, there were fewer of them, 3.9%. In turn, according to a study by The Muse , almost 75% of employees who quit their job to take a new one regret their decision. At the same time, half of them would like to return to their previous role.

It is clear that an open door policy can facilitate employees return to the organization. This is confirmed by the Wiley Edge study , which showed explicitly that by a lack of employee offboarding process, as many as 71% of companies have a talent shortage problem.

A former employee is a company ambassador

A person who leaves the company in a favorable atmosphere is more likely to share a positive opinion about his former employer. In this way, the company gains a reliable ambassador for employer brand. Because who supports the employer's activities more effectively- branding campaigns and slogans or opinions of people who know the company from the inside?

Positive impact on employees remaining in the company

Successful offboarding process enables smooth leaving employee's knowledge transfer. Thanks to this, even after employee's departure existing employees are able to operate efficiently. Employees who remain in the company can prepare well in advance to take over the responsibilities of an exiting employee. It will also be easier for them to implement future employees who will replace exiting employees.

Data safety

An IBM study found that one sensitive company data breach caused by someone associated with an organization could cost a company $750,000. dollars.

Meanwhile , 83% of exiting employees admit that the previous company does not revoke access to accounts and tools for some time after leaving.

Departing employees can sometimes act on emotions. Leaving employee access to company property in their hands can create some data security risks or security breaches. Offboarding also secures this issue.

Offboarding checklist

1. Talk about employee leaving

Typically, such meetings are accompanied by many emotions that the manager and exiting employees have to face. It's not always easy, but it's definitely worth ensuring an atmosphere of mutual respect. During the conversation, it is good to at least initially establish the terms of departure.

2. Informing colleagues about the departing employee decision

Inform every team member about changes that will take place soon. Be sure to communicate when they will occur and how (if at all) they will affect current employees work or responsibilities. Understatements and gossip can spoil the atmosphere in the team. Clear communication makes existing employees feel important, not overlooked. Changing the structure of a team or department should not affect them personally.

3. Transfer of responsibilities

Establish a specific plan with the outgoing employee within a time frame. This will help you organize the multitude of topics to be covered.

What should such a schedule include?

  • List of projects/tasks to be transferred.
  • Prioritizing responsibilities to take over.
  • Joint arrangements on who and when will take over the employee's duties (whether it will be one person or several).
  • Schedule meetings with current employees who will be taking over tasks. It is a good idea to do this with a time margin, not just before the departing employee leaves. You may need additional time to train those taking over.
  • Communicating the situation to clients and providing them with contact information to the person who takes care of them.

4. Exit interview process

This is a meeting whose aim is to learn the employee's opinion about the organization, as well as the problems he/she faced and the reasons which made the departing employees leave. This is a key moment in all offboarding processes , for several reasons:

  • An exit interview is an excellent opportunity to gain valuable feedback from a person who already looks at the organization from a different perspective. However, to make the departing employee want to share his/her opinion, create a friendly space for conversation. It is a good idea for the meeting to be led by a neutral person (e.g. someone from HR department), not the direct manager. Sometimes it is the boss who is the reason for the departure of his subordinate...
  • Secondly, whether the conversation takes place in an atmosphere of respect will influence the opinion of the leaving employee about his former employer. If the meeting involves denying his/her reasons and downplaying his observations, it will be difficult to leave on good terms.
  • Exit interviews can bring a lot of good to the organization.

5. Administrative clean-up

Usually these are formal matters. Plan with the employee who and when will take care of such issues as:

  • return of business company equipment,
  • giving away a company car,
  • returning the card/key to the office,
  • disabling employee's access to tools and messengers,
  • exclusion of the benefits package.

6. “Let's stay in touch”, a program for alumni

The end of cooperation does not necessarily mean the end of the relationship. Former employees are a community worth keeping in touch with. Perhaps in the future some of them will want to come back or establish cooperation on new terms. Alumni who are satisfied with cooperation with their former employer are also natural ambassadors of the organization and company assets are more likely to recommend it as an attractive place to work.

More than goodbye - why is it worth structuring and automating offboarding process?

Order instead of chaos

Just like the beginning, the end of work can also be stressful. Departing employees may feel overwhelmed with too many things to do. Some of them may also be demotivated in the last weeks before leaving. The panacea for this situation is well-thought-out employee offboarding process.

Offboarding is the process which is definitely more than just saying goodbye to offboarding employees. It is a well-thought-out path that has a specific structure and purpose. With a clear action plan, the departing employees knows what steps must be taken. This brings order and neutralizes negative emotions that may arise. The employer, in turn, has greater certainty that key projects and responsibilities will be smoothly transferred to the right hands. Standardization of the offboarding process requires taking care of the needs of both sides. This makes it easier to end the cooperation without ending the relationship.

Offboarding, or how to properly say goodbye to an employee [GIF] | Gamfi Blog

Efficiency on a larger scale

Successful offboarding provides a ready-made scheme that can be applied to subsequent departing employees. Automation is a great help in scaling the entire process.

By using technology, you can easily implement repeatable steps. One effective tool is enough to improve and automate employee offboarding on a large scale. Such a process can be successfully based on an onboarding application.

What elements of offboarding can be automated?

  • Offboarding checklist - using an appropriate application, you can make checklists available to the offboarding employees and manager. Each of them may not only check their next steps on an ongoing basis, but also monitor progress.
  • Feedback surveys - depending on the needs and process, you can automate surveys sent after each stage of offboarding process. It is definitely worth trying to collect feedback on the entire process of leaving the organization.
  • Schedule of transfer of responsibilities - the multitude of tasks to be transferred requires a well-thought-out plan. A clear schedule of activities will bring order and allow you to focus on action. The appropriate tool will send notifications about upcoming tasks in the schedule.
  • Manager's tasks - the manager must also keep his/her finger on the pulse during offboarding process. The application will help him/her track the employee's progress in carrying out assigned tasks (e.g. when delegating responsibilities). It can also send automatic reminders to contact IT regarding disabling access.
  • Communication after separation - periodic messages sent to alumni, and maybe even access to an online platform with some training? All this can also be based on technology and thus maintain valuable contact with the community of former employees.

Automate, but… humanly

Remember that automation is not everything. Successful offboarding process should also have personalized elements. Technology can provide a solid foundation for the entire process, but the icing on the cake will always be empathetic communication. Determining the terms of employee's departure, exit interview, farewell meeting - these are the moments when an individual approach is the most valuable. Remember to appreciate the work of the offboarding employees and thank him or her for shared professional challenges.

And if you want to structure your employee offboarding process and base it on a proven tool, we recommend ourselves with the Gamfi Onboarding app! Our tool helps you not only welcome, but also say goodbye to your departing employees.

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