Effective Offboarding Process: How to Offboard Employees & Still Retain Advocates

By having an effective offboarding process, your greatest employer brand champions can be found in your former employees.

Welcoming new employees to your organisation is quite rightly treated as a priority in the employee life-cycle. Ensuring the period between a job offer being made, day one in the role and the first 30 days of new employees tenure are informative, supportive and aligned with expectations, are essential to ensure newly won talent are satisfied with their decision to begin a new role with you.

Whilst most companies, regardless of sector or size are taking strides to ensure their onboarding process is comprehensive. Few are giving the same focus or attention to their off-boarding processes. Yet it’s this very aspect of the employee life-cycle that offers genuine, untapped potential to strengthen your employer brand, deepen your employability reputation, all whilst creating brand ambassadors and advocates within your prospective talent pool. 

Employees departures come in a variety of forms, from voluntary resignations relating to growth or personal circumstances. To involuntary exits, caused by restructures, redundancies or other employee relations matters. Yet in all instances, the focus, care and attention to ensure the offboarding process is smooth, supportive and designed with the ‘human’ part of HR in mind, is critical to its success. 

By taking several simple steps to evaluate and improve your offboarding process, you can go a long way to aiding employee advocacy no matter the reason for leaving.

Review your current offboarding process

Whilst losing talent from your organisation can come as a blow, it’s an inevitable part of working life and the employee life cycle. The first step in helping ensure your offboarding process is fit to support talent advocacy is to evaluate the process you currently have. By establishing this as a project, you can more effectively gain buy-in & support from your senior stakeholder community. Particularly when they understand the tangible advocacy benefits to be won, both internally and externally by streamlining, refining and ultimately improving what you have in place.  

A few great questions to ask of your current process whilst reviewing are what does your process include today?

Who owns the offboarding process, is it HR or do the business and individual functions do their own thing?

What part do other functions of the business play in offboarding, such as IT and Finance?

And are those players clear on their responsibilities and aligned with the value of offboarding effectively? 

The intention of reviewing your current process end to end is to evaluate its effectiveness and successes. By having a working checklist for your offboarding process, available to all parties who play a part you can easily ensure that no slip-ups are made along the way. Equally, it’s important to remember that subtle differences in reasons for leaving, can differentiate the process you need to follow and the speed with which to do it in.

A senior leaver working their three month notice period will follow a different process to the leaver being exited from the business as a result of employee relations matters or contract breaches. In all cases, being clear on what the overarching process is, how it operates and who owns what and when is a great step forward in achieving offboarding success. 

Analyse leaver feedback

The next step in evaluating how effective your current offboarding process is by analysing feedback from leavers so far. It’s great practice to conduct an exit interview each time an employee leaves. Ideally, you will be using an exit interview template every time an employee leaves, with the findings from previous exits being readily accessible. By using good employee management software, like the tools available via CakeHR, records are easily retrievable with the data being both accurate and straight forward to evaluate with ease. 

It’s a fact, that your former employees offer the greatest insight into why employees are leaving. Whilst analysing, you’re looking for themes, trends or consistencies in ‘exit rationale’. What if any are the commonalities? And how might these themes be affecting your employer brand reputation both internally and on the wider employment market? 

The motivations for individuals to move on will likely have been shared with fellow co-workers

It’s important to remember, that for every exit from your organisation, there will be a ‘leaver ripple effect’. The reasons your employers are choosing to leave, won’t exist in a vacuum. The motivations for individuals to move on will likely have been shared with fellow co-workers, in addition to those in the wider employment market, such as recruitment consultants and staff members at prospective places of employment. 

Any recurring themes serve well as being red-flagged, with an appropriate intervention to improve on those areas. Particularly if you’re seeing high rates of attrition or churn linked to those reasons as a result. 

And by addressing the red-flagged issues, you’re sending a clear message to your current employee base, that you’re an organisation who values employee feedback, which in turn transfers to your being recognised as having a culture of employee excellence. Great things to be known for when it comes to achieving future exiting employee advocacy. 

Manage compliance & close the gaps

A strong compliance process is essential in not only delivering a smooth offboarding experience for your exiting employees but also critical in ensuring protection for your organisation.

During an employees time with you, irrespective of their role and seniority, they will invariably have access to a host of sensitive and proprietary company information. Your internal compliance procedures and join up between departments will help ensure that when an employee does leave, technology access rights are revoked at the right time and final pay & benefits due are correctly calculated on the employee’s behalf. The importance of getting these details right is high. 

There’s no easier way to impact your offboarding reputation, than by removing email or software access too soon or later than the last working day. Even worse in damaging your employer brand reputation is though making errors on what an exiting employee should be paid for their final salary and leaving them short of what they are owed. 

The join-up between HR and payroll needs to be strong, particularly when communicating final holiday calculations which in turn transfer to payment in lieu of holiday not taken during the employment period. The benefits of using a top-rated HR management software solution like CakeHR to support this process are tenfold. By having easy access to real-time reporting on all holidays taken, the calculation on leave allowance is accurate and reliable. Giving you great peace of mind that your leaver’s final payment will be calculated right the first time. 

Make the handover process a priority

When an employee leaves, it’s commonplace for there to be a gap between their departure and a new employee being found to replace their role. This change over can have an inevitable and sizable impact on team productivity and potentially, dependant on the nature of the leavers work, an impact on clients or customer service. 

You’re really seeking to achieve a smooth handover transition, one where the departing employee has effectively documented their current remit, project details, ways of working, locations of knowledge points and how to respond in the event of typical scenarios. 

By ensuring your handover process is handled as a priority, you limit the risks of productivity drops in the remaining team covering the gap. In addition to aiding a smooth knowledge transfer for the new joiner, picking up where your leaver left off. And importantly, by focusing time on aiding a smooth knowledge transfer from your departing employee, you are helping them to feel valued for their time spent working with you. Shining a light on their efforts, expertise and commitment during their time spent working with your organisation. 

Help offboarding become more memorable

Who doesn’t want to feel special, valued or appreciated? It’s part of our human psychology to have a need for recognition. And the employee’s who are leaving your organisation deserves to feel as valued & appreciated on their departure, as they did on their entry. 

The most critical factor in offboarding employee’s & retaining advocates is by making the offboarding process a warm, gratitude infused and memorable one. Whilst remembering that no matter the reason for their departure, during their time with you, the departing employee will have added knowledge, expertise, client and customer value, team morale, ideas, creativity, improvements and ultimately directly or indirectly impacted the bottom line of your business. 

Celebrating their time spent working with with you, their key achievements and the human elements like team socials or whether they’re great or not so great at grabbing the team latte’s will personalise the sentiment of the departure. 

It’s fantastic practice to have a culture where things like celebration leaving lunches are the norm

It’s also important to add to the departing employees, feeling of being valued, by sharing their impending departure as part of your internal communications. If you have a company-wide newsletter, all-hands call or team update, then being open and transparent about the move, is a great way to announce this company change. In tandem, it’s fantastic practice to have a culture where things like celebration leaving lunches, or dinners are the norm. This sort of social activity recognises the fact you are losing a valuable member of your extended work family and also builds morale with the team members remaining with you.

Bringing it all together

The process of offboarding employees can be as smooth and effective as onboarding. By developing strong procedures whilst having a clear workflow in place to join up functions like HR, IT & payroll, in addition to evaluating what works and what doesn’t, can make all the difference to the departing employees leaving experience. 

And by leveraging the benefits of great technology tools and HR systems to automate aspects of leaver processing, huge levels of comfort can be achieved in knowing the factors that can go wrong are being handled at the right time, in the right way.

Whilst working for you, soon to be former employees have been the lifeblood of your organisation and so a memorable offboarding process, will not only help those leavers to feel valued for their contribution. But in doing so, you also bolster their advocacy on behalf of your brand and your company culture long after they have moved on to pastures new. Who knows, your departing employees may one day boomerang back to you. 

Jade.


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Written By

Jade Taryn Graham

Founder of Inspired Talent.co a people & talent strategic consultancy working with tech, finance & startup companies worldwide. Jade is a contributing writer for CakeHR and shares her knowledge on people, process & strategies to improve the world of work.