Saying Farewell in Style: Mastering the Art of the Offboarding Process

Many companies have an onboarding process and know what to do when welcoming employees into the fold of everyday operations and processes.

But what about offboarding?

In a Zippia survey, 71% of respondents said they had no formal offboarding process, which shows that either companies haven’t created their offboarding process yet or are confused about implementing one.

An offboarding process can be an opportunity to change how you work throughout the year. Having an employee leave may be unfortunate, but you can use this as a learning experience to improve your company for current and future employees.

What is offboarding and its advantages?

Like onboarding is transitioning a new employee in, offboarding is transitioning an employee out, whether it means the employee is voluntarily resigning, laid off, or terminated.

No matter the circumstances, employees leaving can lead to stress, but this stress can be alleviated somewhat with an offboarding plan that:

  • Lessens security risks
  • Prevents legal issues
  • Helps manage challenges of transitioning the work/team
  • Gives you feedback for improvement

Create your offboarding process

While you shouldn’t wait until a resignation or otherwise to implement an offboarding process (as the processes should be in place long before then), it is never too late to start creating one. A substantial offboarding project will make for a positive employee experience they will remember long after they leave.

Avoid on-the-fly approaches when building your process, and don’t reinvent the wheel every time! Have templated communications for emails to send to set the stage.

Here’s what else you should consider:

What do you need to notify your employees of?

Regardless of how someone leaves your company, you must tell them what to expect. This includes what will happen on their last day of work, when they can expect their final paycheck, and what happens to benefits upon their departure. Being straightforward and transparent about what they can expect is important to maintain positive relationships.

How will you inform the team?

You don’t want to dance around an employee’s departure. Whether you inform each team member individually or the team as a whole (through an onsite office/video meeting, a Slack/Teams announcement, or email), letting the team know an employee is leaving will give everyone a chance to talk to them and thank them for all they’ve done and contributed. It will also provide critical insight and set the expectation that projects the departing employee is involved in will likely be disrupted.

What paperwork will they need to fill out?

You may want specific information for your files, such as a resignation letter, signed agreements, or updated personal information to send employees any necessary tax or healthcare documents. These are documents you can always refer to when needed.

What will happen to their benefits?

When an employee leaves, what will happen to benefits, such as health insurance, retirement accounts, and other perks? Provide clear guidance on what will happen to avoid confusion and potential misunderstandings. For example, “Benefits will be valid through the final month of termination unless you’ve selected COBRA.”

How will you handle access to company systems, accounts, equipment, and documents?

Your employee will likely have access to a company email, content management systems, and other programs. They may also have access to company equipment, like keys, badges, credit cards, uniforms, phones, laptops, cars, or sensitive documents. Ensuring any access is revoked will help protect the company from unintended access. This may be a lengthy process, so have a list prepared of software platforms and admin logins to revoke access systematically.

How will you handle knowledge transfer?

Projects will be left behind and unfinished, and there will be information the employee takes with them when they leave if you haven’t, ideally, collected this information regularly.

Have your departing employee transfer their knowledge, whether through training videos, one-on-one explanatory calls, or having them take notes/create documents about how to handle the projects and their processes.

Knowledge transfer can also give you an idea of the following:

  • Daily routines
  • What systems and files the employee uses/has access to
  • Who an employee works with and reports to
  • How an employee prioritizes and accomplishes their tasks
  • If any systems used will require training before replacements can use them

This way, work can continue without interruption, and the person who takes over the vacated position will feel more at ease.

Will you conduct an exit interview?

Employee feedback is important to receive regularly through meetings and one-on-one talks. Exit interview feedback is also important, so your last interactions with them aren’t left on a bad note, regardless of how they’re departing. Conducting an exit interview will help you gain even more valuable feedback you can use later to improve company policies, practices, and culture.

Will you stay in contact?

Staying in touch is a good way to show kindness and appreciation long after your employee has moved on. Depending on the relationship, it could be as simple as staying connected on LinkedIn through phone calls or emails, meeting for coffee or meals, or inviting them to company events.

Another way you can keep in contact is by forming an employee alumni group, either officially through the company or unofficially through virtual means, like LinkedIn. This will allow you to leverage community feedback and continue to build strong relationships.

Master the art of offboarding

The offboarding process may seem less than appealing, as it focuses on employees leaving. However, the prospect of team members leaving may serve as an incentive to establish a structured offboarding strategy, develop needed templates and documents, and consistently gather valuable feedback year-round.

How you say farewell speaks volumes about your company culture, so take the time to master the art of offboarding and create a thoughtful, meaningful experience for all involved.


Content provided by Q4intelligence

Photo by andreypopov