What is offboarding?

Offboarding is the process of disengaging an employee from their position within a company, a practice used both for employees who choose to leave, and for those who are laid off.

While the onboarding process is reminiscent of boarding a plane, helping new hires acclimate to a new job, the offboarding process refers to disembarking, providing employees with a structured framework when leaving a position. 

A good offboarding program should:

  • Minimize disruption within the company
  • Protect confidential company information
  • Gain helpful feedback from the exiting employee
  • Include a gracious goodbye party
  • Provide the departing employee with outplacement services, if necessary

Why should HR leaders care about offboarding?

A well-planned and smooth offboarding program is key to maintaining:

  • Company reputation
  • Data security
  • Positive company culture

Successful offboarding allows the employer and the exiting employee to maintain a relationship of mutual respect during and after the end of the business relationship.

What can HR do to ensure successful offboarding?

HR can create a comprehensive and compassionate offboarding program which includes these components:

  • Update co-workers. HR can email company members as soon as they know an employee will be leaving. This minimizes rumors that could potentially damage the departing employee’s reputation. 
  • Draw up necessary legal documents. A letter of resignation or termination, benefits documents, and a letter of non-disclosure are documents which protect both the employer and employee. It’s best to prepare these ahead of time and store in the company’s applicant tracking system.
  • Transfer of expertise Ensure that the departing employee’s experience and knowledge is organized and ready for the next hire. If the employee was in contact with clients, forward client emails to a coworker.
  • Retrieve company property. Keep an inventory of all items which the departing employee has in possession, to ensure a full recovery of all company property. This includes: laptop, keycard, ID badges, uniform, etc.
  • Communicate with IT. Protect company privacy and classified information by ensuring thatIT deactivates the employee’s computer, internal computer systems, and remove data access.
  • Plan an exit interview. Aim to be sensitive to the employee’s needs and perspective. This is a key opportunity to learn from the departing employee about company flaws which need to be improved upon. 
  • Show gratitude HR can organize a goodbye party and personalized gift to show goodwill, as the employee embarks on their next journey.
  • Recommend outplacement services. Inform the departing employee that the company can help them look for a new job (if necessary), through partnering with an outplacement services agency. This can provide the employee with an advantage when back in the job-market.

How can a smooth offboarding process improve company culture?

A good offboarding process benefits both the departing employee and the remaining employees, allowing the departing employee to leave on good terms, while maintaining company loyalty and employee engagement.

Amicable offboarding also leaves the door open to “boomerang employees“, those who want to return to work for the company at a later point. This shows that the company is so good, it’s worth coming back for.

A comprehensive offboarding process which takes into account the well-being of all employees, those departing and those staying, can lead to a smoother transition period for everyone, building a company culture which embodies a vibrant spirit of well-being.