Goodbyes are never easy. You spend weeks on end hiring the best candidate, help train them into the best work-version of themselves, optimize their position in the company, only to be faced with the reality that all good things must come to an end.
An employment can be terminated either voluntarily or involuntarily, meaning the employee can either voluntarily decide to pursue other opportunities or be involuntarily asked to leave the team. Regardless of the way in which employee termination is brought about, however, it doesn’t have to be an entirely negative process.
Offboarding at this final employment stage is what onboarding is during the initial one. It can help ease the transition, finalizing any last processes before the company and the employee go their separate ways. A good offboarding experience can also help the employee and the business part on good terms and with mutual understanding, minimizing risks for future miscommunications or lawsuits.
Happy employees, happy business, right? Making sure that an employee is parting on a positive note can also help boost morale in the office as coworkers get used to the transition, while also helping others pick up the responsibilities that the terminated employee will be leaving behind. And happy employees are just more productive.
But how do you make sure you have a good offboarding plan in place? Here are our 11 pointers to ensure an effective offboarding experience:
1. Write it all down:
Quite simple. Just as you might make a to-do list prior to beginning a new project, make sure you make a personalized checklist for each employee who is leaving. Include any of their responsibilities that will need to be allocated to other members of the team or any projects they must finish before departing, as well as any paperwork that you must get out of the way or any last payments that must be completed by the company.
2. Save the date:
Making sure that you have a set date by which the employee will be leaving the company is a good way to ensure that everyone has a deadline they are working towards. And once the date is set, make sure you communicate the departure to all the necessary members of the team. This will help you avoid workplace gossip, setting a clear understanding of who is leaving, when they will be leaving, and how this departure will be handled. Make sure to thank the terminated employee for their work so far.
3. Do the work:
The paperwork, that is. We know this is the worst one, which is why we’ve added it in early on. Make sure you get all of the documentation out of the way to avoid any rush errors further down the line. Having the departing employee complete their portion of the paperwork earlier in the process can also help both sides make sure that they are on the same page regarding legal agreements or financial processes. And if there are any points on which the two sides disagree, this way there is ample time to address the issues and come to a mutually-agreeable solution.
4. Pass it on:
The departing employee, inevitably, has the best insight into the parts of the business they have been focusing on. Ask them to share their wisdom with other members of the team whose roles might be expanding, or with the new employee who will be filling in this position.
5. Buddy up:
Passing on knowledge might be a bit less straightforward – not everything can be relayed within the span of a zoom call. If a new candidate will be filling in the position, consider asking them to shadow the terminating employee for a couple weeks. This will help them get a hang of the ins and outs of the job, while allowing the leaving employee to end on a more relaxed note by sharing their final duties with someone else.
6. Ask for what’s yours:
Or rather, the company’s. If you have given the employee any assets like mobile phones or laptops, make sure you have allocated a date by which you will be asking to recover these. Similarly, make sure you ask IT to revoke any access to internal company systems or accounts.
7. Stay up to date:
On your company directory. Remove the departing employee from the mailing list and company charts. If they are mentioned on the website, make sure you delete this information. If they have a personalized email address, make sure to direct any messages to this inbox to the replacement employee, along with an explanation as to why the email is bouncing back. Keep all company information up to date.
8. Pay your dues:
Or, quite literally, pay the final amounts you owe to the employee. Make sure their final salary has been paid, and then make sure that they are removed from the payroll system so as not to receive faulty payments in ensuing months. If the employee will be receiving a severance package, complete this payment as part of the offboarding process as well.
9. Conduct an interview
Just as a hiring interview is a good way to learn more about the employee, an exit interview is a great way for you to take a look at your internal systems. During this step, try to figure out what may have led to the employee’s departure. What do they think can be improved in the company? What advice would they have in your handling of future employees for this position, or for their teammates? Now is the time to find out!
10. Be generous:
With your time. If the employee is asking for a letter of reference, make sure to prepare one for them. If they are asking for copies of documents they have signed, get these printed and ready. Some of these you might be legally obligated to prepare, such as final pay information or any contracts.
11. Make it fun:
The whole exit process can feel tedious and detached, so make sure to end it on good terms. There are a lot of ways you could make the employee’s final days in the office memorable (in a positive way), such as planning a paid-for farewell dinner or getting a personalized gift and a card for the departing employee. If you’re an office that likes to party, go ahead and throw a party in their honor. This will help keep office morale up while also leaving the door open for good communication with the former employee.