The offboarding process is a topic that often gets overlooked. Yet, it plays a crucial role in shaping an employee’s final impression of their workplace as well as influencing organizational culture. In fact, according to a Gallup Study, employees with a positive exit experience are 2.9x more likely to recommend their organizations to others.
A positive offboarding experience requires strategic and thoughtful actions that center employee experience and aim to gather insight that can improve your company culture. Here, we explore the steps and tools required to make employee offboarding a positive experience that leaves both your organization and employees satisfied.
What is Employee Offboarding?
Employee offboarding is more than just saying goodbye to employees. It’s a process that involves thoughtfully managing their departure and preparing for the arrival of new hires. The process includes exit interviews, knowledge transfer, returning company property, finalizing paperwork, and removing access to company systems.
With this, organizations show their commitment to maintaining excellence, even when experienced employees leave.
Reasons for Employee Offboarding
The offboarding process is a common practice for HR teams and one that most people associate with resignation. However, there can be various reasons for an employee to depart from their role at a company.
Employees may voluntarily leave an organization for various reasons, such as finding a better-suited opportunity, dissatisfaction with their current work environment, feeling unfit for their role, or a change in life circumstances.
In some cases, employees may undergo involuntary termination due to misconduct, violation of company policies, poor performance, or restructuring within an organization.
Employees reaching the end of their careers may choose to retire voluntarily. Retirement is a planned reason for offboarding, typically occurring at a certain age or fulfillment of specific criteria for retirement benefits.
In unfortunate circumstances, an employee’s departure may be due to their passing away. In such cases, organizations carry out the offboarding process to handle administrative matters, support the employee’s family, and provide assistance with benefits or compensation.
Critical Components of the Offboarding Process
The critical components of an offboarding process may vary depending on the circumstances, like whether the departure is voluntary or involuntary. Let’s look at the key elements to consider in different offboarding cases:
In Case of Voluntary Departure
When employees decide to leave the organization, it is customary for them to submit a written resignation letter. This letter serves multiple purposes. Firstly, it acts as an essential record-keeping document, ensuring a formal record of the employee’s intent to resign. Secondly, it provides HR and managers with a tangible notification, allowing them to initiate the offboarding process promptly.
Therefore, providing advance notice through a resignation letter enables HR professionals to effectively plan for workforce management, facilitating a seamless transition for both the departing employee and the organization.
Conducting an exit interview provides employers with a valuable opportunity to gather feedback from departing employees, gaining insights into their overall employee experience, reasons for leaving, and suggestions for improvement. This feedback can be instrumental in identifying patterns, trends, or areas of concern within the organization.
In addition, exit interviews serve as a platform to express appreciation and recognition for the departing employee’s contributions, reinforcing a positive employer brand and fostering goodwill even after their departure.
It is crucial to facilitate a knowledge transfer from the departing employee to equip their colleagues or replacement with the information essential to carrying out the duties of their role. There are several ways to carry out a knowledge transfer. One common practice is having the departing employee create a document listing their roles and responsibilities, outlining the status of each task, who the primary contacts are, and any relevant information to support the project. From there, you can arrange training sessions, follow up on pending deadlines, and coordinate with contacts to ensure no projects fall by the wayside.
Equipment and access return
It is crucial to ensure that departing employees return company property, such as laptops, access cards, keys, or other equipment.
Firstly, it helps protect the organization’s assets and prevents unauthorized access or misuse of company resources. Secondly, retrieving these items allows for proper inventory management, ensuring that resources are available for reassignment or future use. Lastly, maintaining a comprehensive record of all company assets will help you effectively plan for replacements, repairs, or upgrades in the budgeting process.
In Case of Involuntary Departure
When terminating an employee, preparing accurate and essential documents is crucial. This includes drafting a termination letter clearly communicating the reasons for termination, relevant dates, and any additional obligations, as well as gathering any warning letters for poor performance that may have been issued prior to termination. In addition to that, HR professionals should handle documentation for severance packages or agreements, when applicable. These documents outline the terms and conditions of financial compensation or benefits the departing employee may receive.
It is also essential to document the employee’s benefits status, including changes to health insurance, retirement plans, or other benefits resulting from the termination. Proper documentation ensures compliance and serves as a reference for both HR professionals and the employee in the future.
When an employee is being terminated, it is essential for organizations to conduct a meeting to communicate the reasons behind the decision. This meeting should be approached with sensitivity and respect, considering its impact on the employee.
Conducting a termination meeting is a best practice and a legal requirement in many jurisdictions, especially if the employee has completed their probationary period. The meeting allows the employee to gain insight into their performance and understand the reasons for the termination. It can serve as a constructive feedback session to help the employee learn from the experience, aiding their future career opportunities.
Exit interview (optional)
Exit interviews provide a platform for the departing employee to share their feedback, concerns, and insights about their experience within the organization. It can also help identify patterns or systemic issues within the organization that may be contributing to employee turnover.
However, there may be situations where conducting an exit interview with an involuntarily departing employee may not be appropriate. For example, if the termination involves legal complexities or concerns about potential conflicts or misconduct, it may be advisable to forgo the exit interview to minimize potential risks or complications.
Equipment and access retrieval
Similar to voluntary departures, it is essential to collect company property from a terminated employee, including laptops, access cards, keys, and any other relevant items.
In certain circumstances, depending on the nature of the termination, it may be necessary to coordinate with the IT department to revoke the employee’s access during the termination meeting. This precautionary measure helps mitigate potential security issues and ensures that the terminated employee no longer has unauthorized access to company systems or sensitive information.
In Case of Retirement
When employees decide to retire from the organization, it is customary for them to provide a formal retirement notification to their supervisors and HR department. This notification serves as a crucial record-keeping document, confirming the employee’s intent to retire and initiating the offboarding process promptly.
Planning for succession
Retirement offers an opportunity for organizations to plan for succession and ensure a smooth transition of responsibilities. HR professionals and managers should work together to identify suitable candidates to fill the retiring employee’s role. This involves evaluating internal talent, considering potential promotions or transfers, and initiating recruitment if necessary.
To facilitate a seamless transition, it is essential to capture the retiring employee’s knowledge and expertise. This can be done through various methods, such as documenting their roles and responsibilities, creating process manuals, or conducting training sessions. Encouraging retiring employees to share their insights can significantly benefit the organization and assist in transferring critical information to their successors.
Benefits and retirement packages
HR professionals should ensure a smooth transition of retirement benefits. This includes providing retiring employees with information on pension plans, retirement savings accounts, healthcare coverage, and any other applicable benefits.
Clear communication regarding the process, paperwork requirements, and deadlines should be provided to retiring employees, allowing them to navigate the retirement process with ease.
Exit interviews or surveys
Similar to other offboarding scenarios, conducting exit interviews or surveys with retiring employees can offer valuable insights and feedback. These conversations can cover a range of topics, such as overall job satisfaction, organizational culture, and suggestions for improvement.
In Case of Death
Notification and condolences
When an employee passes away, it is essential to handle the situation with compassion and sensitivity. HR should promptly notify employees, supervisors, and relevant stakeholders of the employee’s death. This notification should be accompanied by a message expressing condolences and support to the family during this difficult time.
Providing support to the family
HR professionals should reach out to the family to offer assistance, including guidance on filing for benefits, insurance claims, and any other financial or administrative matters. It is crucial to maintain open lines of communication and be responsive to the family’s needs, providing guidance and support throughout the process.
Upon an employee’s death, it is necessary to assess their workload and redistribute responsibilities among the remaining team members. HR and managers should work together to identify critical tasks and projects and ensure they are assigned to individuals who can handle them effectively. This reallocation process should be communicated clearly to the team, with a focus on minimizing disruption and maintaining productivity during the transition period.
Legacy and tribute
Recognizing the deceased employee’s contributions and legacy is an important part of the offboarding process. This may include honoring their achievements, sharing anecdotes or stories that highlight their impact, or establishing a memorial or tribute in their memory. Creating a lasting tribute not only pays respect to the employee but also serves as a source of closure for your team.
Pro tip: You can tailor these components to your company policies, legal requirements, and specific circumstances surrounding your employee’s departure. Some organizations may require additional steps or processes specific to their industry.
Final pay and benefits
In the offboarding process, it is crucial to ensure that the departing employee receives their final paycheck and pertinent information regarding their benefits. This typically encompasses any outstanding wages, including accrued leave balances or unused benefits. Timely payment of the final paycheck demonstrates compliance with employment regulations.
Be sure to also provide information regarding the continuation of benefits or their eligibility for any post-employment benefits. This may include details about healthcare coverage, retirement plans, or life insurance. Clear communication about benefit options helps the departing employee understand their options and make informed decisions regarding their future coverage.
Cancellation of accounts and access
Revoking access to company systems, email accounts, and other confidential information is a critical step in the offboarding process. It is essential to coordinate with the IT department to promptly cancel the departing employee’s accounts and revoke their access privileges. This measure is crucial to protect sensitive data and prevent unauthorized access or potential security breaches.
HR and administrative tasks
As you handle the offboarding process, several essential administrative tasks must be considered. First, update the departing employee’s records to reflect their departure accurately. This includes noting their termination date and updating their employment status.
Additionally, remove the departing employee from organizational charts to maintain an accurate representation of the company’s structure, update contact lists, and remove the employee’s information to ensure up-to-date and accurate contact details for relevant stakeholders.
Lastly, notify the necessary departments about the employee’s departure, such as IT, payroll, and benefits. This ensures they can take appropriate actions, such as revoking system access, updating payroll records, and addressing benefits-related matters.
When an employee is preparing to depart, it is essential to develop a transition plan to facilitate a seamless continuation of work within the team. This plan involves redistributing the departing employee’s workload to other team members, ensuring that tasks and responsibilities are appropriately reassigned.
A crucial part of transition planning is facilitating a knowledge transfer. As part of the plan, it is crucial to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and expertise from the departing employee to their colleagues. This ensures that critical information, processes, and insights are shared, enabling the team to carry out the work without interruption effectively.
In addition to the standard offboarding process, some companies offer additional support programs to aid their past employees during the transition period. These programs aim to provide additional assistance and resources to help employees navigate new employment challenges. Some potential programs include career coaching services, mental health resources, and resume reviewing services.
For example, while cost-cutting measures led to employee layoffs during the COVID-19, Airbnb took proactive steps to support their former employees that were affected. The HR team created a talent directory that showcased the achievements of their past employees during their tenure with the company to highlight their skills and help them seek new employment.
In a show of dedication, a significant portion of Airbnb’s recruitment team focused on alumni placement, using the talent directory as a tool to connect laid-off employees with potential job opportunities. This initiative aimed to assist 1,900 affected employees in finding new employment and easing their transition.
7 Steps for a Successful Offboarding Process
“One of the biggest misconceptions about employee offboarding is that it has to be financially costly,” says Alison Dachner, management professor at John Carroll University.
It’s no secret that a well-executed offboarding process requires time and effort, but it doesn’t necessarily require a substantial financial investment, especially when well-managed.
1. Thank your employee for their contributions
During your exit interview, be sure to thank your departing employee for their efforts and dedication. Regardless of the circumstances of their departure, it’s important to recognize the work done, which boosts morale and helps foster a positive sentiment around their time at your organization.
In addition, ensure that the departing employee receives a formal thank you email from the company, signed by relevant leaders or managers. This email is a lasting testament to their impact and can be proudly included in their professional portfolio.
All in all, be as transparent and open as possible and keep up your healthy management practices until the very last day.
What if the employee is leaving due to a policy violation?
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding an employee’s departure, It’s essential for HR to remain neutral, professional, and positive in their offboarding practices.
“Rather than dwelling on any possible negatives, it’s important to leave off with compliments, advice, or simple well wishes. This way, the employee’s very last impression of you and your company is good,” says John Berry, CEO of Berry Law.
2. Communicate the departure to team members
It’s vital to effectively communicate an employee’s departure to ensure a smooth organizational transition. Schedule a 1-on-1 or team meeting to inform immediate teammates, and send a company-wide email to inform colleagues about the employee’s departure. Ensure you provide only the essential details, such as the departure date and appropriate transition plans. If the employee is leaving voluntarily, get their consent before sharing details such as retirement.
Here’s a template you can use for informing your company of an employee departure:
I wanted to inform you that [employee’s name] will depart our organization on [departure date]. Their last day with us will be [date]. We appreciate [employee’s name]’s contributions and dedication during their time here, and we wish them the best in their future endeavors.
As we progress, we will work on a smooth transition plan to ensure minimal disruption to our operations. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or require further information.
Next, update all internal systems, such as HR records, email distribution lists, and organizational charts, to reflect the employee’s departure. Moreover, update shared documents or project management tools to reassign tasks and delegate responsibilities.
3. Facilitate a knowledge transfer
A smooth knowledge transfer process ensures that valuable information and expertise are passed on effectively. Knowledge transfers aren’t limited to documents and guidelines, it also includes the historical knowledge and context an employee has gathered during their time in their role. To ensure a well-rounded knowledge transfer, be sure to cover the following:
- Determine the critical areas of employee knowledge, such as project details, client information, primary points of contact, status updates, and specialized skills.
- Set up dedicated knowledge-sharing sessions between the departing employee and their team members. This can include 1-on-1 meetings, group discussions, or training sessions.
- Encourage the departing employee to create comprehensive documentation, guidelines, or manuals that capture essential processes, procedures, and insights.
- You can only teach some things from a long list of documents and guidelines. Due to this, you must ensure the knowledge gained from personal experiences, which are harder to document, reach your employees through informal conversations and training sessions.
- Emphasize the importance of open communication during the knowledge transfer phase. Encourage employees to ask questions, take notes, and speak up if they require additional clarification.
- Lastly, ensure timely check-in on the knowledge transfer progress, address challenges promptly, and provide additional resources or training as needed.
4. Recover company assets and revoke system access
Recovering company assets and revoking system access is crucial to protect sensitive information. It reduces the risk of unauthorized data breaches or misuse of confidential information.
Start by creating a comprehensive offboarding checklist of all company assets the departing employee needs to return. This may include laptops, mobile devices, access badges, keys or company credit cards.
Next, schedule a meeting with the departing employee to collect the company assets. Choose a convenient date, time, and location for both parties involved. During the meeting, review the checklist and physically collect each item from the departing employee and check their condition.
Simultaneously, coordinate with the IT department to revoke the departing employee’s access to company systems, networks, email accounts, and other digital platforms. Timely revocation of permits helps protect sensitive data and ensures the departing employee can no longer enter confidential information.
If not done immediately, here’s what you might find on Twitter:
Avoid serious data leaks with timely access revocation
Ignoring this step can lead to severe data leaks. In 2021, a disgruntled ex-executive from security SaaS company Proofpoint took trade secrets to one of their biggest competitors. He revealed all major strategies to compete, and the company suffered. While an extreme case, Proofpoint’s story is an example of why timely access revocation is crucial to avoid data leaks and security breaches.
5. Conduct an exit interview
Exit interviews can be a major eye-opener for your organization. They not only allow you to receive candid feedback on your employee experience but offer a unique perspective into the pain points of your company and management practices.
Conducting exit interviews help organizations to make necessary changes to improve company culture and reduce employee turnover.
Here are some things you must consider to conduct a successful exit interview:
- Schedule the interview at the convenience of your departing employee, but make it timely. It’s important to gather feedback while the experience is still fresh on the mind of your departing employee. The longer you wait to conduct an exit interview, the less likely your employee will be to attend or accurately report on their experience.
- Tailor the exit interview questions to the specific role, tenure, and situation of your employee.
- Create a comfortable, private environment where employees can freely share their views and experience.
- Ask open-ended questions that prompt detailed responses such as, “What factors contributed to your decision to leave?” or, “What are your suggestions for improving the company culture?”
- Ask follow-up questions to understand specific issues in detail.
- Document their feedback and compare it with other exit interviews to identify patterns.
- Use the insights gained from the exit interview to make necessary improvements to your processes and overall culture.
Contrary to popular belief, exit interviews are not restricted to finding the reasons for employees leaving. They’re also an opportunity to leave the door open for your top performers.
As Joshua Host, the founder of Thrivelab explains, “Indicate if you’re open to the offboarding employee returning to your company. With the rise of boomerang employment in an uncertain economy, this makes a significant impression on the professional and can ultimately lead to your best employees possibly returning.”
On that note, see how Createwithflow went the extra mile to show its best employees that they are always welcome.
6. Update organizational charts and documents
Updating organizational charts and documents is crucial to accurately represent the organization’s structure and responsibilities after an employee departs.
Begin by reviewing the existing organizational charts to identify the employee’s position and reporting structure. Next, determine if any roles need adjustments or redistribution to maintain workflow efficiency. Finally, update the organizational chart accordingly, indicating the vacant position and any reassignments or promotions resulting from the departure.
In addition to organizational charts, review and update relevant documents such as employee directories, team lists, and job descriptions. This will ensure clarity and transparency within the organization, facilitating smooth transitions and effective communication among team members.
7. Arrange final payments and benefits
Initiate the process by reviewing the employee’s contract, company policies, and applicable employment laws to determine the final payments and benefits owed. This may include any remaining salary, accrued vacation or sick leave, bonuses, commissions, and retirement contributions.
Calculate the amounts owed based on the employee’s tenure, accrued time off, and contractual agreements. Next, coordinate with your finance team to process the final payment. Finally, consider any legal requirements or internal policies to set a clear timeline for disbursing the amount.
Lastly, communicate with the departing employee about their final payment and benefits package details. Provide a breakdown of the amounts and any supporting documentation if necessary. Address any questions or concerns they may have regarding the process.
Tools For an Effective Offboarding Process
Now that you know the steps involved in conducting an employee offboarding process, you’ll need the help of specific tools to ensure you can easily carry out the offboarding process.
An offboarding checklist is like a “to-do” list for bidding farewell to employees. It helps ensure a smooth offboarding process without missing out on any core aspect. Here are some key things you must include on your employee offboarding checklist:
- Return of company assets
- System access revocation
- Exit interviews/surveys
- Transfer of responsibilities
- Information about benefits and retirement plans
- Exit documentation
- Final payments and benefits
Note that sometimes employees prefer to forgo an exit interview. In such a scenario, Asker Ahmed, the Director of iProcess Global Research Inc., suggests adding an exit survey to your offboarding checklist. Understanding why an employee is leaving a company can allow businesses to adjust to retain other employees.
Ahmed adds that if the employee leaves for a comparable position with higher pay, businesses may need to reevaluate their compensation structure to remain competitive. And if an employee is leaving due to management issues, companies may want to consider providing management or leadership training.
Email can be a valuable tool for various aspects of the employee offboarding process. Let’s look at some ways you can utilize email to communicate offboarding tasks effectively.
- Departure announcement
A departure announcement email can inform relevant stakeholders about the departing employee’s name, position, last day of work, and any pertinent details about their replacement or interim arrangements.
- Communication of offboarding tasks
Email can effectively communicate offboarding tasks, such as returning company property, scheduling exit interviews, and transferring project files. This ensures that all parties know their roles during the offboarding process.
- Account and access notifications
Email can be used to notify IT administrators, system administrators, and managers about necessary account adjustments. This ensures that company systems, applications, and data access is promptly updated and aligned with the departing employee’s departure date.
- Collecting feedback
Email can also help to collect feedback from departing employees through exit surveys or feedback forms. Moreover, sending an email with a link to an online survey or attaching a questionnaire can streamline the feedback collection process and is an effective method for employees who prefer to avoid a formal exit interview.
While email is a valuable tool for offboarding, it’s essential to complement it with other tools to ensure a comprehensive offboarding experience for both the departing employee and the organization.
3. Automation software
Automation software can significantly streamline and enhance the employee offboarding process. With so many tasks and follow-ups required during the onboarding process, automation can help digitize manual tasks, track and organize employee data, and ensure a smooth transition when employees leave your organization, all while saving you time and streamlining your offboarding workflows. There are many benefits to leveraging automation software during your onboarding process, such as:
- Saves time
Automation software streamlines the offboarding workflow by guiding HR professionals and managers through the necessary steps. It eliminates manual tasks, reduces paperwork, automates follow-ups, and saves valuable time, allowing HR teams to focus on other strategic initiatives.
- Efficient task management
Investing in automation software ensures efficient tracking and management of offboarding-related tasks and documents. HR professionals can assign tasks, set deadlines, and monitor progress, ensuring timely completion. Documents such as exit interviews, separation agreements, and final paycheck details can be automatically generated, securely stored, and easily accessed when needed.
- Sends automated reminders
Automation software sends automated reminders to relevant stakeholders, ensuring that all pending tasks are addressed promptly. It helps in maintaining timelines, coordinating activities, and avoiding delays in the offboarding process.
- Enhanced communication
Automation software facilitates seamless communication between HR, managers, and the departing employee. It enables the sending of automated notifications and updates, keeping all parties informed throughout the offboarding process. This improves transparency, collaboration, and coordination among different departments.
- Simplified access management
Automation software simplifies the process of revoking access and permissions to various systems, databases, and accounts. It helps ensure data security by automatically disabling or removing access for the departing employee, reducing the risk of unauthorized access.
Create Impactful Offboarding with Omni
When it comes to offboarding, Omni is your comprehensive solution that enables a seamless and efficient offboarding experience. Omni’s all-in-one HR management software allows you to seamlessly update employee records, communicate to relevant stakeholders and departments, and facilitate the entire end-to-end offboarding process in one, easy to use system, putting an end to silos and miscommunication.
Omni brings teams together, fostering collaboration and transparency by enabling smooth communication across departments, ensuring everyone is on the same page throughout the offboarding journey.
With Omni, you can say goodbye to manual paperwork and administrative tasks with streamlined workflows and automated reminders to carry out every step of the offboarding process; from initiating offboarding requests to managing tasks, documents, and access revocation, and even starting the recruitment process to backfill open positions.
To learn more about how Omni elevates your offboarding process and reduces inefficiencies, book a demo with our team today!