Human resources

Offboarding departing employees like a boss. Learn how to announce employee departure.

Offboarding departing employees like a boss. Learn how to announce employee departure.Ivana Georgievska
April 5, 2022

Key Takeaways

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Why is the off-boarding process just as important as your onboarding process?

The off-boarding process is as important as your onboarding process.

Arguably even more so.

Doing it the right way makes a big difference for your business reputation and future hires.

When a valuable employee tells you they’re leaving, the first thing that comes to your mind is how to extract their acquired organisational knowledge and experience before they are gone. 

The second thought is to make it easily transferable to the next person on the job.

Provided you have a clause in your contract that obliges the staff to announce their potential departure at least four weeks in advance, and there’s nothing to worry about. 

How can you oversee the transition in a way that helps you retain that expertise? 

Failing to capture the departing employee’s organisational know-how is shortsighted,  especially if the person leaving has “deep smarts - meaning business-critical, experience-based knowledge,” says Dorothy Leonard, professor emerita at Harvard Business School and chief adviser of the consulting firm Leonard-Barton Group.


What is employee off-boarding?

Employee off-boarding is a formal process that takes place when an individual's employment has ended. It includes specific procedures and events that apply when an employee leaves an organisation.

Employee off-boarding is the last stage of the employee life cycle and probably one of the most underrated sub-functions of Human Resources. 

Processes like hiring, onboarding, or even employee engagement get a considerable amount of attention from the HR department, HR employees need to realise that off-boarding also plays an essential role in building an employer's reputation.

Employee termination can take place either voluntarily or involuntarily. 

Voluntary termination would include an employee leaving the job by choice. 

Involuntary termination could occur if the employee wasn’t following the organisations policy, rules and regulations, failed to complete their tasks and duties, wasn’t choosing to maintain a constructive and positive relationship with the team, etc.

Why having a well-planned employee off-boarding is a must?

Saying goodbye to an employee doesn’t need to be a bad experience for either party.

If done correctly, it can result in significant advantages. 

We know that an onboarding process can provide a clear overview of an employee’s time with a company.

When you onboard an employee well, it helps them increase productivity, and you also create a better chance of making the employee stay with the company for a longer time. 

Similarly, an off-boarding process will affect how an employee remembers your company after leaving the organisation.

This can also affect how they interact and promote your organisation.

Establishing  a meaningful off-boarding process helps:

  • Avoiding continuation of salary payment
  • Easier transitioning of job responsibilities from one employee to the next
  • Avoiding potential lawsuits for wrongful termination etc
  • Gathering feedback to improve the company for current employees

  1. Builds confidence in other employees

Any employee who has been with your organisation and worked for you deserves a graceful goodbye. 

When you put in the effort to ensure an effective off-boarding process, you make the employee confident in the organisation, the management, the team and ultimately, themselves.  

This feeling of appreciation is replicated in the way they talk about your company later on and will affect the way they promote your brand.

  1. Prevents distraction from work and errors 

Planning for a proper off-boarding process enables both you (the HR) and the employee to be aware of every task that needs to be done. 

In that way, there is no error or confusion in terms of the documentation or off-boarding paperwork.

It also gives the employee clarity regarding their last working day or even information about the pension. 

All errors or confusion can be avoided if you integrate your employee off-boarding process with HR software.

This will help you keep track of all the different steps involved in the process and the documentation and paperwork.

  1. Boost morale with the current employees

When someone leaves an organisation, they leave behind the team of people they used to work with.

This can cause distress within the team. A change in group dynamics also can take place. 

In such a situation, when you make an effort to plan and conduct a quality onboarding process, you make the employee who is leaving feel important and the employees who still work for you. 

It sends a message that you care for your employees even if they leave the company.

This is a crucial move that creates employee loyalty.

  1. Creates room for future collaborations

Very often, companies hire contractors temporarily. But they need someone they can trust. 

If your employee leaves the company on good terms, they are more likely to come back and help with an assignment or two.

If in the future they join a business or company that is complementary to yours, they will be more likely to trust you and work together.

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How is employee off-boarding correlated with employer branding?

When the off-boarding is adequately executed, former employees will remember their tenure based on the last few days.

If they say negative things, needless to say, it will create bad publicity. 

There are other reasons why employer branding needs to be good in the eyes of past employees. Here’s why.


Increase your chances of gaining boomerang employees

We all know about the boomerang effect. It involves employees who leave the job but eventually return to work for you. 

Would it be great if you could get back some trusted former employees to rejoin your team?

When employees leave on good terms, there is a good chance they could come back. 

A good off-boarding process ensures they do so.

A strong alumni network helps current employees work better

When an employee leaves your organisation, assuming they did so on good terms, you can always count on them to come back to mentor or help your current employees. 

You could get them back to conduct a session for current employees to learn something new.

After all, who better to learn from than someone who has walked the path before you.

How to conduct the employee off-boarding?

Make an off-boarding checklist.

Of all the steps, this one is the most important because after doing this, you won’t forget any of the other steps in the process.

Before you begin anything else, consider the employee's role within the organisation, what kind of employee termination is taking place and then write down a list of things to do and paperwork to get out of the way.

Complete all documentation and paperwork.

The most important part of this step is making the employee sign a resignation letter. The last working date should be clearly stated in the resignation letter. 

The HR department needs to go through all the past paperwork the employee has signed. These, for example, include a non-disclosure agreement or other contracts signed at the time of hiring, employee benefits documents, etc.

Announce employee's departure from department or company.

The best way you could do this is by sending out emails. Keep these emails informative but short and crisp. You should include details about

Create an off-boarding knowledge transfer plan.

This stage includes wrapping up all pending tasks before the employee exits. It also focuses on creating a knowledge base for the new employees. 

When done well, the transition becomes smooth and the employee filling in the space of the old employee will be able to do a better job.

Communicate to the employee’s clients about the departure.

Is this employee dealing with clients? You need to inform them that this employee will no longer work with them and which other employee will take over. 

Conduct an exit interview.

This step becomes crucial when the employee decides to leave on their own volition. 

An exit interview allows a detailed understanding of why the employee is leaving. 

And how to improve the working of your employees.

An HR representative should ask the questions instead of the immediate supervisor. The employee may be less likely to talk to his supervisor openly, even if he is leaving soon. 

Your exit interview questions should include but not be restricted to those listed below. 

  • What made you decide to leave the organisation?
  • Name of few things you would like to change about our company.
  • How easy or difficult was it for you to get the resources required to do your job?
  • Was it easy or difficult to work with your team members?
  • How did our company help or harm your personal career growth and plans?
  • Is there anything else you’d like to mention before we finish the interview?

The point of conducting an exit interview is to improve the company’s work environment or culture. 

When you receive feedback based on the above questions, act on it. Sometimes, employees provide negative feedback based on things they can’t help with, either because of budget constraints or other reasons.

Revoke access from all of the company’s accounts.

This step is crucial because after employment is terminated, no former employee should be able to take any action against the company or leak any sensitive information to any competitor, etc.

Settle the employee’s financial accounts.

Make sure that the employee is taken off the payroll system if your software doesn’t automatically update it while offboarding. 

Plan a farewell party.

When one of your employees leaves the company, you must show them you care. 

It doesn't need to be a big party either. You could just gather the team for a lunch or dinner get-together to show the employee you care for them and appreciate them.

Every act of kindness and support, especially when offered during a difficult period, stays in your memory forever. 

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