Employee Offboarding: How Can Organizations Let Go Gracefully?

Employee Offboarding How Can Organizations Let Go Gracefully

What Is Offboarding And How To Create An Effective Employee Offboarding Strategy?

During the onboarding process, employees are acclimated to their new workplace and shown how they should perform their tasks. Most companies invest a lot of research and time into building a strong onboarding procedure that can last anywhere from a couple of months to a year. However, they don’t always invest in proper offboarding, letting their workers exit their teams without having a conversation and informing their colleagues on time. There are several steps to the employee offboarding process, from filling in all the necessary paperwork and carrying out all legal proceedings to having an exit interview. Read on to discover why employee offboarding is important and how you can draft an effective offboarding strategy for your organization.

Why Is Employee Offboarding Important?

It Leaves A Positive Final Impression

Research shows that 86% of job applicants read company reviews before submitting their applications. This means that companies should pay extra attention to their brand image and how past employees feel about them. Regardless of the reasons behind your employee’s departure, this can be a good opportunity for an honest and mutually beneficial discussion. On the one hand, organizations leave a better last impression by showing exiting employees that they care about their future, potentially gaining some positive online reviews in the process. On the other hand, the employee ensures a long-lasting connection that could even end up in a future return, perhaps after they have gained more experience and knowledge.

Companies Can Improve Based On Feedback

Departing workers are more likely to share negative feedback during offboarding, dampening employee morale and creating a hostile work environment. Turn this behavior into an opportunity for improvement by setting up a feedback session with your employee, during which they can express their complaints, qualms, or suggestions in a safe and judgment-free environment. Make sure to note down their feedback and compare it with exit interview data of other former employees. If the same comments seem to be coming up a lot, this is your sign to take a long, hard look at your company culture and take measures to improve it. For example, if diversity is a major problem, investing in DE&I awareness training will improve top talent retention.

Provides Protection Against Security Risks

When a new person is hired, organizations typically offer them certain assets, like computers and mobile phones, and grant them access to company systems and sensitive information. During offboarding, it’s essential that managers recover this equipment and revoke corporate permissions, including access to any electronic systems, databases, and online platforms. If you fail to complete this step, you risk ex-personnel logging into their accounts and having access to sensitive data. This can pose a severe threat to your company’s security since disgruntled employees may publicize sensitive information and cause businesses to lose the trust of their customers and stakeholders.

How Can Organizations Carve Out An Employee Offboarding Strategy?

Communicate About The Departure

When an employee leaves, voluntarily or not, you usually have limited time to plan for their departure. Therefore, it’s crucial to know the precise date of their last day to schedule and complete any offboarding activities. These will include communicating with the HR department to give them time to prepare necessary paperwork and pending payments, as well as planning your employee’s replacement, among others. You may need to start a recruitment process to hire externally or make internal changes to fill the position. In any case, advance planning and communication are essential during this stage to prevent loss of time. Don’t forget to announce a person’s exit to the rest of your company to promote transparency and give everyone time to adjust to the changes in tasks and workload.

Ensure Knowledge Transfer

An employee’s departure signals the loss of a set of unique skills and knowledge. The solution to a smoother transition is facilitating knowledge transfer by asking the departing individual for a detailed handover document explaining how they conduct their daily work. This includes their daily tasks, how they prioritize their responsibilities, who they communicate with, and who they report to inside and outside the organization. Additionally, they must transfer any important files and documents and list all the tools and software they use for their work. If necessary, they might have to train someone else, even if they’re not the permanent replacement, on how to effectively use them. This will help leadership during the transition period and make things easier for the next employee taking on the position.

Transfer Responsibilities

Hiring a replacement may take time, which is why the hiring process must start right away. In the meantime, responsibilities and tasks should be transferred to a co-worker who is already familiar with this type of work. This ensures that productivity and customer satisfaction are maintained. Especially if the departing employee was in close contact with a client, it’s essential to inform them that their link to the company has left and introduce them to the replacement. By keeping these things in mind, you will be able to quickly find the right person to fill the gap in your company and train the new hire efficiently.

Recover Corporate Assets

Research shows that 1 out of 4 employees maintain access to their past jobs. Such an occurrence can be a major breach of privacy, and that’s why companies need to retrieve all corporate assets from departing workers. During employee offboarding, they should go over the list of things the company provided to the individual. It could be laptops, phones, credit cards, keys, and ID badges. Additionally, the IT department should be notified and revoke access to all online environments, like the Content Management System (CMS) and corporate emails. Managers can offer a grace period to those leaving so they can remove any personal files and data before their access is revoked.

Make Final Payments

HR is responsible for handling all the legal matters during employee offboarding. For example, they must proceed with someone’s last pay and any additional bonuses, if applicable, before removing them from the company’s payroll. In some cases, professionals are required to sign certain documents, i.e., a letter of resignation or confidentiality agreement, before leaving. Some may also ask their employer to offer them a recommendation letter or tax documents. A responsible organization must ensure all legal steps are taken to comply with the law and keep the departing worker satisfied. Finally, don’t forget to update the organization chart, removing the old employee’s name and replacing it with a new one.

Hold Exit Interview

This may be the most important step during offboarding. The HR manager typically meets with the departing employee and asks them for their honest opinion regarding the company’s management style and any issues they may have encountered. Maybe they had conflicts with their co-workers, or they barely received the resources they needed to conduct their jobs properly. Feedback can be both positive and negative, and managers should be receptive to it. They should listen to people closely and show them that they care about their opinions. If someone doesn’t feel comfortable having a 1-on-1 interview, leaders can prepare a detailed questionnaire for them to fill out.


None of the above steps can be successful if managers and team leaders don’t have empathy and kindness towards the exiting employee. The latter may have chosen to leave the organization, but leading figures must show gratitude toward the time they spend with them and their achievements. This will ensure your company leaves a positive last impression that will enhance its image and perhaps leave the door open for a future return. Follow the steps we shared in this article to develop an effective employee offboarding strategy and ensure a smooth transition for your organization.

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