From holding one final interview to ensuring company assets are safe, here are nine answers to the question, “What are your most effective tips for offboarding an employee?”
- Conduct an Exit Interview
- Remind the Employee of Crucial Contract Clauses
- Don’t Burn Bridges
- Set Up an Information Transition Plan
- Carefully Coordinate With Every Touchpoint
- Provide Detailed Documentation and a Personalized Parting Gift
- Be Compassionate and Professional
- Keep Your Team Informed
- Protect Company Assets
Conduct an Exit Interview
One of the most effective tools in HR’s toolkit while offboarding an employee is the exit interview. Often seen as administrative busywork, by refining and reframing the exit interview, an employer can use it as a tool to learn why employees leave and bring about change in their business and the employee experience.
Most often, when an employee has given their notice, there isn’t much a company can do to retain them. And, companies shouldn’t take it personally. It’s natural for individuals to seek employment elsewhere, and celebrating the person—rather than treating them poorly because you’re offended they dare work somewhere else—you create a more open environment to get useful information from an exit interview.
One of the most useful questions we ask is, “Why did you begin looking for a job?” That is often the answer that gives the best information and helps us better understand why employees leave and what we need to do to better retain employees.
Remind the Employee of Crucial Contract Clauses
A crucial step to take when offboarding an employee is to review their role in the company as well as take a look at their employment contracts so that they can be reminded of their commitment to important points ranging from non-disclosure to submission of company data and devices. In some cases, there may even be a clause that addresses the possibility of poaching or restricts the employee from seeking employment with a direct competitor for a specific time.
Reminding employees of vital contract clauses, some of which may remain effective long after the work stint ends, helps them understand their legal and moral obligations to the company even after they leave.
Don’t Burn Bridges
It can be easy to be upset with an employee when they’re leaving the organization. Maybe they left you mid-project or were a top contributor and their exit caught you off guard. Regardless, make sure not to burn bridges with them during their offboarding.
It’s possible they take a role with a future customer, or they learn the grass isn’t greener somewhere else and they want to come back to work for you. If you are calm and caring, rather than burning bridges, you reduce potential negative circumstances down the road.
Set Up an Information Transition Plan
It is important to remember that a departing team member can potentially take with them their knowledge of information, and this is why it is critical to establish a transition plan to protect a business from losing that resource during the offboarding of an employee.
Expertise, as it is applied to current projects, can be vital, as being without it can greatly hinder another employee’s ability to complete their responsibilities. Setting up a transfer plan that outlines current projects the employee was working on, ensuring customers are re-assigned, and making sure that all documents have been made available to current team members, is necessary for a seamless transition.
By setting up a transition plan, you can ensure your most important information remains in-house and effectively offboard your employee with as little disruption to the business as possible.
Carefully Coordinate With Every Touchpoint
There are often many touchpoints in the offboarding process, and it’s critically important that all of the humans and technology tools involved in the offboarding process seamlessly communicate and work together.
For example, you may want your HR system to automatically remind the manager to meet face-to-face with the exiting employee and provide a suggested script or checklist for the meeting. Your system may need to remind employees that they are eligible to enroll in COBRA benefits for X more days, and you may need to alert IT to all of the role-based systems that need to have access removed.
Failure to keep everyone involved on the same page can result in everything from bad reviews on Glassdoor to leaked proprietary information, lost equipment—you name it!
Provide Detailed Documentation and a Personalized Parting Gift
Offboarding an employee is a crucial aspect of employee management and should not be taken lightly. One tip for effectively off-boarding is to provide detailed documentation outlining the employee’s contributions and next steps within the organization.
A more uncommon way to do this would be to offer a personalized parting gift as part of their exit package. This could mean anything from awarding certificates, offering thoughtful thank-you gifts, or extending professional networking connections—all of which are tangible reminders that their time within your organization was valued and appreciated.
Be Compassionate and Professional
Remember that the employee may be feeling a mix of emotions such as disappointment, frustration, or anger. Compassion will go a long way in helping the employee feel respected and appreciated for their work.
In addition, keep the process professional by ensuring that the employee is given all of their necessary paperwork in a timely manner, and that their responsibilities are properly passed on to a replacement.
Keep Your Team Informed
An employee who is leaving a company does not just affect the business but their coworkers as well, and this is why it is very important that you notify your team in the most appropriate manner when offboarding an employee.
Workplaces are not just locations to get tasks and projects done but are also where people develop connections and have interdependencies on which they rely, and this can cause stress if one of their team members departs.
Therefore, it is important to be upfront with your team about their fellow team member’s departure dates, what plans you have to replace them if responsibilities need to be reassigned, and any appreciation for their team member’s service to the business.
Being upfront with your team about a coworker’s departure will prevent unwanted surprises and potential crises, and is the appropriate way to effectively offboard an employee.
Protect Company Assets
Nobody likes to be in the uncomfortable situation of an employee quitting their job or being fired. Numerous unfavorable feelings are in the air. In these situations, I think it is essential to protect your most important assets from any potential employee retaliation.
The employer needs to be very careful with their assets and protect them from any potential malevolent attempts to seek retribution for the company’s actions, especially during significant layoffs and workplace disagreements.
The best method to protect your assets and brand is to prevent compliance violations by being proactive in your approach. This could be accomplished by effectively automating the business’s physical assets and streamlining the processes to make the separation process more amicable and engaging for departing employees.