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Offboarding: the benefits of a conscious employee exit process

Completing the employment lifecycle with as much emphasis on good offboarding as onboarding creates an atmosphere of respect and professionalism while giving invaluable insight into your employee churn.

Waist up portrait of smiling young businesswoman holding box of personal belongings leaving office after quitting job

Like the song says, breaking up is hard to do. Whether an employee has resigned, been let go, accepts a redundancy offer, or is retiring, the decision to leave has no doubt been a difficult one. But, whatever the situation, there’s no reason the time you have left together should be wasted ­– as long as you take a conscious approach to saying goodbye.

Start by considering the time and effort you and your employee have invested in your relationship up to now – and how those years of commitment, engagement, trust and loyalty can be broken if your employee leaves your company feeling ignored and devalued. Think about how different the outcome could be if you asked yourself what you can do to make sure this person looks back and thinks, “Wow, those were some of the best years of my career.”

In much of Europe, and in the Nordics in particular, long notice periods are pretty standard. This means you and your leaver will spend quite some time together – maybe even a few months – before you part ways. How will you use that time? You can either make the assumption that your employee has one foot out the door already (leaving them feeling worse by the day), or you can put the time to good use with a thoughtful, personalised offboarding schedule.

A man and woman at a construction site shake handsObviously, the notice period is a key time to transfer knowledge and perform handover tasks, but it’s also a chance to gain important insights into how your employee felt about working with you and, if they resigned, why they are leaving. You are now dealing with someone who has very little to lose by being completely honest with you, so make sure you seize the opportunity to get honest feedback by creating an atmosphere of safety in which they can do so. While a formal exit interview is standard practice in most companies, during a long resignation period there is an opportunity to take this in stages rather than conducting a single interview session in the final week.

You should also think about this period as a time to shape the final memories your employee will take away with them. Why does this matter? Because a happy former employee will talk positively about their time with you, will give favourable referrals to prospective new hires, and may even consider reapplying for future positions with you after they’ve had time to develop their career and skills elsewhere.

If you’re sad to see this employee go, make sure they know how much you appreciate everything they’ve done. And even if the circumstances aren’t so pleasant, you can still make sure the situation is handled with sensitivity and professionalism so that everyone involved parts ways with their dignity and respect intact.

A man and a woman wave goodbye

Think of it as sending a new brand ambassador out into the world – one who could make or break your reputation, depending on how you handle your final weeks together. Just as you only have one chance to make a first impression, you only get this one last chance to make a lasting impression. After all, your other employees are watching how you handle this process. If a departing employee is seen to feel a twinge of regret over leaving because you’re treating them so well, others will feel happy about sticking around.

All this might seem like a lot of work to do while you’re also handling the practicalities of an employee exit, but this is where automation can save the day. Routine tasks that are common to every employee’s exit – handover checklists, removing system access, signing resignation forms, etc. – can be managed by a digital system while you spend time on creating more valuable, personalised final experiences for your employee.

The key to a positive exit is celebrating your leaver’s achievements, congratulating them on their new opportunities, and making sure they feel that they’re moving on, not escaping.

To find out more about how a digitalised approach to recruitment, onboarding and offboarding can give you more time to spend on the human side of human resources, download our e-guide, Digitalising the recruitment, onboarding and offboarding lifecycle.

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Zoë Harris

Zoë Harris, 18 June 2019

Zoë Harris is a content marketing specialist who has worked with companies across the Nordics and the world since moving from Australia in 2006. With a background in communication strategy, UX writing, creative writing, and copywriting/editing, she's inspired by the human stories that make each business or organisation unique.