Why Employee Offboarding is Just as Crucial as Onboarding

This post was updated in May, 2019

Lately we’ve posted a lot about the importance of employee onboarding. If you’re unfamiliar with what onboarding is, you can learn a bit more about it here. It goes without saying that onboarding is an important task that should not be left to chance, but what about employee offboarding? We spend so much time planning a new employee’s arrival, yet disregard the same care when it comes to their departure. If you’re not offboarding your employees, you are missing out on a chance to gain valuable insight on your business. 

When an employee chooses to voluntarily leave your organization there are a few things you, as a manager, should do immediately:

  • Communicate the decision with managers so they can inform their teams.

  • Be transparent about the reason behind the separation.

  • Document their job knowledge.

  • Start preparing the paperwork.

  • Set up an exit interview.

Often times when an employee gives notice there is an effort on the manager's part to keep that private. This in turn leads to rumors of the departure and can have a negative impact on your company’s morale. Even if you don’t have all the answers, such as an end date, who will take over that person’s responsibilities, and so forth, you will want to communicate the departure before rumors spread. If the employee told you they are resigning because they received a better offer elsewhere, it is ok to communicate that. Not all of your employees will find what they are looking for within your organization, and that’s ok. 

If you plan to disperse the departing employee’s work among the team, be sure to have them sit with their colleagues and show them the details of their work. If you plan to hire someone in to replace this person, have them document the details of their work instead. This will serve as a great starting point for someone walking in

One thing that tends to go overlooked is the paperwork involved when an employee leaves. Documents such as retirement plan transfer, nondisclosure agreements, W-2s, and so on need to be addressed before an employee leaves. If not, you’ll find yourself sending these documents at a later date, so it is best to address them beforehand. Also, for legal purposes you may want to consider having the employee sign a letter of resignation. Having a letter stating they left voluntarily will protect you later on if they try to claim they were wrongfully terminated. 

An exit interview is a great way to gain a complete picture of why the employee is leaving. Are there things you need to work on as a manager? Was it simply a move up in the corporate ladder? Were they unhappy with the overall direction the company was heading? Usually when an employee is leaving a company they are much more likely to be candid about their experiences while working for your organization. Be sure to have set questions when walking into the exit interview. Things like “Did this position meet your initial expectations?” or “Would you recommend us to a friend or family member?” are great things to ask. 

It is very important to tie up loose ends when an employee leaves; the above points will help you do just that. Of course this isn’t a complete list, but it is a good place to start moving forward once someone puts in notice of leaving. 

For more ways to improve your company’s HR practices subscribe to our monthly blog updates.