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Offboarding Best Practices: Tips for HR

5 minute read

Offboarding refers to the process of handling exiting employees. Employee exit management, or offboarding, is a critical part of the employment lifecycle. Unfortunately, instead of following offboarding best practices, HR professionals often slide it down their list of priorities.

This is a huge mistake.

Namely, while HR professionals are more than happy to go out of their way to provide attractive onboarding incentives, when the time comes for the employee to leave, it’s usually a whole different story. But this shouldn’t be the case.

Employee Exit and Offboarding Checklist

Having a formal offboarding process is just as important as an onboarding process - or even more so. Not only does it mitigate various legal threats, but employee offboarding also helps companies retain talent, attract new talent, and inspire greater engagement.

This is why we’ve concocted a list of some offboarding best practices to help HR professionals better manage departing employees.

Make Employee Offboarding a Positive Experience

Despite the reasons for the termination of employment, offboarding should be a positive experience. Therefore, you should put in the same amount of effort as you would during onboarding. Organize a farewell party for the employee, acknowledge their contributions, and talk positively about their time in the company.

offboarding best practices

Whatever you do, don’t burn bridges by mistreating exiting employees. You never know who exiting employees may speak with and what they might say about your organization.

Did you know employee referrals reduce the time and cost to hire? In fact, referred candidates are 55% faster to hire that those sourced through career sites.

Or perhaps, exiting employees might join your company again in the future. This is called the employee boomerang effect. You never know. This is why it’s important to treat departing employees with respect throughout the employee offboarding process. Employees who go through graceful offboarding might be the key to improving existing employee retention rates and company reputation.

Gather Insight from Exiting Employees

There’s a lot you can learn about your company’s procedures after going through a formal offboarding process. This is particularly true if the termination of employment was initiated by the outgoing employee. Maybe there’s a problem within the company that you may not know exists. Therefore, it’s vital that you understand the steps leading to this decision.

Understanding exactly what led to the termination of employment will help you revise your current strategies and make adjustments that will lead to better employee retention. With a formal offboarding process, retrieving valuable insight from exiting employees is much easier. A simple termination of employment survey and exit interview will suffice in reaching valid conclusions about employee attrition.

Exit interviews and termination of employment surveys are extremely useful in the overall employee offboarding process to gain valuable insight, such as:

  • Identifying problem areas
  • Increasing employee retention rates
  • Establishing reasons for termination of employment
  • Improving work culture
  • Identifying development opportunities
  • Ensuring compliance
  • Managing turnover costs

This further demonstrates the importance of formal offboarding processes in managing employee departures and HR strategies.

Establish IT Security and Compliance Policy

Offboarding best practices extend to ensuring classified information does not leave the company and all security protocols are in check. An inapt offboarding strategy can pose a heavy security risk to the organization, particularly where sensitive information is concerned. Just imagine what could happen if a former employee leaks sensitive information. It will wreak havoc.

offboarding best practices

Can you really trust the exiting employee to not misuse their position and credentials after they leave? Even if trust levels are high, it’s better to be safe than sorry. This is why you should establish an IT security and compliance policy in your formal offboarding process. Here are the essential steps to establishing security and compliance during employee offboarding:

  • Maintain distribution list for employee turnover. Inform major departments within your organization about any employee turnovers happening. This way, department managers can plan ahead about how to deal with departing employees and ensure compliance.
  • Disable logins to exiting employees’ accounts. Close all accounts associated with exiting employees both on-premises and in the cloud. This is an important part of ensuring security and compliance during the employee offboarding process.
  • Forward emails and phone calls. Direct emails and calls to other appropriate team members until the account can be deleted. Generally, organizations should wait a set amount of time before permanently terminating accounts. This is because a particular exiting employee may have been the contact person for important clients or partners.
  • Review exiting employees’ contacts. Check to see if the exiting employee is listed as the primary contact for a project or account. Termination of employment should not mean termination of a project. So make sure to reassign all projects accordingly.

Offboarding checklists make it easier for HR management to track IT security and compliance during employee turnovers. Specifically, offboarding checklists ensure offboarding processes are foolproof and error-free. This brings us to the next point in our list of offboarding best practices.

Create an Offboarding Checklist

Creating an offboarding checklist will make your employee offboarding process flow more smoothly. Here’s what you should include in your offboarding checklist to secure a seamless transition during employee turnovers:

  • Communicate changes efficiently. Notify relevant departments (HR, Accounting, and IT) about the departure. If necessary, inform them about the reason for the employee’s exit.
  • Fill in the paperwork. Get exiting employees to sign any pertinent documentation regarding their termination of employment.
  • Start knowledge transfer. Find a suitable replacement to take over the duties of the exiting employee. Prepare files, documents, and lists of information for transfer, and outline due dates for submitting final tasks.
  • Conduct exit interview. Ask the departing employee for honest feedback about their time working in your company. Share key findings with department leaders and duly follow up with any complaints that may trigger future employee turnovers.
  • Recover company assets. Request that all company owned equipment and assets be returned. Get departing employees to hand in things like laptops, phones, uniforms, keys and security cards.
  • Tie up loose ends. Double-check to see if the offboarding process is running smoothly. Remove exiting employee from upcoming meetings, speak with other employees, and clean out their desk area.

Offboarding Best Practices: The Takeaways

At the end of the day, saying goodbye to an employee is never easy. Whether the employee is voluntarily handing in their resignation or if they’re facing an involuntary termination of employment, exiting employees deserve a graceful offboarding. And it’s up to HR professionals to provide such terms by following offboarding best practices.

Applying these offboarding best practices is a good way to revamp your employee turnover strategy and increase employee retention rates. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Create a formal offboarding process, share it with departing employees, and work your way down your offboarding checklist.

Employee Exit and Offboarding Checklist

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