Blog Post

    Employee offboarding: Best practices for different types of offboardee

    Even your most loyal employees will move on at some point, either towards a new opportunity, their retirement or even as a result of restructuring within your organization.

    It’s important to understand that whilst all leavers need a structured exit management process, your practices need to be tailored to support different types of leavers - you wouldn’t give the same offboarding experience to a retiree and someone who is having their contract discontinued right?

    In this blog, we will take a first-hand look at the most common offboarding scenarios and what works (and what doesn’t) for the different offboarding types, and share our ‘offboarding essentials’ checklist for each type to make meaningful improvements to your employee offboarding processes.

    What are the most common employee offboarding scenarios?

    1. Retirement

    An employee moving into retirement can be a bittersweet moment for both HR and the retiree.

    On the one hand, it’s a cause for celebration as your employee looks back at a successful career and onward to more time spent on family and leisure. On the other, you’re losing a valuable team member with a wealth of knowledge, and your leaver is moving into the unknown, leaving behind longtime friends and co-workers.

    That’s why getting the offboarding process right for a retiree is so important.

    You need to safeguard that huge wealth of knowledge, facilitate opportunities for the organization to say a meaningful goodbye, and ensure that your retiree leaves with their head held high!

    What TO do

    Focus on activities that ensure the retiree’s organizational experience is safely handed down to their replacement or another team member, it’s good to let the retiree lead this process, but YOU need to have a set of guidelines or a checklist to help guide them.

    What NOT to do

    Don’t make light of the work and energy a retiree has put into your organization. You are likely to be their last (at least full-time) employer and you need to remember that the way you facilitate their exit will leave a lasting mark on how they remember you, and their working life.

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    Offboarding journey essentials for retirees 


    5 Weeks before departure: Plan in a ‘Your Offboarding Journey’ session

    5 weeks or so before the agreed departure date, sit down with your retiring employee and discuss their offboarding timeline. Ask them how THEY want to depart the organization and agree on specific deadlines for important tasks.

    4 Weeks before departure: Begin the knowledge transfer process

    A retiree will likely have accumulated a vast amount of valuable knowledge throughout their tenure - so it’s important to start the process of transferring that knowledge to other employees early in the offboarding timeline.

    2 Weeks before departure: Host a proper celebration

    Consider the contribution a retiree has bought to the table during their tenure and plan a celebratory dinner or activity that honors that. Make it one to remember, one to remind them of all the wonderful times they’ve had with your organization!

    1 Week before departure: Hold an exit interview

    Of all your departing employees, retirees have maybe the MOST insight to give. They have nothing to lose by being completely honest and you may uncover some great ways to improve your processes.

    1 Day before departure: Book lunch with the CEO or other key company figure

    This is a really nice way to make a retiree’s last day special. A private lunch with the CEO sends the message that their time is valuable and that your organization truly values the work they have put in over the years.

    2. Restructure

    Being restructured out of an organization is never a nice experience.

    Your departing employee is likely feeling insecure, in both their abilities and their newfound financial uncertainty. They will probably be confused, particularly if they have performed well in their role historically. And they’re likely to feel a little betrayed by the organization they put their trust in.

    HR has no control over how your employee takes the news, but they DO have control over how that news is delivered and what kind of support network is in place to support departing employees.

    Whilst employee’s being restructured out of an organization may not leave ‘happy’, you can at least help them leave with strong prospects and their head held high.

    What TO do

    Approach any restructuring situation with as much empathy as possible. Understand that many things will be going through your departing employees’ heads and they will need time to process the information and make sense of things on their terms.

    What NOT to do

    No matter how large your organization becomes, never announce any kind of job cuts en-masse. It shows a lack of respect towards your departing employees and will most certainly affect how your remaining employees feel about your organization. Make a personal call or book a meeting face-to-face when breaking the news.

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    Offboarding journey essentials for restructures 


    4 Weeks before departure: Ask how your leaver wants to break the news

    To ensure your leaver feels empowered here, it’s very important to discuss with them how THEY wish to communicate their departure. They may choose to say they are departing of their own volition or simply wish to disappear out the back door on their last day. And that’s OK!

    3 Weeks before departure: Write a recommendation letter

    Oftentimes, restructuring has little to do with an employee’s work and more to do with the needs of the company. So it is always good to honor your leaver’s history with your organization by writing an appropriate reference letter for them in advance.

    2 Weeks before departure: Ask your departing employee to host a lunch and learn

    If your leaver is open to it, ask them if they would like to host a lunch-and-learn session to share their knowledge. Done right, this can empower your departing employee letting them showcase their experience and expertise.

    1 Week before departure: Crowd-source a ‘goodbye’ card

    Of all your departing employees, retirees have maybe the MOST insight to give. They have nothing to lose by being completely honest and you may uncover some great ways to improve your processes.

    1 Day before departure: Give a leaving gift

    Whatever the reason for the restructure, it’s a good idea to give a leaving gift to your departing employee. To ensure a unique gift, try asking their team for inspiration, or even delegating the task to a close colleague.

    3. Resignation

    Depending on the reasons behind the departure, resignation can be an exciting time. It can signal the start of a new journey, the growth of your career, or even a big pay jump.

    HR can support (and even leverage) this feeling by offering a structured offboarding with lots of opportunities for the departing employee to be celebrated.

    Even if the employee is leaving on less desirable terms, a good offboarding process can go a long way in helping an employee express their grievances in a constructive way - helping them leave on a more positive note.

    What TO do

    Use this time to reinforce (or rebuild) the positive experience of working for your organization. Think of it as the post-credits scene in a blockbuster film, an opportunity for joy, excitement, and celebration.

    What NOT to do

    Don’t take resignations personally. Remember that people resign all the time and that an employee’s choice to leave is entirely their own. Be supportive of their choice and continue to treat them as a valued team player until the very end of their tenure.

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    Offboarding journey essentials for resignations 


    4 Weeks before departure: Request a signed letter of resignation

    In any resignation setting, it’s important to receive an official resignation letter from your departing employee. This gives you a starting point for your offboarding timeline and allows you to plan how to best use your leaver’s remaining time.

    3 Weeks before departure: Organize a formal handover 

    Resignations can catch us by surprise, so it’s a good idea to schedule a formal handover/knowledge sharing session between your departing employee and a close colleague. This serves to safeguard important organizations should you be unable to recruit a replacement before your employee leaves.

    2 Weeks before departure: Enroll the departing employee in your Alumni program

    Enrolling resigning employees in an alumni program is a great way to keep leavers softly engaged with your organization. This increases the chances of them initiating a job referral within their own network or even becoming a ‘boomerang employee’.

    1 Week before departure: Hold a ‘farewell’ dinner or drinks session

    Resigning employees often leave on a good note after an extended tenure with your organization. Consider having a smaller drinks session in-office for leavers with a short tenure, and a more ‘lavish’ celebration for those with many years of service under their belt.

    1 Day before departure: Post a heartfelt internal message

    This may seem like a no-brainer but many organizations forget how powerful a simple ‘thank you’ can be. On the day of the employee’s departure, share a company-wide message that celebrates the leaver’s achievements and recognizes their service.

    4. Released

    Sometimes things just don’t work out. It may be the employee isn’t a good fit, it may be they are underperforming, or it may be that the organization made a mistake. Whatever the reason, in these cases HR often chooses not to renew the contract - releasing the employee from the organization.

    Similarly to restructuring, in these cases, it’s key to be empathetic and offer your leaver help & support to move forward with dignity. You can, with a strong offboarding process, make this experience easier on your leaver, whilst giving HR insight and info to help reduce the chance of a repeat scenario.

    What TO do

    Be truthful with your leaver on the reasons behind their contract not being renewed. You may feel that ‘letting them down easy’ is in their best interests, but it only succeeds in limiting their ability to learn and grow from the experience.

    What NOT to do

    Don’t disregard their feedback just because they have underperformed or were not a good fit. It is often from negative experiences we can learn the most, so take any comments you can get and put them to good use for future improvements!

    * Remember that for most of the world, the process of discontinuing an employee’s contract is governed by employment law. For the protection of your organization and the privacy of your leaver, be sure to consult your legal team or another trusted source for advice specific to your country/region.

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    Offboarding journey essentials 


    3 Weeks before departure: Share a LinkedIn ‘open-to-work’ template

    Even if you don’t appreciate your leaver’s work ethic or style, it’s a good idea to give them tools to allow them to continue to grow and develop their career. Share a ‘looking for work’ LinkedIn template that helps them communicate to the world that they are ready for a new opportunity.

    2 Weeks before departure: Complete an in-depth feedback survey

    Before your leaver’s exit interview, be sure to offer them an opportunity to complete a feedback survey. This will make the exit interview more focussed and allow them to frame their thoughts in a more constructive way, rather than feeling simply upset.

    1 Week before departure: Review non-compete agreements etc.

    Many employees will have forgotten the intricacies of these policies and a quick clarification here can prevent headaches down the track, especially if this employee is leaving under more negative circumstances.

    1 Day before departure: Farewell morning tea

    Let your leaver lead this process, they may simply want to slip out the back door rather than ‘celebrate their time’ with the organization. If they are open to it though, put some effort into a small celebration that gives the opportunity to say goodbye.

    After departure: Hold an employee stakeholder meeting

    Meet with the leaver’s stakeholders (direct manager, HR rep, and other key contacts) to discuss the reasons behind the departure and think of how you can improve your processes going forward to avoid similar scenarios.

    5. wRapped-up

    Many organizations bring on freelancers for short-term projects that they lack the in-house skill to complete, who then depart when the project has wrapped. Many also make the mistake of assuming these skilled workers don’t require an offboarding process.

    Often these projects take many months and result in the freelancer becoming heavily embedded in your organization, having formed close connections with their temporary colleagues and an affinity with your company.

    A great offboarding process for project-based workers can result in great reviews for your company and a strong likelihood the employee will return for future projects.

    What TO do

    Oftentimes, HR may know less about a contract worker, so they may lack key info to be able to personalize the offboarding experience. Try reaching out to their manager or any close colleagues for insight here.

    What NOT to do

    Don’t fall into the trap of assuming contract workers don’t require an offboarding. This is a missed opportunity to create positive energy for your departing freelancer and cultivate genuine business dividends for your organization.

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    Offboarding journey essentials for freelancers 


    3 Weeks before departure: Book a ‘project wrap-up’ session

    Freelance workers may have a lot on their plate towards the end of their project - so be sure to book a formal ‘project wrap-up’ session where knowledge can be shared and any outstanding ‘to-do’ items can be communicated.

    2 Weeks before departure: Post a LinkedIn ‘thank you’

    Freelancers often thrive or fail based on word-of-mouth and their LinkedIn presence. If you were pleased with their work, be sure to share that with your network and give them a shout-out - you never know, you may just secure their next project!

    1 Week before departure: Request a company review

    Contract workers and freelancers are the PERFECT candidates for a Glassdoor or other recruitment site review. They have intricate knowledge of your organization and usually leave on a positive note - so be bold and ask them to leave you a review.

    1 Day before departure: Book a manager coffee outing

    This may sound basic, but a simple coffee outing with a manager (or another key contact) is a great way to recognize a short-term employee’s contribution to your organization.

    After departure: Check-in with your leaver

    Having good project-based workers on hand is always a blessing, so be sure to cultivate that relationship long-term by checking in on them after they’ve left. If you maintain a good connection you may be able to call on them in the future.

    6. Rule-breaker

    This is the most difficult offboarding scenario - dismissing an employee for misconduct. In these (hopefully few-and-far-between) situations, the offboarding process needs to mostly focus on the legal and administrative elements of exit management.

    You need to safeguard the organization against future complications, respect the rights and privacy of the leaver and ensure all company property is returned in a timely fashion.

    What TO do

    Follow your internal dismissal processes to the letter and ensure all your communications are clear and transparent. This will safeguard you and your team in the future should the situation get messy.

    What NOT to do

    Don’t lose your cool. You may feel angry, disappointed, betrayed, or upset but taking these emotions out of the departing employee will not serve you well in the long term and may even open the door to a grievance procedure down the track.

    *Remember that for most of the world, the process of dismissing an employee for misconduct is governed by employment law. For the protection of your organization and the privacy of your leaver, be sure to consult your legal team or another trusted source for advice specific to your country/region.

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    Offboarding journey essentials 


    Before departure

    Breakdown the final pay. Provide the leaver with a breakdown of their final pay in advance. Be sure to clearly explain what they are entitled to and outline the time frame in which they can expect any remaining wages to be paid.

    Safeguard company property. Ensure all access badges, keys and other company equipment have been returned. Otherwise, you may never see these items again.

    Sign a termination agreement. Have HR and the leaver sign an agreement that confirms the offboarding process took place and all relevant measures were covered. This can protect both parties from any future complications.

    After departure

    Carry out a process investigation. If the misconduct was serious, be sure to look into your processes and make changes to safeguard against future rule-breakers. It’s worth speaking with your leaver’s team, manager, and any other people who worked closely with them.

    All employees who leave your organization have a role to play in your future. Tailoring the journey to different scenarios and pain points will help you safeguard your organization against any negative implications whilst helping your leavers exit with dignity.

    With our offboarding software, you will be able to personalize the content you deliver to leavers, dependant on WHY they are leaving your organization, creating a perfectly tailored exit management experience for all!

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    Topics: Offboarding
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