Offboarding is an HR process that officially separates an exiting employee from their employer after they resign, their position is terminated, or they retire.
Employee offboarding is the final step in the employee lifecycle. The purpose of employee offboarding is to maintain positive relations with the exiting employee, ensure company security, transfer the employee’s knowledge to their replacement or team, minimize disruption, and collect feedback for the company. The process occurs during the last week of the departing employee’s employment, with most tasks completed on the last day, right before the employee leaves.
Offboarding vs. onboarding
Offboarding occurs at the end of the employment experience, while onboarding occurs at the beginning. Onboarding involves employee orientation, training, meeting new team members, and the like. Offboarding focuses on creating a smooth exit experience for employee as they leave the company.
While onboarding is your company’s chance to make a great first impression, offboarding is your company’s chance to make a great last impression.
Who leads the offboarding process?
The human resources team typically leads the offboarding process. Other team members may be involved, such as the exiting employee’s manager or members of leadership, depending on the exiting employee’s role and their reason for leaving the company.
Employee offboarding checklist
Complete these tasks to ensure your employee onboarding process ties up any loose ends:
Documentation: Get a formal letter of resignation from the departing employee or have the employee sign a letter of termination. These documents should officially state their employment end date and cause for termination (if applicable). Provide the departing employee with an outline of the offboarding process, so they know their responsibilities as they close out their employment
Knowledge transfer: Schedule time for the employee to document their processes and instructions for the team or their replacement. They may need to train their replacement and hand off specific files before they leave
Returning company property: Send the employee documentation that walks them through the process of returning company property (laptop, monitors, phone, parking pass, company vehicle, etc.)
Workflow: Remove the employee from your established workflows and processes and identify a replacement to cover their workload (a manager, peer, or new hire)
Payroll and benefits: Prepare the employee’s final paycheck, which may include unused vacation pay, unpaid bonuses and commissions, reimbursements, etc. Close out the employee’s benefits plan (provide benefits documents as required) and provide them with the necessary tax documents. Remove them from payroll once their final payment has been made
Accounts: Close down the employee’s work-related accounts (backup or export their data and work beforehand). Remove their access to the company’s internal communication channels, email accounts, third-party softwares, Google Drive, the company’s social media accounts, credit cards, ID badges, and access passes for the office
Public announcements: Update the company website and employee directory. Notify team members, external contacts, clients who worked with the employee and connect them with their replacement to ensure a smooth transition
Employee exit interview: Hold an exit interview to gain insights from the departing employee. Ask exit interview questions about why they’re leaving and request feedback on their team, manager, and company as a whole—what they liked, what the company can improve, and what you could’ve done to make them stay
Tell the employee when they can expect their final payment and, if applicable, the procedure for receiving severance pay. You may want to have the employee sign non-compete and non-disclosure forms at this time as well
What are the benefits of employee offboarding?
An organized employee offboarding process makes your HR department’s job easier, improves your employer brand, and ensures the exiting employee leaves on good terms.
Positive employee experiences
The departing employee should have a positive experience during their offboarding process. When a former employee leaves with a good impression of your company, it boosts your employer brand and encourages them to recommend your company to other talented individuals. It also shows your current employees that you’re prepared for an employee to depart, know how to manage the process, and care about their entire employee experience.
When you have proper offboarding procedures in place, you increase security for your company. An official offboarding checklist helps your HR team ensure all vital tasks are completed, minimizing security risks such as an ex-employee sharing proprietary information with their next employer or entering the office building without authorization.
Smooth transitions for the team
The offboarding process isn’t complete without a knowledge transfer between the departing employee and their team members or replacement. This transfer of knowledge allows exiting employees to prepare their co-workers for their departure so there’s minimal disruption to their team and productivity.
Learning opportunities for the company
Offboarding includes an exit interview where the departing employee provides their soon-to-be former employer with honest feedback about their employment experience. When these interviews are conducted in a welcoming and open manner, they’re fantastic opportunities to learn what your company, HR team, and managers can do to mitigate attrition and provide better employee experiences.
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