How to Offboard An Employee

You only get one chance to make a first impression. But what about the last one? Today, we’re talking about offboarding, and why creating a meaningful experience is so important for employees closing their chapter with your company.

  • Nitzan Michman
    Nitzan Michman

    January 10, 2023

  • You only get one chance to make a first impression. But what about the last one? Today, we’re talking about offboarding, and why creating a meaningful experience is so important for employees closing their chapter with your company.

    Saying goodbye doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, offboarding gives your organization the chance to end things on a positive note with someone who's decided to leave. Even if they may have had some negative experiences, offboarding can ultimately leave someone feeling validated and supported during their exit.

    Offboarding vs. Onboarding

    Onboarding is the process of welcoming new hires to your company, assimilating them to the organization’s culture, and providing any necessary training to fulfill their role. It includes distributing equipment, setting up accounts, and introducing employees to their new team.

    Offboarding is the reverse process. You help employees gracefully and strategically step down from their role. You recollect any materials they were given (like a company laptop), help them turn over any accounts and data, and say goodbye to the company.

    Why Offboarding Matters

    When you first started working with a company, you likely paid a lot of attention to how people treated you. Management’s involvement was important in helping you find your place within the company. The same is true for offboarding — it’s the last supportive act that a company provides to someone as they transition out of the organization.

    Here are a few of the benefits good offboarding provides:

    Easier transition for employees. When someone steps down from a company, they can leave noticeable skills gaps and responsibilities behind. A good offboarding process helps your company prepare for an employee’s departure by preparing their team, filling new roles, or strategically delegating tasks to others without disrupting current processes.

    Improve company reputation. You want someone’s parting impression of your company to be a good one. There are a lot of reasons people resign, and they aren’t always the organizations’ fault. Showing support and gratitude for someone’s hard work ultimately leaves them with a much more favorable impression of your business.

    Gain important feedback. Why did someone decide to leave? What would they have liked to see done differently? How can you make a role better for the person taking someone’s job? The answers to these questions are available if you conduct a good exit interview during your offboarding process.

    Ultimately, people are more likely to express their truth when they’re leaving. This gives your company a great opportunity to learn from their experiences and turn them into positive changes.

    Now that we know why offboarding is so important, let’s look at how to offboard an employee properly.

    Create an Offboard Journey

    Offboarding is a unique experience that should have its own progressive journey throughout your company. Start from the moment someone hands in their resignation letter. What comes next? You should have specific points along the way that guide them through next steps.

    This includes talking to HR, signing necessary paperwork, arranging their final paycheck, turning in company property, and handing off their job duties to a new hire or coworkers.

    You can even use a learning management system (LMS) to create a digital offboarding course. Employees can be guided step by step toward their exit, with on-demand support from HR along the way.

    Involve Management

    Management should continually check in with an employee as their final day with the company approaches. Ask them if they need anything, or how you could help them make their transition easier.

    If they’re training their replacement, routinely follow up and ask how things are going. If there’s any confusion or difficulty, work hard to address them, so everyone feels supported during this period of change.

    Collaborate Their Goodbyes

    Employees shouldn’t have their resignation announced without their consent. Ask them when and how they’d like to say goodbye to their coworkers. You can later follow up with an email thanking them for their time and contributions.

    Ask for Their Thoughts

    Conduct an exit interview that gives the employee a chance to share everything about their time with your company. Ask about their best day, then ask about the worst. Let them know that you want to hear what they wish they’d had as an employee and thank them for being honest.

    If it’s appropriate, also let them know how much you valued their work and invite them to reapply with the company if the timing is right in the future.

    Offboarding Done Right

    When you learn how to offboard an employee, you also learn a lot about how to retain them, too. During the offboarding process, businesses can learn a lot about what it’s really like working for their company. If they’re willing to listen and learn, they can apply this information to improve their culture, and make their office a better place to work and connect for their remaining team.

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