With the cooling-off period after the great resignation phenomenon, some HR specialists are outright tired of saying goodbye to the employees exiting the company. Still, it’s important to understand that an offboarding, if done right, can be a great opportunity to showcase company values, receive some extremely valuable feedback and add to the employer image of your business. What is offboarding, why it pays to do it well & how to hack it?
While the process often varies among companies, offboarding is a set of actions that accompany the formal end to an employer’s journey with your company. If you think that the offboarding process is only concerned with an employee signing the paperwork and returning any company equipment, you should know that these steps are only the tip of the iceberg. You can do more, and you should do more.
Why complicate the often-times already complicated process of employee departure?
> A nice goodbye can turn your departing employees into loyal alumni. This keep-in-touch attitude means not only knowledge-sharing opportunities, but your alumni becoming your company’s ambassadors, customers or even suppliers.
> If you do it well, sooner or later you can expect some boomerang employees. Actually, studies reveal that boomerang employees tend to demonstrate a higher level of commitment to a company. 40 percent of employees say they would consider coming back to a company where they had worked before, and, importantly, boomerang employees usually come back with more expertise and know-how that can help to reach your goals faster.
>A well-managed and creative offboarding can add to your employer image – not only through the public reviews and word of mouth by those exiting the company but also the current employees who can see how much care, empathy and respect you are demonstrating with the leavers.
And what if the breakup was not that nice?
Despite the risks, a whopping 71% of organizations have no formal offboarding process. How can it affect your company?
> Online reviews
We know it’s rare, but some ex-employees can really go out of their way to leave negative feedback on online review platforms or social media. A study found that more than 50 percent of job seekers checked these reviews before applying for a job, so needless to say, this is an important part of your employer brand.
> Word of mouth
Everyone loves a good quitting story, but we can all agree we can exaggerate some bits for the drama. The thing is – word travels fast and you don’t want to be remembered as a toxic place to work, so ensuring a pleasant goodbye should be something to strive for every time.
> Intentional harm
We don’t want to believe it, but there are people out there who can do harmful things to the ex-employer if the company doesn’t set some security measures in place. Leaking important data, stealing intellectual property and similar harmful actions can be a real hit to the reputation of your company. 1 out of 5 companies have experienced data breaches by ex-employees – it isn’t that surprising, because 1 in 4 departed employees still have access to information and accounts from their ex-workplaces.
What to consider?
To ensure you protect the reputation, intellectual property, and remaining employees, think about these beyond-paperwork processes:
Notifying other teams
Keeping teams informed about employee departures demonstrates transparency within the organization. It fosters a culture of open communication and trust, where employees feel valued and included in important organizational updates.
Notifying other teams when an employee is leaving the company is an important step in ensuring a smooth transition. When an employee departs, they take with them their unique skills, knowledge, and expertise. Notifying other teams in advance allows for knowledge transfer to take place before the employee leaves. This enables the redistribution of critical information, documents, and processes, ensuring that essential knowledge is not lost and that others can seamlessly continue the work.
Additionally, knowing that an employee is leaving allows teams and managers to assess their resource needs and plan accordingly. It provides an opportunity to evaluate workload distribution, identify any skill gaps that need to be addressed through hiring or training, and ensure that the team can continue to meet its objectives without overburdening other members.
Exit interviews play a vital role in the employee offboarding process, providing valuable insights and feedback that can contribute to organizational improvement. This feedback can help identify patterns, address systemic issues, and make necessary changes to enhance employee satisfaction and engagement.
Exit interviews help uncover the reasons why employees choose to leave the company – these underlying factors behind employee departures can help identify trends, such as issues with leadership, work-life balance, career growth, or compensation.
Moreover, by conducting exit interviews, organizations demonstrate that they value their employees’ opinions and experiences. This can help departing employees feel heard and appreciated, even in their final days with the company. Here are some questions to include in your exit interview:
> Did you have enough resources and support you needed to perform your work successfully
> Did the job match your expectations?
> Is there anything we could have done to change your mind about moving on from the company?
> Would you consider returning to this company?
It’s not only about returning the work laptop and phone – think about your intellectual property and sensitive information. Ensuring the security of intellectual information when employees exit the company is crucial to protect sensitive data and prevent unauthorized access.
Regularly review and update access privileges throughout an employee’s tenure. Implement strong access controls, such as unique user accounts, role-based permissions, and multi-factor authentication, to restrict access to sensitive information. When an employee leaves, immediately deactivate their accounts and ensure their access rights are revoked across all systems.
If necessary, you should consider requiring employees to sign confidentiality agreements that outline their responsibility to protect intellectual property and sensitive information. Emphasize the importance of maintaining confidentiality even after leaving the organization.
Of course, don’t overlook physical security measures. Retrieve any physical access cards, keys, or other physical assets that grant entry to company premises. Change relevant codes or passwords for security systems to prevent unauthorized entry.
An alumni network helps maintain connections, fosters a sense of community, and provides ongoing opportunities for engagement and collaboration.
Former employees can serve as a valuable talent pool for future hiring needs. They are already familiar with the organization’s culture and can potentially bring new skills and experiences gained elsewhere. Engaging with alumni can help tap into this talent pool and facilitate rehiring or referrals. This can be facilitated through online forums, networking events, webinars, or mentoring programs.
Maintain an up-to-date database of alumni contact information. This can include email addresses, LinkedIn profiles, and any other relevant details. You should regularly communicate with alumni through newsletters, email updates, or social media announcements. Share relevant news, organizational updates, professional development opportunities, and exclusive benefits or events.
41% of former employees report wanting opportunities to network. Networking events specifically for alumni, both in-person and virtual are also a good idea. These events can provide opportunities for former employees to reconnect, share experiences, and build professional relationships.
It all comes down to values
Whatever you decide to do as a part of your offboarding process, remember – your company values should be your Northern Star when it comes to your actions. It’s always a good idea to show care, and empathy, and wish the best to the employee who is moving on.
Don’t let your employee exiting process be just that – when the dust settles, you should use all the important information you gathered to improve your organisational culture, existing employee experience, data security etc.