When an employee leaves the organization due to resignation, termination or retirement, there are various activities that the HR department should thoughtfully perform. In this article, we will dive deep into the offboarding process, why it matters, and the best questions to ask employees during exit interviews.

Offboarding process for departing employees

Do you have a smooth employee offboarding in place? Goodbyes may not be easy, but a well-planned offboarding process can ideally make it streamlined. Knowing the process and what steps to implement can help you introduce an appropriate offboarding process. Using human resources (HR) software could assist HRs in keeping a tab on the company’s assets assigned to employees who are about to leave and organizing exit interviews.

According to one of the studies by Capterra, 86% of HRs say at least one employee missed their exit interview and 71% say at least one employee did not give back company-owned assets, such as smartphones or laptops. Keeping this in mind, an organization should potentially have a smooth offboarding process to give employees a stress-free exit and minimize the impact of departure on the business.

Let’s first learn more about the offboarding process.

What is offboarding?

Offboarding can be defined as the process that typically entails all the steps required to depart employees from an organization following their termination or resignation. 

This process usually encompasses:

  • Preparing all the paperwork required at the end of an employee’s tenure
  • Transferring employees’ responsibilities and knowledge
  • Deactivating employee’s accounts and access rights
  • Organizing exit interviews

4 reasons why the offboarding process is necessary

Let’s look at some of the reasons why employee offboarding is necessary.

Can help maintain a good relationship with former employees

People usually leave an organization for a number of reasons. Some quit due to a lack of growth opportunities, while others resign because of better financial growth. 

It may not always be true that people leave a company because they have some issues with the work culture or environment. In this context, providing such workers with a smooth offboarding experience could help businesses leave a positive impression on them and maintain a good relationship with departed employees.

You can even approach your former employees after a certain period whenever you have some new opening, provided that they had a streamlined offboarding experience, of course.

Could help build the reputation

When an employee decides to leave the organization, you should ensure that their overall experience goes well. They might recommend friends or family to join your company if their work environment is positive and flexible. 

By offering them a hassle-free offboarding process, you are probably giving them a chance to say good words to people about how their journey ended with your organization.

Can aid in transferring knowledge

Knowledge transfer could potentially play a vital role in any case, especially when an employee with multiple skills and valuable knowledge is about to leave the organization.

If you don’t make knowledge transfer a part of the offboarding process, there are chances that the valuable knowledge can also leave the company as soon as the employee does.

A well-planned offboarding may allow companies to keep and transfer this knowledge to other employees.

Can help ensure security

Employees preparing to leave the company may have to sign certain documents to hand over access and return company-owned equipment. 

Not executing an offboarding process may result in many consequences. For example, ex-employees might have access to the corporate network, which can affect the cybersecurity of your data. 

Keeping this in mind, proper offboarding may allow organizations to ensure that their confidential information stays secure.

Employee offboarding checklist: how to offboard an employee

An offboarding process checklist typically includes all the essential tasks that should ideally be done when an employee leaves the organization.

1. Thank your departing employees

When an employee tenders their resignation, the first and foremost thing to do should be to thank them for contributing to your company. 

You can start by responding to their resignation email or letter with a thank you note for their work and time spent in your organization. 

A courteous departure can protect organizations from legal threats or retaliations while also helping maintain a lasting relationship with departing employees.

2. Communicate about the departure quickly

While you may hold off on communicating about the departing employee until you have all the details, it is usually better to share the information immediately. 

The more you wait, the more likely your workmates can begin to clue in the details themselves, leading to the spread of fake or unwanted information. To avoid such situations, you should potentially tell managers to inform their team members, the department and HR of an employee exit about the employee’s resignation. 

Give the reason for the employee’s departure to co-workers wherever required.

3. Set up the paperwork

Preparing the paperwork is usually a crucial part of the offboarding process. In order to successfully complete the process, you should ideally prepare and review the following documentation:

  • Letter of termination or resignation
  • Non-disclosure agreement
  • Outstanding reimbursements
  • Tax documents
  • Benefits documentation explaining retirement plan transfer, unemployment insurance, or ongoing benefits

HRs should potentially review all the above documents to ensure no terms and conditions affect their organization and the departing employee. For example, an officially signed termination letter prevents an employer if dissatisfied employees from claiming they did not know when and why they were let go.

Tips for HRs

When an employee leaves the company, you can allow them to sign the full and final documents digitally using digital signature software to make it easier for them to get the documents from anywhere. Once the documents are signed, the software can automatically notify you so that you can take further actions and roll out the payroll timely.

Companies should also complete the required tax forms so that the employee has all the necessary tax documents before they join the new job.

4. Initiate the project handover

Skilled employees usually take their knowledge and skills with them when they leave. If you don’t bother about preserving that knowledge, you may not be able to expect the next hire to work out their role on their own. 

As soon you get the notice from an employee about leaving the organization, you should ideally initiate the knowledge transfer process. 

Here are some questions you may ask departing employees before initiating the knowledge transfer process:

  • Is there any project you are currently leading?  If yes, what do you do on that project weekly, quarterly, monthly or annually?
  • Can you break down your daily tasks into step-by-step instructions?
  • Are there any files or software that your replacement requires training on? 
  • Who are your daily contacts, outside and inside the organization, so we can inform them of this transition? 

You may use knowledge management software to log workers’ knowledge about specific projects in a set of documents that can be shared with all the employees throughout the organization.

5. Collect company assets 

Once your employee’s tenure is about to end, make sure to collect all the gadgets and equipment loaned to them during their onboarding. Such assets typically include laptops or smartphones, access cards, bags, headphones, ID badges or computer accessories. 

You should consider keeping a tab on access rights to software and network services along with physical assets. 

Using an IT asset management tool, you can also track an inventory of the company’s properties and assets, giving you a clear picture of what has been loaned to which employee.

6. Conduct the exit interview

Exit interviews can help you provide valuable insights into your organization’s flaws and areas for improvement. It can be basically the opposite of an initial job interview when people are onboarded to the firm. 

Conducting exit interviews could be an effective way to depart employees on good terms. 

Some questions employers may ask employees during the exit interview

When doing exit interviews, assure your employees that you will keep their responses confidential and address issues they will bring to your attention.

7. Give your employees an offboarding checklist

The way you need a checklist to execute the offboarding process successfully, you should also ideally provide your employees with a checklist that entails everything they need to do before leaving. This checklist may include mobile phones, IT hardware, ID cards, company credit cards and parking permits.

8. Organize a farewell party

Organizing a farewell party for a departing employee can allow everyone to say goodbye and showcase that you appreciate their contribution to your firm. It can be as simple as getting refreshments at work, gathering for coffee or going out for a team outing.

Key takeaways

Executing a well-documented offboarding plan can enable HR teams to handle the exit experience confidently. While you may implement all of the above-mentioned steps based on your needs and company policies, this list can help you navigate tasks involved in employee offboarding. 

Monitoring and investing in an offboarding process can result in a continuous improvement of your organization’s processes.

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