Employee Offboarding: Why It's Just as Important as Onboarding

“Adios, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” Is this the sentiment your employees feel when they leave your organization? If there’s no offboarding process in place, your exiting employees are likely to walk out the door feeling like their contribution to the organization didn’t matter.

Many organizations invest more in onboarding employees than they do in offboarding employees. According to Aberdeen Strategy & Research, 71% of organizations don’t have a formal offboarding program. That’s a shame because offboarding offers as much value as onboarding.

What is Employee Offboarding?

Offboarding is the procedure followed when employees are ending their tenure with an organization through resignation, reduction, termination or retirement.

Employee offboarding is an intentional process that starts the moment the employee's departure is confirmed. It's easy to diminish offboarding to a perfunctory formality. But remember, you’re parting ways with a human being, not a personnel number, so make it engaging and meaningful.

An employee offboarding checklist should involve the following steps:

  1. Inform co-workers that the employee is leaving.
  2. Start the recruitment process to replace the employee.  
  3. Put a handover process in place to ensure a smooth transfer of duties to the new employee.
  4. Finalize HR and legal compliance procedures, such as arranging the employee’s 401K withdrawal and preparing their final pay or severance package.
  5. Discuss matters pertaining to confidentiality and the signing of non-disclosure or non-compete agreements if required.
  6. Collect company property, such as security clearances, access keys, equipment,  laptops and other devices.
  7. Revoke access to passwords and systems and deactivate email and other communication accounts.
  8. Conduct an exit interview.
  9. Invite the employee to become an alumnus of the organization.

Why Employee Offboarding Matters

Employee offboarding has significant benefits for both parties. An offboarding policy aims to ensure that the relationship ends on good terms. In addition, employers can gain valuable insights from departing employees.

Here’s why employee offboarding should be given the same gravity as employee onboarding.

Why Offboarding Matters to Employees

Just as first impressions shape an employee's journey with your organization, last impressions will linger long after they leave.

One crucial step in offboarding an employee is the exit interview. Exit interviews should be a safe space for employees to share the experiences of their journey with the organization. It may be the first time they raise issues they felt uncomfortable raising during their employment.

Taking their feedback seriously and committing to addressing grievances raised can shift their attitude away from any resentment or anger they may have harbored. If they leave on a good note, they will likely speak favorably about your organization to others. This can boost your reputation as a public sector employer that candidates will want to work for.

Why Offboarding Matters to Public Sector Organizations

An offboarding process can mitigate legal risks. Let’s say an exiting employee experienced harassment but never spoke up about it. Should they mention it in their exit interview, you have a chance to empathize with the employee and commit to addressing the problem. This could reduce or eliminate the risk of bad publicity, or worse, a lawsuit against the organization.

If they don’t have an opportunity to share concerns before they leave, they could leave negative reviews on job portals or social media. This could hurt your recruitment efforts.

HR statistics show that job applicants are heavily influenced by reviews.

  • 86% of Glassdoor users read company reviews and ratings before deciding to apply for a job.
  • 55% of job seekers who read a negative review decide not to apply for a job at that company.

Offboarding is an opportunity to learn where the shortcomings in your workplace culture and leadership lie. It can lead to positive organizational changes that make current employees want to stay. According to the Aberdeen research, organizations with an offboarding program have higher employee retention and engagement rates than those without one.

What Public Sector Organizations Need to Know About Offboarding

In 2022, the median number of tenure years for public sector employees was 6.8 years. That’s nearly seven years devoted to public service. When the relationship comes to an end, acknowledge the employee's service and manage their exit in a respectful way, even if they were fired.

A successful offboarding process can encourage employees to stay involved with the organization. They may mentor current workers, become future board members or boomerang employees. Boomerang employees are former employees who return to work from your organization. A survey by the Workforce Institute found that 85% of HR professionals received applications from former employees.

Consider launching an alumni group on social media that ex-employees can join. By keeping updated on the organization’s news and job ads, they may be interested in rejoining your organization one day.

How to Manage the Offboarding of Remote Employees

With remote employees, you may have to adapt your offboarding strategy. The distance can make it difficult to engage face-to-face with outgoing workers. Don’t let this dilute the process. Make it just as engaging and valuable so that exiting remote employees do not feel their departure went unnoticed.

Try to follow the same offboarding process for remote employees as those working in the office. If the employee has to return assets, schedule a face-to-face exit interview on the same day. If they live in a different part of the country, then a video interview will have to do.

Key Takeaway

When employees leave your organization, their role as a worker ends, but it can signal the start of a new relationship where they choose to remain connected to the organization. The offboarding process can help you transition into this phase. Some former employees may even circle back one day, happy to rejoin the organization.

No items found.

About CPS HR Consulting

CPS HR Consulting is a self-supporting public agency providing a full range of integrated HR solutions to government and nonprofit clients across the country.  Our strategic approach to increasing the effectiveness of human resources results in improved organizational performance for our clients.  We have a deep expertise and unmatched perspective in guiding our clients in the areas of organizational strategy, recruitment and selection, classification and compensation, and training and development.