What is Offboarding Experience and Why It Matters for Your Business

May 20, 2023

Most companies invest a lot of time and resources in onboarding new employees, but what about when it's time for them to leave? 

Offboarding is an essential part of the employee journey, and a well-rounded process can lead to positive results for both the company and the departing employee. 

A typical offboarding process too often turns into a massively confusing puzzle. 

From transitioning projects to other team members to managing mountains of paperwork and navigating exit interviews, offboarding can be tiring for the employer and the employee.

That's why offboarding period at any company should be intentionally designed to ensure a smooth transition for the employee. 

A great offboarding process will be a positive send-off to the employee, improving your employer's reputation. 

In this post, we'll explore the idea of offboarding experience and why prioritizing is important.

What Is Employee Offboarding?

Employee offboarding is the process of separating a former employee from a company. 

This can occur voluntarily, such as when an employee resigns or retires, or involuntarily, like when an employee is terminated. 

The offboarding process often involves several key components, including returning company property, concluding financial and administrative matters, and providing feedback to help the company improve.

What Is Offboarding Experience?

Offboarding experience refers to how an employee perceives their departure from a company. 

While it may seem less critical than onboarding, a positive offboarding experience can lead to benefits like alumni status, brand advocacy, and even returning as a "boomerang employee." 

Treating departing employees with respect and care can also create goodwill and positive word-of-mouth, benefiting a company's employer brand.

Why Is Employee Offboarding Important?

1. Drives Brand Advocacy

Employees leaving a company is an easy opportunity for competition to poach or undermine a company's efforts and reputation.

However, companies that prioritize offboarding can help ensure that employees leave on a positive term, even if they depart for negative reasons. 

This can encourage them to become brand advocates and refer future talent to the company.

2. Encourages Boomerang Employees

Boomerang employees are former employees who later return to the company. 

They are often attractive hires since they know the company culture and have relevant experience. 

You do not have to go through a tedious onboarding process for Boomerang employees because they already know the lay of the land. 

Providing a positive offboarding experience can open these employees' doors to return.

3. Provides Valuable Company Feedback

Departing employees have insights into company culture, strengths, and weaknesses and can provide valuable feedback during offboarding. 

This feedback can help improve employee retention, satisfaction, and overall company performance.

4. Increases Data Security

An offboarding process improves company security and protects sensitive company data. 

Because it includes the return of company equipment, cancellation of access to networks and systems, and retrieval of sensitive data such as passwords can help reduce the risk of data breaches.

5. Reduces Compliance Risks

Offboarding procedures can be critical in ensuring adherence to legal compliance measures.

Sometimes departing team members try to sue you if the company does not stick to a smooth offboarding process.  

Companies can reduce the risk of costly fines, lawsuits, and legal disputes by thoroughly concluding final matters and adequately documenting the exit interview process.

What to Do to Ensure a Smooth Employee Offboarding Process

1. Treat Departing Employees With Fairness and Kindness

There's no denying that an employee's departure can be an emotional and stressful process. 

Exiting employees may feel various emotions, including sadness, anger, or frustration.

As an HR manager or employer, it's crucial to treat departing employees with kindness and fairness, as they've contributed to the company's success. 

Emphasizing fairness and kindness in the offboarding process will help to ensure that the employee leaves with good feelings and will speak well of the company afterward.

2. Determine the Reason for the Exit

It's important to determine the reason for the employee's exit. 

Knowing why the employee is leaving can provide valuable insights into your company's strengths and weaknesses. 

The employee feedback will also help you to treat current employees with care. 

It can also help identify areas needing improvement to increase employee engagement and retention. 

Understanding the employee's reasons for leaving can also help craft a tailored, successful offboarding process to meet their needs.

3. Communicate to the Other Teams About the Departure

Communicate the employee's departure to their team and any other relevant teams. 

Ideally, this should be done in a manner that is respectful and empathetic. 

Ensure that the departing employee's team has the necessary information to carry out projects and tasks that the employee was working on. 

Proper communication can help to maintain morale and productivity and avoid any confusion or duplication of work.

4. Ensure a Successful Knowledge Transfer

Ensure that the departing employee transfers their knowledge to others, so their work can continue seamlessly.

For example, it is essential to ensure that the departing employee's successor is adequately prepared, understands the job requirements, and will be able to maintain the same quality of work.

Make sure you follow the proper process of knowledge transfer. Plan out how the employee transfers the knowledge, to whom they transfer it, and along what timeline. 

  • Have a clear understanding of the departing employee's daily routine and which team they work with.
  • Ask which tasks are a priority and what their role entails. 
  • Gain access to the software, data sets, and files the employee uses.

5. Secure Property and Revoke Access

Ensure company-issued equipment and property, such as laptops or access cards, are returned before the employee's departure. 

Additionally, revoke employee access to company accounts or platforms they will no longer be authorized to use.

The employee handbook should provide clear guidelines on this aspect of the offboarding process.

6. Sign the Paperwork and Make Final Payments

Ensure that all the necessary paperwork is completed and signed. This includes any documentation related to benefits, insurance, and contract termination. 

Ensure that the employee's final payment, which includes compensation for their last working month or two, vacation pay, and any contributions, is made on or before their last day of work.

 7. Conduct an Exit Interview to Gather Insights and Collect Data

An exit interview can be a handy tool for companies. 

It allows them to gather invaluable information about why an employee is leaving and their experience working for the company. 

The information gathered in an exit interview provides HR managers and other leaders with insights into areas that might require improvements, such as the company's management, culture, work-life balance, and compensation. 

It's essential to conduct exit interviews with sensitivity so departing employees feel heard.

Here are some tips on how to organize an exit interview. 

  • Assign a neutral party, like someone from HR, to do the interview.
  • Take all feedback seriously and ask questions like - 
  • Who do you admire? 
  • Is there anything we could have done to make you stay? 
  • What are we not doing that we should be doing?

8. Stay in Touch

Maintaining a positive relationship with departing employees afterward can benefit both the company and the existing employee. 

Maintaining a positive relationship with the employee creates future employment opportunities, references in applications, industry collaborations, and even networking opportunities. 

In the long term, ex-employees may also be potential customers.

FAQs: Offboarding Experience

What is the importance of offboarding experience?

Offboarding experiences are important for both employees and employers. Positive experiences can increase retention rates and enhance a company's reputation.

What is an example of offboarding?

An example of an offboarding process is asking an employee to participate in an exit interview, collecting office equipment, returning security badges, and deactivating accounts.

What is the difference between onboarding and offboarding?

Onboarding integrates a new employee into the organization, while offboarding separates an employee from the organization.

Why is offboarding important?

Offboarding is vital for maintaining positive relationships with former employees and showcasing an appreciation for their contributions to the company.

What is one of the key parts of a successful offboarding?

Provide constructive feedback and clear information to employees during offboarding. Offer resources for their future career and maintain a respectful and professional attitude. This highlights their positive contributions and leaves a positive impression on the organization.

Conclusion: Offboarding Experience

A smooth offboarding process can go a long way in maintaining a positive relationship between the company and the departing employee. 

Following these tips and providing adequate support and guidance throughout the offboarding offers an opportunity for a respectful and positive transition. 

The process can also yield valuable insights into areas for growth and improvement. 

Finally, treating departing employees with kindness and courtesy can help to promote the company's good image and reputation in the industry.

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