HR Processes

How to Design Your Employee Offboarding Process

 22nd October 2021  About 6 min read
How to Design Your Employee Offboarding Process

All things are bound to end, and employment is no exception.

Maybe an employee is retiring for good. Maybe they’re moving on to another step in their career. Regardless of the reason, it will inevitably happen. 

If you’re unprepared, an employee’s resignation can catch you off-guard or leave them feeling underappreciated and dissatisfied, ultimately hurting your company’s branding.

To facilitate a smooth transition for you and your employees, you need a dedicated offboarding process. In this article, we’ve prepared nine things you should keep in mind when designing your employee offboarding process.

Are you ready? Let’s dive in.

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9 tips for a smooth employee offboarding process

Even before an employee could hand in their notice, you should already have your offboarding process planned out. Here are the top things to keep in mind. 


1. Conduct a review and document responsibilities

If you’re in an established company, it’s likely that you already have some systems in place. It could be a comprehensive document, or even just traditions that aren’t codified yet into rules.

In any case, reviewing and documenting the employee’s duties will be crucial for handoff and ensuring there are no gaps filled in your operations when they leave. 

When documenting responsibilities, it’s best to rely on multiple sources in addition to the employee’s own assessment. Talk to their manager, review the original job description, assess any new potential needs and revisit any big projects or areas they worked in.


2. Create a physical items and digital accounts checklist 

Make sure that you have a return checklist on hand for the departing employee. The list should include key physical assets that have been assigned for the employee to use, care for, or govern. This can include:

  • Laptops and other gadgets
  • Company keys
  • Credit cards
  • IDs and badges
  • Uniforms

More importantly, you have to revoke their access to your company’s digital accounts and assets. This can include:

  • Cloud services
  • Company websites
  • Company pages
  • Blogs
  • Calendars
  • Contact directories

Taking note of all company property given, assigned, or loaned to employees right from the start can make this job much more manageable. 


3. Plan the knowledge transfer

The longer an employee has worked for your company and the higher their position is, the bigger the chances that they’ve accumulated a vast deposit of institutional knowledge that is extremely valuable to your operations.

If you don’t want your next hire to start from scratch and potentially slow everybody down, you need to have a plan on how to transfer the departing employee’s knowledge to whoever will be replacing them.

One way to do this is by creating a detailed form for the departing employee to fill up. It could include something like:

  • Step-by-step routines
  • Daily tasks according to priority
  • Best practices, whether formal or informal
  • Methods for doing projects, assignments, and reports
  • Important documents that have to be read and understood
  • Regular business contacts
  • Other skills and systems they believe are essential for the job

You can also ask the departing employee to assist in the onboarding process of the new hire. 


4. Prepare documents related to the termination

If you’re formally letting go of an employee, there may be existing contracts and clauses to update, especially if a high-level executive is leaving.

One good reason for this is avoiding possible disputes and bottlenecks in the future. You don’t want to end up in a position where a supplier or government contract can only be signed by someone who has long left your company. 

Coordinate with relevant departments in your company and draw up a list of needed documents to sign or update. This could include contracts, NDAs, outstanding reimbursements, legal documentation, and tax forms.


5. Conduct an exit interview 

Exit interviews are an important step in any offboarding process.

An exit interview has two main benefits: one, it can aid in the knowledge transfer process, and two, it can be a great way to get honest feedback from the departing employee.

Getting honest feedback from current employees can be hard because nobody wants to say anything that can potentially cost them their job or make them look bad. However, a departing employee has little reason to be dishonest about their feedback, especially if they know that the responses will be completely confidential.

Ask them how their experience at your company was like, what issues they encountered, and what they think still needs improvement.


6. Communicate with all relevant parties

Communication is one of the most critical aspects of an offboarding process.

You need to communicate not just with the departing employee but also with all the relevant parties. This usually includes finance, IT, and the employee’s own department. You can also include their superiors, close coworkers, or clients that they’ve closely worked with in the past.

A simple email announcing their departure and any other related events should suffice. 


7. Revoke access to all company assets

With the resignation or retirement made official, you can now start revoking their access to all company assets.

Use the checklist you prepared beforehand to ensure that you don’t forget anything. As mentioned, the list includes material company assets, such as ID badges, credit cards, and parking passes, and digital company assets, like company accounts and databases. 


8. Make a good last impression

You have only one chance to make an otherwise boring and institutional process of offboarding memorable and colourful for your leaving employee. This is the part where you throw a farewell party, give them a token gift, or write them a note of gratitude.

Aside from treating your employee with dignity and respect, letting them go on a good note can also improve your company branding and workplace morale.


9. Maintaining the connection

So, you’ve made sure that the employee is leaving your company on a good note. That’s great, but what’s next?

Don’t be so quick to remove the departing employee from your business entirely. Ideally, your professional relationship with them shouldn’t end when they leave your company. 

Even if employees are not a part of your team anymore, there are still some benefits to be had from having a good professional relationship.

One example has already been discussed above. Since they are a source of accumulated institutional knowledge, you can tap into this when training new employees. 

In addition to that, they already know your company culture, ethics, and work environment, which means they can be a source of high-quality referrals.

Plus, they could even be the next recruit themselves. Boomerang employees–workers who left their companies but eventually came back–are becoming increasingly common across various industries.

So think about organising an alumni group, send a birthday card or just check in with them on LinkedIn every once in a while. 


Designing Your Employee Offboarding Process

Your employee offboarding process is just as crucial as your onboarding process – both of them require you to be responsible and equitable when dealing with incoming or outgoing employees. 

In doing so, you help make them feel appreciated, improve your employer branding and you mitigate the risk of many potential issues you may encounter after the employee is gone.