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How To Create An Effective Offboarding Process

How To Create An Effective Offboarding ProcessHow To Create An Effective Offboarding Process
min read
September 21, 2023

Most companies put a lot of effort into onboarding; they want to make sure they’re setting their new hires up for success—and they set them up for that success with a thorough employee onboarding process that outlines everything the new employee needs to know to get up and running and thrive within in their role and the organization.

But there’s another process that’s equally important that companies generally don’t put as much thought and effort into—and that’s offboarding.

The offboarding experience is just as important to the health of your team and your organization as onboarding—and if you want your company to thrive in the long-term, you need to develop an effective offboarding process that allows you to successfully transition departing employees, make sure your existing team members prepare for that employee’s departure, and get the feedback you need to continually grow and improve your organization.

But how, exactly, do you create that kind of offboarding experience? Let’s take a dive into employee offboarding.

What Is Offboarding—And Why Is It Important?

First things first. Before we jump into how to develop an offboarding plan for your business, let’s quickly cover what, exactly, employee offboarding is—and why the process is so essential for your business.

Employee offboarding happens when an employee leaves your company; it’s the process of transitioning an exiting employee out of their role, their team, and your organization.

Offboarding is a critical process for your business for a few different reasons, including:

What Are The Elements Of Effective Offboarding?

Clearly, developing an effective onboarding process is a must for your business. But what, exactly, does that process entail?

There are a few key elements to successful offboarding employees, including:

Draft A Communication Plan

The offboarding process begins the moment that you become aware an employee is leaving your company—whether that’s when you determine you’ll be moving forward with layoffs or when an employee hands you a letter of resignation and starts their two-week notice period.

Once you know an employee is leaving your company, you’ll want to draft a plan for how to communicate that news to the rest of your team. It’s important that your communication is clear, direct, and loops in all relevant parties; otherwise, you run the risk of team members finding out on their own—and coming up with their own conclusions.

For example, if one of your senior managers lets you know they’re leaving for another opportunity, it’s important to draft a communication plan for how you’re going to let their direct reports know; otherwise, they might jump to the conclusion that something is wrong within the company or that their department is in jeopardy. Or, as another example, if your company is initiating layoffs, it’s important to draft a communications plan that acknowledges the hard work of the employees being let go while also reassuring your remaining employees that their jobs are secure; otherwise, they may assume that the layoffs will continue—and they might be next.

The point is, when an employee leaves a company, the word is going to get out one way or another—and if you want your offboarding to be effective, you need to make sure that you’re the one releasing that information and controlling the message.

Schedule A Knowledge Transfer

One of the most essential parts of effective offboarding is the knowledge transfer.

A knowledge transfer is...well, exactly what it sounds like. It’s when the exiting employee transfers their knowledge to their remaining co-workers or direct reports, incoming new hire, and/or any other relevant stakeholders within your company.

Depending on the departing employee’s role, a knowledge transfer can include a variety of elements, including:

There’s no single way to successfully navigate a knowledge transfer; depending on the employee’s role and responsibilities, you might schedule meetings with your leaving employee and any relevant stakeholders, have the exiting employee do one-on-one training with the incoming employee taking over their role, or have the employee who is leaving create a document or video transferring their knowledge.

The important part isn’t how you do the knowledge transfer—it’s that you ensure that, before your employee walks out the door on their last day, all of the knowledge necessary to successfully manage their job duties and responsibilities has been explained, documented, and transferred to the appropriate parties within your organization.

Return Of Company Assets

Another important element of the offboarding process? Making sure that your employee returns any company assets before their departure.

This may include:

Make sure to create a list of all the company assets in the employee’s possession—and then schedule a time on the employee’s last day for them to turn over those assets to human resources.

Conduct An Exit Interview

The exit interview is arguably the most important part of the offboarding process—so, if you want to leverage offboarding to improve your company, it’s important to structure your exit interviews in a way that gets you the feedback you need to identify any areas for improvement—and then use that feedback to better your company.

Want to make the most out of your exit interviews? Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Update Any Relevant Business Systems And Processes

Once your employee is officially departed, you want to make sure you update any relevant business systems and processes on the backend to reflect their departure—like updating org charts, updating your payroll and time tracking software, and revoking the employee’s access to any internal company systems.

Tips For Developing An Effective Offboarding Procedure For Your Business

You know employee offboarding is important. You know the steps of the process. Now, let’s see how to maximize the effectiveness of your employee offboarding—and make sure that every employee departure ultimately betters your company.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind to ensure your offboarding procedure is as effective and efficient as possible:

Offboard Your Way To A Stronger Organization

The offboarding process is extremely important to the health and success of your business. And now that you know the elements of an effective offboarding experience, you have everything you need to leverage each employee exit to make your organization stronger.

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