A good offboarding (or employee exit management) strategy is often low on the priority list for busy HR leaders.
And we get it!
You’ve already got so much on your plate bringing new employees into the fold, shaping their experience with your organization, and ensuring they grow into the fully-rounded hires you knew they could be. Who has time for offboarding?
The thing is, exit management is important. It’s the final act - the last hoorah and your final opportunity to leave a positive impression on your (soon-to-be-ex) employee.
Other pens will discuss the business impacts of good offboarding and why HR should invest in digital offboarding - but today we’re going to keep it simple with a no-frills, 5-step guide to perfect employee exit-management.
You may have heard of the ‘4 C’s of Onboarding’ - essentially the 4 key aspects that need to be covered in an effective new hire process.
In offboarding, a similar concept is at play called the ‘Offboarding ABCs’.
These 5 touchpoints outline the most important components of an effective offboarding program.
Has the departing employee given feedback on their time with the organization?
Has the departing employee been empowered to be a positive future brand ambassador?
Is the departing employee legally prepared to leave the organization?
Has the organization supported the departing employee to leave with dignity and respect?
Has the departing employee’s specialist knowledge been shared and/or documented?
To build a simple yet effective offboarding strategy, it’s as easy as mapping actions at each of the 5 touchpoints - so let’s get started!
Departing employees have knowledge and insight that HR need - don’t let it go to waste!
Too often people schedule exit interviews because “it’s what they’re supposed to do”, only to let the data sit there afterward without doing any analysis or trying to learn and improve. So remember that any actions in this phase are only effective if you utilize the feedback you’ve gathered.
2 actions for Assessment:
Create an incentivized feedback quiz
If you’re receiving similar negative feedback from multiple parties, then it’s probably a good idea to make some changes. The same goes for the positives - if you’re getting positive feedback, look for ways to recreate this success in other areas.
Book an exit-interview with an unbiased 3rd party
The key part here is ‘unbiased’. If your leaver has been having behind-the-scenes problems with their manager, then booking that manager to run their exit interview isn’t going to give you a positive result - a 3rd party interviewer can bridge this particular problem.
Departing employees are the best brand ambassadors...except when they’re the worst.
Investing in a positive offboarding experience will empower your leavers, creating ambassadors and preventing people from bad-mouthing your organization after they’ve left.
Top tip - great brand ambassadors also help with future recruitment!
2 actions for Brand:
Provide (quality) company swag
It may seem counter-productive to give company swag to a departing employee, but it can serve as a fun reminder of their time with your company and set them up as visual brand ambassadors.
Enroll leavers in your Alumni group
A well-run Alumni group will allow you to share company news & events, ask about referrals for job openings, and include leavers in the future of your organization.
Compliance is the one part of offboarding that most organizations get right, mostly because they know the dangers of messing with the legal side of exit management.
Be sure not to mistake good compliance for a well-rounded offboarding strategy though - it’s only one part of the puzzle.
2 actions for Compliance:
Request a signed letter of resignation
This may be a legal formality, but it also gives the resignation a certain amount of finality and can be used as the official beginning of the offboarding process.
Review confidentiality or non-compete agreements
Many employees will have forgotten the intricacies of these policies and a quick in-person review here can prevent headaches down-the-track.
If you purport to ‘put your people first’, then this should be the most important part of your exit management strategy.
Allowing your people to leave with their heads held high is the biggest gift you can give and will foster goodwill with both leavers and your wider employee network.
2 actions for Dignity:
Communicate the departure internally
The sooner the leaver’s departure is announced, the sooner they can have open and honest conversations with their colleagues about the exit. Be sure to let your leaver set the tone of this communication.
Post a LinkedIn ‘thank you’ message
A LinkedIn post from a direct manager to say thank-you to your departing colleague is a great (and public) way to show your appreciation for their tenure.
Picture this - your most senior team member leaves - and they’re a poor record keeper so when they go, their 5 years of accumulated knowledge walk out the door with them!
Safeguarding that knowledge is crucial. Without it, ongoing projects might suffer, time and money are lost, and the wider team will become less productive as they’re forced to pick up the slack.
2 actions for Expertise:
Facilitate access to resources
Ensure the departing employee briefs their manager on the systems they use and any log-ins and/or passwords that will be required. Think about how to store these safely and securely.
Film a video handover
If your leavers will depart before their replacement starts, try having your exiting employee record a short handover video. This has the added benefit of giving your newest hire a soft landing when they eventually join the company.
Saying goodbye to your employees doesn’t always have to be a negative thing.
Take action at each of the 5 offboarding ABCs and you’ll be sure to safeguard business continuity, grow your future processes, and ultimately create powerful brand ambassadors who leave your organization with their heads held high.