Why is Employee Offboarding as Important as Onboarding?

It’s not easy to say goodbye to an employee, especially a devoted and motivated one. Regardless of the reason behind the departure, it’s absolutely crucial to ensure a positive and valuable farewell. 

However, easier said than done. Good offboarding takes more than just collecting the company’s assets and waving them off. It takes preparation and consideration, as well as a lot of effort to benefit both parties: the company and the departing employee. 

Unfortunately, the importance of good offboarding is highly ignored. As a study by SBI revealed, offboarding gets eight times less attention than onboarding. Similarly, Aberdeen’s research found that only 29% of organizations have a formal process for managing employee offboarding seamlessly. 

And that’s a huge mistake. The offboarding process should be as important as a positive onboarding experience. Let’s discuss why. 

What Exactly Is Offboarding 

As defined by BambooHR, Offboarding is the process that leads to the formal separation between an employee and a company through resignation, termination, or retirement. It consists of all the decisions and processes that occur when an employee leaves, including: 

  • Transferring that employee’s job responsibilities  
  • Deactivating access rights and passwords  
  • Collecting the company’s assets 
  • Conducting exit interviews to gather feedback. 

During the offboarding process, you ensure that there are no loose ends between your company and the departing employee. On top of that, this process allows you to receive feedback which can help you improve working conditions and make informed decisions. 

Why It’s So Important to Ensure Good Offboarding 

A strategic approach to employee offboarding brings significant benefits. Here are some of them. 

Maintain a Good Relationship with Departing Employees 

The relationship between you and your soon-to-be ex-employee shouldn’t end with their resignation letter. It would be best if you used this opportunity to gather their feedback and appreciate their contribution to the company's development. It’s also a good idea to take some time to discuss some of their talents and abilities that may help them excel at their new job. 

By treating your departing employees with respect, you create and nurture potential advocates for your organisation. A new study suggests that a solid employee offboarding process can turn employees into loyal alumni who become your customers, suppliers, boomerang employees or brand ambassadors. Furthermore, former employees may also leave positive reviews on job portals and social media channels. 

Encourage boomerang employees 

Once your employee resigns or gets laid off, it doesn’t have to be a permanent goodbye. A former employee may re-join your ranks as a boomerang employee, bringing in new skills and experiences gained in their new position. And that’s only the beginning of potential advantages. Being deeply familiar with your company’s culture, it’s easier for your former employee to get started at full capacity. 

On top of that, boomerang employees symbolise that your company has a healthy organisational climate. This sentiment and devotion may resonate with your other employees. 

Receive feedback 

Departing employees can provide you with insightful feedback about your organisation. They can tell you all about the ups and downs of their work and lay the grounds for future improvements. 

Feedback from the employees can provide a manager with an idea about what they do right and what they do wrong. The exiting employee can leave an honest opinion about various processes and situations in the company.

An open and honest discussion during an exit interview can help you gather important information and valuable insights into your company’s weak spots and strong points. It may also reveal workplace issues that you are unaware of. You can use the feedback to improve the workplace for the remaining and future employees. 

Best Practices for Employers in Conducting Successful Offboarding 

Follow these employee offboarding best practices to make the most of the offboarding process. 

Understand Why an Employee is Leaving   

Employees leave for different reasons- better opportunities, dissatisfaction, or the end of their contract. Understanding the reasons behind their departure can help you adjust the offboarding process accordingly. Leaving is a part of the employee lifecycle, but knowing the reason for the former employees' decision can be beneficial for employee retention. Try to learn - and possibly understand - their reasons during the exit interview.

Do Not Delay the Offboarding Process  

Don’t postpone the offboarding process until the last minute. Create an employee offboarding checklist to ensure that all the processes are in place. Take action to: 

  • Prepare the necessary paperwork  
  • Announce the departure to other employees 
  • Commence the handover of work as soon as possible to ensure a smooth transition. 

Recover Company Assets from the Departing Employee

It’s advisable to keep a list of all the company’s assets that have been given to your employee throughout their lifecycle in your organisation to make it easier to recover all of the company assets.

You must also not forget about revoking access to their digital accounts such as company email, shared drive, and other communication platforms not to risk any sensitive information or data leaving your company. 

Conduct an Exit Interview  

As mentioned before, conducting an exit interview is absolutely crucial. To make it as effective as possible, make sure to ask practical questions to get to know your employee’s opinions on the management style, processes, and overall employee morale. Make your employee comfortable and allow them to give you honest answers. 

Keep the knowledge

The knowledge transfer process is an extremely important part of the employee's departure. You do not want an employee to take all their knowledge with them without transferring it to another team member or a new hire. It's a smart idea to let them teach someone about their everyday tasks - it can be a new hire or another employee. It will be much easier to keep the proper workflow when there will be someone able to take over the exiting employee's tasks. It can be done in a form of training, or the exiting employee can create a handover document or a checklist for others. Knowledge transfer certainly should be a part of the employee offboarding process.

Decide how to notify the team that someone is leaving

There is no one specified way in which the rest of the team should be informed about the exiting employee's decision. You need to take into consideration the company culture, structure, and size. Should you do it in a meeting, or by e-mail? Consider the reasons for the employee's departure and respect their privacy - do not inform the team about any personal reasons behind the decision, if the leaving employee is not comfortable with it. Revealing sensitive information to the remaining employees would be unprofessional. Make sure that employee departures are communicated swiftly before any leaks or rumours start to spread.

Celebrate the Departing Employee’s Contribution to the Organization  

If appropriate, show your appreciation for the departing employee by celebrating their time in your organisation. Whether you decide to organise a farewell meeting or give them some gift as a token of appreciation, it’s a great way to leave a good impression.  

Employee Offboarding Is as Important as Onboarding 

Employee onboarding and offboarding are two processes at the opposite end of the employment lifecycle spectrum and both of them are equally important for the success of your organisation. 

It’s not enough to greet your employees with style, you must also know how to say goodbye to them and ensure the best employee offboarding experiences.