Employee offboarding is a significant moment for every organization. It can affect one's reputation and cause security threats if not done properly. This process is inevitable for every employee and organization.
It sets the tone for an employee’s attitude towards the company and possibly affects the company’s relationship with its present employees.
Often, employers do not pay much attention to the employee offboarding procedure. This may lead to errors in the process, careless overlooks, and a rather bumpy experience. To avoid these pitfalls, there are certain process points and checklists you should abide by.
First of all, you need an in-depth understanding of the employee offboarding concept and process.
What Is Employee Offboarding?
The process of separating an employee from an organization after they resign or retire is known as offboarding. Irrespective of whether the employee has resigned or been terminated, they have to go through the offboarding process.
This process can be of two types:
- Virtual offboarding, for remote employees (esp. during Covid-19)
- Executive offboarding, for regular and senior employees
If either of the two scenarios, there are certain procedures to be followed before letting the employee go formally. These processes may not seem significant to the stakeholders of the organization, but they control the opinion and attitude that employees have may towards their company.
Ideally, the offboarding process begins after the employee submits the resignation in writing or on record. Then follows a series of employee offboarding steps that are mandatory for the separation. After all the formalities are done, the employee is considered officially detached from the company and is free to pursue other goals.
Often, during the offboarding process, there might be disagreements between the employer and employee regarding various issues, like the notice period, leave compensation, required documentation, etc. How you deal with the issues sets the tone for the entire interaction and may affect the offboarding process as a whole.
Keeping this thought in mind, the organization should maintain an offboarding checklist to ensure the smooth transition of the employee.
Checklist for a Smooth Employee Offboarding Process
The onboarding and offboarding process in any company can be complicated. With respect to offboarding, often, companies assign significant tasks and entrust confidential documents to their employees.
Hence, to make the offboarding process smooth and effective, every aspect of the employee’s lifecycle has to be taken into consideration. For this, there are certain points to keep in mind. Preparing a checklist can be immensely helpful.
Initiate the offboarding process
When the time comes for an employee to separate from an organization, several tasks must be performed before finalizing the exit. Now, the time period between the resignation and exit date depends on whether the employee is leaving wilfully or owing to the management’s decision.
In the case of the latter, the procedure needs to be completed in a day or two, whereas otherwise, the whole notice period can be used to get things in order. However, in both circumstances, there are a set up of tasks that initiate the offboarding process.
- Get the formal resignation in writing.
- Communicate the decision with the concerned department and HR.
- Start the exit documentation.
- Finalize the last working day and final payroll date. Clear any confusion that the employee has regarding the same.
- Notify the IT department early so they can be prepared to handle information handover and associated tasks.
Ensure smooth knowledge transfer
Knowledge transfer is a crucial piece of the onboarding process. Each employee in the organization is entrusted with information essential for their job role. Before letting an employee go, you should ensure any record or information with that particular employee is passed along or backed up.
If the employee works with a client, early steps need to be taken to make the transition smooth. It is a good idea to assign another employee to the same work and train them to take over the new role after the current employee’s exit is completed.
In the case of some organizations, specific paperwork like Non-disclosure agreements, testimonials, etc., are mandatory. Make sure those are completed on time. If the employee has exclusive access to certain files, code, or password, ensure the access is transferred to another employee or manager.
Conduct the Exit Interview
The Exit Interview is an opportunity for the organization to get an insight into their shortcomings and problem areas, as perceived by employees. Hence, it must be conducted for successful offboarding.
An ideal Exit Interview should have questions about the employee’s work experience at the company, areas of improvement, and specific feedback.
As an employer, you should not be offended by the feedback or hamper the employee’s future due to their criticism. Instead, focus on the highlighted points and deliberate whether they can be improved for the others’ benefit.
Focus on asset recovery
Sometimes, companies forget to recover assets from a resigning employee. To ensure successful asset recovery, a record must be maintained since the onboarding. Make a list of the resources or assets you provide to an employee when they join. And make sure those are recovered or retired before exit.
Assets may include laptops, key cards, mobile phones, hard drives, keys, uniforms, tools, gadgets, etc. Often, these assets are expensive and contain valuable information. If these fall into the wrong hands or are leaked in public, they may harm the company’s reputation.
Ensure you have amiable terms
Many times, you may be sad to let an employee go and wish to open a channel for their return. In such cases, it is essential to part cordially. Even if the employee has been terminated, the best practice is to avoid bad blood as much as possible.
Hold a farewell program, give a thoughtful gift, and ask the employee to join your alumni group, if any. If the employee is terminated for poor performance, document the follies in detailed steps to avoid lawsuits in the future. Your goal is to create and preserve a friendly relationship with the workforce.
Pay attention to details before closing the process
The offboarding process doesn't end for the organization on the last working day of the employee. After the exit, ensure you close the email and chat accounts, delete any personal information required, and update your database with the change.
Along with this, make sure you update the company’s hierarchy, clean the workstation, redirect emails and calls, change relevant passwords, and remove access to company resources.
Best Practices for an Effective Employee Offboarding
Certain best practices must be kept in mind while transitioning an employee from your organization. Put in as much effort as you had during the onboarding process.
Gossip mills work overtime when an employee decides to quit their organization. To avoid rumors and misinformation, make sure you are responsible for communicating the impending change.
Inform the employee’s team and associated workforce about the employee’s last working day and provide some information, if not confidential, about the decision. This will avoid unnecessary gossip and make it easier for the employee to answer the questions of their peers.
End on a positive note
The last day of an employee should be made memorable. For that, you can organize a party, play some games, and let them give a speech about their time in the organization. Encourage positive feedback about the work and company, and ask them to stay in touch by updating contact details.
If your organization supports rehiring, inform the employee that you will be happy to bring them back to the family. Remember that the last impression is as effective as the first impression.
Review documentation and plan work hand-off
Review the exit documents carefully to avoid loopholes and oversight. Ensure you promptly release the Experience letter. The employee should not have to contact the company multiple times to get what is due to them.
Handing off work is a tricky process when an employee decides to leave an organization. It is helpful to recognize a capable person to take over their duties and train the person for the new workload before the exit date. There should be no confusion in the work process after an employee leaves.
Reset passwords and accounts promptly
It is not enough to only deactivate email IDs to protect confidential information. Identify whether the employee has access to company resources through their personal email ID. If so, revoke the access as soon as the exit is finalized.
If the offboarding individual was in charge of the organization’s social media pages, change the password after the transition. This is mandatory to protect sensitive information from being leaked, as that can malign the reputation of an organization.
Acknowledge the employee’s feelings
If you want to work towards building a positive relationship with your workforce, you need to acknowledge their feelings and grievances. If an employee brings up any complaints towards the company while leaving, you should not dismiss it before investigating the cause.
Often, you may see that concentrating on the employee’s feelings, and mental health leads to a more dedicated workforce. They should never feel that the management does not care about them, even while someone is going through the severance process.
Maintaining a smooth and thorough offboarding process is crucial for a company to build a reputation in the job market. If you can build a positive review base, the best and most talented people will choose to work for you.