Goodbye... Managing Employee Offboarding

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Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

Goodbye... Managing Employee Offboarding

Organizations spend a lot of time, effort and money on onboarding new employees. Just think of creating an attractive corporate reputation and image, employer branding, pre-employment screening and recruitment, and employee induction, orientation and onboarding (in a narrow sense) among other things.

What is offboarding? Definition

Employee offboarding describes the opposite process of onboarding, dealing with employees leaving the company. Offboarding might involve various sub-processes, like a phased transfer of knowledge from the departing employee to a new or existing employee; an exit interview; return of any company property; various HR, IT and legal processes and in many cases also a ceremony and / or party.

According to research explained by Wade, "HR leaders spend 8x more time creating, implementing, and administering onboarding programs compared to offboarding programs. While onboarding programs are essential to an employee's ramp time and continued success at the company, offboarding is an area that should not be overlooked. Organizations with formal offboarding programs reported higher retention rates and greater percentages of 'highly engaged' employees."

Importance of formal offboarding programs

Wade provides 5 main reasons why formal offboarding programs are important:
  1. Ensure the departing employee's knowledge is transferred to other members of the organization.
  2. Understand organizational strengths and weaknesses, and determine how they can be improved.
  3. Identify turnover issues early to implement corrective measures when possible.
  4. Gauge former employee brand perception and the impact that their views may have on the market.
  5. Leave the door open for "boomerang" employees who may wish to return to your company in the future.

Recommendations for offboarding programs

Recently, Professors Dachner and Makarius argue similarly that - depending on a company's strategy, culture, and industry - it might make sense to spend more attention, effort and money on offboarding employees when they resign and decide to leave the company in good standing. More specifically, they recommend organizations in today's fierce battle for top talent to:
  • Go beyond legal obligations.
  • Recognize individual differences between employees.
  • Prepare well before employees actually resign (nothing lasts forever).
  • Recognize the contributions the employee made at the time he/she leaves.
  • Always conduct a professional exit interview.
  • Provide support for a successful start in the new job.
  • Carefully design a holistic program to keep alumni connected to the organization.
⇨ Is your firm very professional in offboarding? What are your practical observations and experiences with resignations of employees?
Sources:
Wade E. (2019), "Driving Team Performance: Why Offboarding is Just as Important as Onboarding", SBI Research
Dachner A.M., Makarius E.E., "Turn Departing Employees into Loyal Alumni: A holistic approach to offboarding", HBR Mar-Apr 2021, pp. 88-97

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