How to handle employee offboarding like a pro and keep productivity high
In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about handling employee offboarding - from best practices to guarantee people leave on a positive note to the best tools for tackling the planning of staff leaving and joining.
The great resignation: What the increase of employee turnover rates means for offboarding
Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic rocked the world, we've seen a growing trend of people assessing what they want for their personal and professional lives. And, in consequence, a significant increase in turnover rates.
Some of the most common reasons for employees switching jobs include the desire to get better compensation, better benefits, and a better work-life balance.
Many companies understand the importance of onboarding new hires. But do we pay the same attention to offboarding, too? We all hope we can keep the best employees for the long run, but the reality is that people depart in search of new opportunities, so you should be ready to let them do so in a way that reduces impact on your business.
If you don’t do enough to get all the information out of your leavers before they go, you probably won’t have the best tools to make the next person joining as productive as they can be.
So, what exactly is offboarding, and why does it matter?
As you might guess by its name, offboarding is the opposite of onboarding; or the process by which organizations close someone’s employment. There are many circumstances that can lead to someone departing, but one thing is sure: You should always make sure you let people go in a tactful and efficient manner that leaves you ready to hire new employees or redesign your structure.
The process will differ slightly if the person is resigning, returning, or being terminated, but in all cases, you should see it as an opportunity to help your company improve and grow. Offboarding is not about convincing someone to stay longer but doing everything you can to ensure the transition is smooth and friendly. This includes, of course, protecting your company so you can still keep up with any outstanding deadlines and make sure you:
- Ensure proper handoff of sensitive information and data.
- Revoke employee access.
- Collect all company equipment.
- Mitigate legal threats by ensuring contracts are closed.
- Offboard managers and your HR departments.
Employee offboarding best practices
Employee offboarding can feel a little awkward or uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some good practices to help let you handle this process more gracefully.
Treat the leaving employee with kindness and fairness.
Whatever the reason for someone exiting your company is, you should always thank them for their work and effort. This will not just promote a more positive, lasting relationship with the person but also protect you from potential legal threats or data breaches. And in some cases, you might even gain a brand ambassador!
Communicate the departure to others.
There are several groups that should be made aware of someone leaving the company. The soon you tell them, the better. Make sure you let your IT, recruiting, finance, and leadership know when someone resigns. They will most likely need to respond to this event (for example, by revoking IT access, processing final paychecks, or finding a replacement). Don’t forget to also explain to other team members why the person is leaving - the longer you wait, the more uncomfortable things can get. No matter if the departure was voluntary or involuntary, it’s always a good idea to publicly congratulate the employee for their time and service.
Explain to the employee what’s expected of them.
The person leaving your organization should know what will be expected of them as they complete their offboarding process. Oftentimes, you can use a checklist to ensure you cover all the required steps, such as doing an exit interview, returning company-owned equipment, signing non-compete agreements, reimbursing expenses, or managing benefits and payments beyond termination.
Revoke access and secure property.
We covered this one briefly above, but it’s an important one, so here it goes again: Make sure your offboarding process includes securing company assets, ensuring compliance with your organization’s protocols, and revoking access to your online and offline systems. This can consist of emails, CRM systems, internal platforms, sales databases, and social media accounts. If the departure is cordial, make sure you give the person a grace period or warning so they can remove personal information or update their contacts first.
Hold an interview to collect insights.
The exit interview is an essential component of the offboarding process, so you should never skip it. No matter the reason for their departure, you will want to ask the person leaving what their experience at the company was like. The interview is an excellent opportunity to gather data and insights on what you’re doing well or what you could improve on. For example, you can ask the leaving employee to share their view on company culture, workload, and management. Assure them you will take their feedback seriously. If you feel they might not want to express some of these verbally, you can also ask them to capture them in a survey.
Generate Good Faith and stay in touch.
A seamless off boarding process can help your employer’s brand, which is an important component for any business. You will want to wrap up the employee’s experience to leave a final, positive mark on your organization. If someone leaves on amicable terms, you should also consider staying in touch with the person by reaching out occasionally via email, meeting up for a coffee, or inviting the person to company events.
Ensure a successful transfer of knowledge.
Whether you’re planning on hiring a new employee immediately or you want to take some time to review and possibly restructure your company, you will want to make sure the knowledge the departing person has remains within your organization. The specifics will vary depending on the job, but you must always ensure you understand the person’s daily routine, responsibilities, and how they accomplish their tasks. So, how do you do this? Let’s take a closer look at the section below.
Using employee offboarding checklists and diagrams
One of the best things you can do to help everyone in your organization understand and follow the key steps of employee onboarding is to work a checklist or strategy guide.
Think of it this way: When someone leaves (especially if they have been in your company for a long time), they might need to transfer an entire career’s worth of knowledge. These transitions can lead to lengthy onboarding processes, inefficient work, and misunderstood responsibilities that can have a severe impact on your business.
This is why it’s essential to ensure all your teams, roles, responsibilities, processes, documents, stakeholders, events, and milestones (among others) are included in the transition planning. The purpose of creating a checklist that encompasses all these elements is to facilitate the transfer of knowledge - and it’s not about quantity because scrolling through pages of text is not a natural or efficient way to manage a handover.
Using transition plans and hiagrams to manage employee offboarding
An excellent way to plan and execute employee offboarding and transition is to capture all relevant information and convert it into interactive visuals. imprend specializes in handover and transition plans using something called hiagrams, which are dynamic diagrams that include how each team, project, role, activity, and process connects to the others to form a job.
Here is how imprend’s hiagrams can help you achieve effective and seamless employee offboarding and onboarding:
- First, imprend identifies all teams, roles, projects, activities, and processes through an interview. People are asked various questions from different angles to ensure all rich details are captured.
- The leaver then adds any deliverables, documents, events, stakeholders, milestones, assets, event hints, and training. And for processes, all they need to do is to write names titles and descriptions; the tool takes care of generating a process view live.
- Lastly, all captured information is converted into a hierarchical diagram, or hiagram, that shows how teams, roles, projects, activities, and processes form a job.
That’s it! Instead of having to ask your leaving employees to write down pages and pages of text, you can let imprend gather and organize all information. Then, the new hire will be able to easily view them at the node or hiagram level, order items like milestones and events by time, and easily search for the data they require.
You can start using imprend for free. Your first five employee handovers are on us!