How to offboard an employee the right way

We all know that in the modern world people move from job to job. While older generations had ‘jobs for life’ and often worked in the same company from leaving school to retiring, typically today people between the ages of 25 and 35 change jobs every 3-5 years.

An efficient and effective offboarding process is therefore an important HR consideration. Whatever sector your company is in, people leaving will be an inevitability. Here’s how to offboard in the right way.

Create an offboarding checklist

There’s never a ‘right time’ for an employee to quit, but even in a relatively quiet period the additional workload created for managers and co-workers by an employee leaving means staying organised is crucial. A really effective tool for this is to create an offboarding checklist.

Include all the important administrative tasks to tick off, including those that can often be overlooked — such as ensuring the employee returns their work laptop and phone.

From a security perspective, make sure that on their last day they hand in their office keys and passes, and don’t forget to change door entry codes. Cybersecurity is of course vitally important, so make sure all passwords are changed for your website, intranet, social media channels and IT applications.

Conduct an exit interview

Your instincts might question the point of interviewing someone you’ve worked with for years now they’re leaving. But offboarding interviews are one of the best ways to understand what your organisation does right and, more importantly, what you should be doing better.

We’ve got a blog here dedicated to conducting exit interviews, which has lots more information on the subject.

Announce the departure

If you’ve ever worked for a very large organisation you’ll know that departure announcements can make up a steady flow of your daily email intake, but it’s important to make these announcements.

Send a general all-round email announcing a person’s final date, which thanks them for their service. You should send more in-depth emails to people most impacted by the departure e.g. teammates, managers, customers and clients. Where applicable, information about who will be replacing the person and who to contact in the meantime should be included.

Let them show off their expertise

If an employee has been in the role for a year or more, the chances are that you’ll struggle to find a replacement who can do the job as effectively as them from the start. Therefore, give the leaving party the chance to pass on their experience.

Don’t simply ask them to spend an hour typing up a hasty handover document on their last day. Over their notice period, allow the leaving employee ample time to meet with co-workers, juniors and other relevant individuals so that they can garner a thorough understanding of their work duties and the best way to do them. The more time you give staff to prepare for a handover, the easier the actual handover will be.

Give them a good send-off

Finally, give the employee a good farewell and wish them luck in their future endeavours. This is important for two reasons. Firstly as common courtesy, and secondly for reputation management. An earnest thank you to a disgruntled employee could be the thing that stops them from being critical on websites such as GlassDoor. Conversely an employee moving for pastures new could talk negatively about the company if they feel marginalised in their last weeks with you.

As a general rule, any gifts you give should be relative to the amount of time an employee has served, rather than their seniority. So a low-ranking employee who has worked for you for 10 years should get a more extravagant thank you present than a board member who only lasted two years.

If you’re holding a leaving event for the leaver, tailor it to something that they will enjoy. For example, someone who doesn’t drink alcohol or has busy family commitments is unlikely to appreciate feeling obligated to stay out late on their last day for evening cocktails!

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