The critical elements of an effective and positive employee offboarding
Engagement 4 minute read

The critical elements of an effective and positive employee offboarding

Megan Orr | April 29, 2021

Employee offboarding is an extremely important—but often overlooked—aspect of the employee experience. Offboarding is the process employees and managers go through from notice of resignation to an employee’s last days (and beyond). Offboarding includes transitioning over any ongoing or upcoming projects, completing an exit interview, and ensuring that any emails or other accounts are disabled the day of the employee’s departure.

The employee experience includes everything from the job application to your employee’s last day of work with your company. It’s important not to overlook the chance of creating one final positive experience through clear offboarding practices. 

A clear exit strategy helps employees feel supported and leave knowing that their time with your company mattered. Recognizing an employee’s specific contributions, or at the very least acknowledging their departure, is important for brand reputation management too.

However, a survey conducted by Software Advice found that only 14% of respondents “strongly agree their organization has an effective offboarding process”. Employee offboarding tends to be an afterthought, with the focus on how to manage once the employee is no longer there. 

Offboarding employees can be just as important as onboarding employees.

When offboarding is done right, it can help improve company culture. If possible, host a goodbye lunch or farewell meeting (in-person or virtually), have everyone sign an ecard (we like GroupGreeting), or write a company-wide email acknowledging the employee’s contributions.

There are a number of reasons why offboarding matters:

  • Offboarding allows insight into the reasons for a change of employment—was it compensation, management, career growth, or something else?
  • Employees can provide feedback on company culture and department dynamics
  • You can gain valuable information to help improve employee turnover

In order to keep communication clear and honest, it’s important to ensure that all offboarding tasks and steps happen smoothly.

Here’s a general overview of the offboarding timeline:

  1. A resignation letter is received from the employee to their direct manager, which will include confirmation of their departure date.
  2. The appropriate parties will be notified, such as IT/Payroll, to start the departure process.
  3. The direct manager will then work with the employee on the transition process:
    1. An overview of any ongoing projects, transitioning projects to other team members, and timelines. Start this step as early as possible.
    2. Feedback from the employee to transfer any additional knowledge or information needed for completion of projects and to the team. Ask for as much feedback as possible to ensure a smooth transition.
    3. Setting up an exit interview with the employee to learn more about why they’re leaving, what they liked about working for your company, and most importantly, what they didn’t like or wished they could change.

The exit interview allows employees a final opportunity to share their thoughts about the company and their work. 

Some important aspects of an exit interview:

  • Ask for insight into how the employee’s experience was with your company and how they felt about their team, projects, and job requirements. 
  • Ensure that any relevant exit documentation is completed before the employee’s last day and, if appropriate, provide a letter of reference for the employee or confirm the type of reference your company will provide (e.g. dates worked).
  • Ask open-ended questions and encourage honesty. 

There are also a number of actions for HR and management to take after the employee has left.

After the employee’s official departure, management should:

  • Check to ensure that all work was transferred appropriately and that employees who are potentially taking on additional tasks are able to reshift priorities as needed. 
  • Disable or forward the employee’s email to their manager, change passwords if necessary, and disable third-party logins (e.g. access to Google Analytics or the company’s social media accounts). 
  • If applicable, ensure that the employee’s hard drives are cleared and that the employee has returned all company property (such as a laptop or security keycard).
  • Ensure that you have the correct mailing address for any relevant tax information, such as T4s.
  • Share a summary of the exit interview feedback with relevant parties.

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