We’ve talked about onboarding in great detail by now. You know how to onboard new employees, returning employees, employees who have been on parental leave… but what about onboarding’s twin sibling, offboarding?
Especially if working for a startup or a smaller company, you might have a tendency to avoid thinking much about offboarding – if you have just started hiring people, what’s the point in preparing for them to leave?
Well, it’s never a bad idea to have insurance. And offboarding, in this case, is a lot like ‘leaving insurance.’ True, it’s probably not needed right now. But in the case that it does become needed, it’s best to have ready at hand.
This is all to say that an offboarding plan is just as essential to a successful business as an onboarding plan. And how do you do it? Well, here are 5 questions to help you design the perfect offboarding plan:
1. Have you informed all relevant parties regarding the departure?
It’s always sad when an employee is leaving. There are goodbye parties to be planned (well, maybe this one not so sad), projects to be finalised, accounts to close… But have you also evaluated how their departure will affect everyone else in the company? Will the HR department need to process extra paperwork? Will IT need to work on changing passwords and revoking digital access? Will team members have to share assigned clients?
Bidding adieu to an employee might feel overwhelming, which is why focusing on this step first might be a good idea. By distributing the necessary workload to the relevant teams or teammembers, you will then be able to place your focus on delegating these tasks and making sure that everything has been finalised correctly.
When communicating the departure to the relevant parties, make sure you do so respectfully. Even if the whole situation may have left a sour taste in your mouth, maintain professionalism and only reference the reason for departure if necessary. If there will be a new person taking over the position, include their name and email as a new contact person.
A tip: when thinking of people to contact, spare no department in your revision. Chances are, an employee departure will affect many departments in the office, regardless of how unrelated they may seem.
2. Have you completed all necessary paperwork?
If you’re reading this, you are probably part of the HR department. So when, in the previous section, we talked about HR processing extra paperwork, this was actually directly related to you. You’re welcome.
As is the case with any employment commencement, employee terminations also require a plethora of paperwork to be completed. The first of these, of course, is to request a formal letter of resignation or to issue a formal termination letter. In this document, make sure to include all formal details such as the decision to resign from the position, the last day of employment, and whether all remaining days will be carried out in the office.
When this is done, think of any remaining legal paperwork you may need to gather/issue. Is there need for an NDA? Are there any final payments that need to go through? The sooner you start working through the list and issuing all necessary documents, the easier it will be to process the termination and to bid farewell.
3. Have you planned handoff?
If an employee is leaving, it’s likely that their position will be refilled by someone else. This may be an internal promotion or an external hire and, in either case, there will need to be a thorough handover process.
First and foremost, of course, you will need to figure out who will be filling the employee’s position. How will the decision be made, and when will the interviews be conducted? Do you plan to have any stretch of time when the position remains unfilled? Will multiple people be assuming the responsibilities of this position in the meantime?
Of course, deciding on the person to fill this position isn’t enough on its own. There will then need to be adequate training and, if the hire is external, company onboarding. The leaving employee will need to make sure that they have left everything in an organised manner, ensuring that their replacement will be able to grasp all necessary information quickly.
As part of handoff, you might also want to explore conducting regular meetings with the new employee to make sure that they are settling into their role well and that they do not need any additional training to address skill gaps.
4. Have you recovered company assets and revoked access?
We know, we know, we’re cheating – we did technically file this under ‘things to be delegated to other departments,’ but it’s such an important step that it deserves its own section.
Employees are often entrusted with an array of company assets, ranging from laptops and cars to passwords and databases. As they leave, you need to make sure that all of this access has been revoked. Sure, it may be up to IT to actually revoke the access – but it should be part of the HR offboarding checklist to double and triple check that access has indeed been revoked.
Remove them from work group chats, ask for any gadgets back (they will need to be handed over to the replacement, after all), and change passwords if necessary. If employees are given benefits such as free membership to gyms or educational courses, now would be the time to revoke access to these as well
5. Have you conducted an exit interview or a feedback survey?
Alas, another interview. But this time an exit one, not to get to know the employee better but to get some valued honest feedback.
An exit interview is often the perfect time to get an employee’s unfiltered thoughts in a low-stakes environment. While they may not have felt comfortable enough to provide truthful accounts while still employed, having now ended their position will allow them to be honest about the reasons behind their departure
Questions that can be asked during an exit interview range from why the employee is leaving to how they think company culture can be improved upon. And the good thing is that all the feedback from the interview or the survey can then be used to improve any underlying issues that might be affecting company retention adversely.
So here they are, the 5 questions to get you planning a thorough offboarding experience!