June 07, 2017 10:40 AM

How to Create the Perfect Employee Offboarding Process

There was a time not so long ago that an employee leaving may have coaxed the CEO from their office for an obligatory handshake and a slice of the ‘Sad to see you go’ cake in the canteen. Thankfully, the recruitment industry and those that work in HR are now clued-in to the fact that this is not quite what offboarding means. With this in mind, companies are now working hard to ensure that each phase of an employee’s work cycle is a pleasant and rewarding experience.

What is offboarding?

Simply put, offboarding is the process which an employee must go through when leaving a company. And contrary to popular belief, it’s not enough to ensure that the person leaving does so with a smile on their face and a ‘Good Luck’ card in their back pocket.

A successful offboarding program also ensures that the knowledge and experience an employee gained during their time with the company is either passed on to their colleagues or recorded in detail for future reference.

Determine the reason for leaving

There are hundreds of reasons to leave, and no two employees are the same so instead of guessing why they have a sudden urge to clear out their desk; ask them why. Create an open and frank dialogue and try to determine if the reason for their leaving is due to something the company could have done better.  

Is it the pay, the work culture, or the benefits? Are they disillusioned with the industry?

Understanding this can help an employer adapt to the changing demands of the present workforce and, in rare cases, may even result in an employee withdrawing their resignation.

Don’t waste that talent

Regardless of how long your employee stayed in their position, there will be certain nuggets of information such as the contacts they made or process shortcuts that only they will know. And working on the assumption that they tender their resignation with the standard period of notice given, they should be able to help train a replacement or, in an ideal world, take an active role in the search for a suitable candidate.

Of course, this helps the company (especially the recruiter) immeasurably allowing for a quick and easy transition with minimal disruption to the team or company’s output., but that’s not all.

By asking an employee for their advice on a suitable replacement, you reveal your confidence in their abilities. In effect, you are telling them that you value them so highly that you will still listen to their advice even though they have decided to leave. This vote of confidence instills a feeling of self-worth and encourages the leaving employee to speak highly of the company even when heading for pastures new.

Make former employees brand ambassadors

We’re by no means suggesting that your former employees wear company swag at their new job or retain admin rights to the company’s social media accounts. But what we do want is for them to speak well of their experience as an employee and their affinity for the brand and its work culture.  

However, all it takes is a negative offboarding experience for that wonderful employee to feel aggrieved no matter how much they enjoyed their time with the company. And let’s face it, in this day and age, the ranting ground of choice is whatever social media platform they prefer. If it’s Facebook, you just might have a chance that only their friends will read it, but if it’s Twitter or even a video on Youtube, you can expect that rant against your brand to go viral within minutes.

Make that last month or two of work a positive experience and your former employee will likely rave about the brand to their friends, recommend the company to other professionals, and leave a positive review on Glassdoor.

Perfecting your offboarding program

When creating an offboarding program that will benefit both parties remember the following key points to stay on track.

  • Ensure there are enough opportunities for less-experienced staff members to observe the leaving employee at work.

  • Encourage these staff members to record everything they learn or make logs of the useful information passed on to them.

  • Make it clear at the interview stage that should a new employee decide to leave, the company would like them to help train their replacement.

  • Ask employees to record their processes from day one. This makes training a replacement so much easier for them should they decide to leave.

  • Make sure that every detail of the offboarding process is clearly defined, recorded on file, and is available for the employee’s perusal at any time.

  • Follow all legal procedures and guidelines with respect to employee departure such as non-disclosure agreements and tax documents.

  • Demonstrate your respect for the departing employee by avoiding a ‘don’t slam the door on your way out attitude.’

  • Be nice.

Following these basic principles (especially the last one) creates an extremely positive experience for everyone involved and ensures that there is no ill-feeling on the employee or management’s part.

Retaining your departing employee’s talent and experience through the passing on of knowledge is an important component of the offboarding process. But making them your brand ambassador will likely have a longer lasting and more valuable effect on your company. In an ideal world, we want former employees to brag about having worked with your brand creating a positive image not only of the company but also of its work culture.

If you’d like to know more about employer branding, take a look at our post on employee retention. If you find yourself at the other end of the employment cycle then check out how vsource can help you and your company find the best talent.

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