Your Complete Offboarding Checklist
People may depart a company for a number of reasons, be it voluntary or involuntary, personal or professional, with little notice or a lot of advance notice. Life happens.
Whatever the reason — resignation, termination, or retirement — offboarding is a necessary step of an employee's journey at a company.
Bidding farewell to departing employees is the last opportunity a company gets to leave a positive impression. If done successfully, they leave feeling valued, you reduce legal and security risks, and can recover vital assets and information.
In this article, we answer the questions:
- What is offboarding?
- Why is offboarding important?
- How do I offboard employees in 10 easy steps?
We'll give you a complete offboarding checklist, which you can use to ensure your offboarding process is as effective as possible. Let's dive in!
What is Offboarding?
Offboarding is a formal process during which a company parts ways with one of its employees due to resignation, termination, or retirement.
A proper offboarding process will include:
- Transferring Responsibilities
- Revoking Company Access
- Retrieving Company Assets
- Conducting Exit Interviews
Offboarding is the opposite of onboarding, i.e., the formal process when a company first hires an employee. Whereas onboarding aims to welcome new team members and familiarize them with their new roles, offboarding aims to give departing employees a smooth exit while preparing the company they're leaving for future success.
Why is Offboarding Important?
Formal onboarding processes have become more popular in recent years. It's not surprising. Countless studies show that giving new hires a warm welcome boosts their productivity and satisfaction levels, leading to a better employee experience and less turnover.
Offboarding, on the other hand, hasn't received the same amount of fanfare. This is unfortunate, as a formal offboarding process can also benefit your company.
A Better Reputation
Your company's reputation is essential—especially when it comes to attracting new talent.
To make sure potential candidates view your organization in a positive light, you need to prioritize offboarding. Doing so will help ensure former employees can become advocates for your brand.
The last thing you want is for a disgruntled employee to give your company a one-star rating because 86% of job seekers read reviews before they decide to apply for a job. This means that bad reviews will limit your ability to hire excellent employees in the future.
Employees leave companies for a variety of reasons: they want to work remotely, they need more growth opportunities, they're offered a position that pays more money—the list goes on.
Just because an employee leaves your company today doesn't mean they'll never work for you again. According to Workplace Trends, 15% of employees return to work for a former employer. This is known as "boomeranging" and is more likely if you commit to parting on good terms..
Boomerang employees are often ideal because they're a known quantity. You won't have to wonder, "Can this person do the job?" or "Will they fit into our company culture?" You already know them, and they already know you.
Departing employees have a lot of company knowledge in their heads—knowledge that would benefit the person you hire to fill their shoes. A formal offboarding process will allow you to collect said knowledge before the employee officially leaves.
Imagine how much more productive a new employee will be when they can simply follow the steps and directions of their predecessor rather than inventing their own processes.
Ways to Improve
As mentioned above, employees leave their jobs for different reasons. If you can figure out why your employees leave, you can eliminate these reasons, thereby boosting your retention rate.
This is important because employee turnover is expensive. It costs a lot of money to advertise, recruit, hire, and train new team members. In fact, Gallup found that it can cost 0.5x-2x an employee's annual salary to replace them.
To keep your company's money in its bank account, building a thorough offboarding process allows you to learn why employees leave. Then you can implement feedback and fix any issues you discover.
Offboard Employees in 10 Easy Steps
Now that we know what offboarding is and why it's important, let's go through the offboarding checklist. Here are 10 things you should do before saying goodbye to former team members.
1. Thank the Ex-Employee
First things first, thank the departing employee for their efforts. They've invested a lot of time and energy into your company. Let them know how much you appreciate them.
If they're leaving to accept a better position at a different company, congratulate them on the opportunity, even though it means they won't be working for you anymore.
These simple things will ensure your offboarding process starts on the right foot. The best part is that both are extremely easy to accomplish and completely free. Win!
2. Communicate With Your Team
Next, communicate with your team and tell them about their colleague's impending departure.
The sooner you do this the better, so you can axe company gossip before it starts. You know what we're talking about…
"Did you hear that Employee XYZ is leaving?"
"Oh, yeah. I heard they got fired!"
"Oh my gosh, really? I had no idea…"
Once the rumor mill gets going, it's hard to stop. Tell your team about an employee's departure as soon as possible so that the truth can spread before gossip.
A "tell now" policy will also give your remaining team members a chance to prepare themselves for any extra work they may be asked to complete until a new hire is made.
3. Facilitate a Knowledge Transfer
As mentioned above, departing employees know things. To ensure the success of future hires, make sure you conduct a knowledge transfer so that these things don’t leave with their departure.
Here are a few questions to ask an employee before he or she leaves:
- What does your daily schedule look like?
- Which tasks do you prioritize above others?
- What systems and files do you use on a regular basis?
- How do you access these systems and files?
- Who are your main collaborators, both inside and outside the company?
- What processes do you go through regularly, and how do you conduct them?
If possible, ask departing employees to document as many things as possible. This is super easy to do with a tool like Tango. All they'll have to do is turn the tool on, run through their processes, and let Tango capture the details. Give it a try here.
This step of the offboarding checklist is super important. Get the information you need before the employee's last day because you'll have a tough time getting it after that.
4. Recover Company Assets
It's hard to believe, but companies often forget to recover their assets when their employees leave their organizations. This can be a costly mistake.
Make sure you recover your company's property. This includes everything from company badges and uniforms to laptops, credit cards, and vehicles. If it belongs to your organization, ensure it's returned at the end of each employee's tenure.
The easiest way to recover property is to make it someone's responsibility.
Ask an HR rep or an IT professional (for technology-related equipment) to ensure company assets are returned. At the very least, keep a list of assets assigned to each employee and ask for them back before said employees go off to explore other opportunities.
5. Update Systems Access
Once you've recovered all of your company's assets from the departing employee, revoke their systems access. Here's a list of systems to check:
- Email Platforms
- Intranet Solutions
- CRM Tools
- Social Media Accounts
- Content Databases
- Sales Dashboards
And anything else that includes essential company information. People outside of your organization don't need access to these things. Carefully scan your company's tech stack and ensure that departing employees' access is revoked from every tool.
6. Host an Exit Interview
By now, most of the critical offboarding checklist items have been handled.
You've thanked the departing employee for their service, communicated with your team, facilitated a knowledge transfer, recovered company assets, and revoked access to company systems. What's next? Now it's time to host an exit interview.
An exit interview is exactly what it sounds like: an interview that happens right before an employee leaves, AKA exits, an organization.
Exit interviews allow companies to learn what they're doing right and where they can improve. As such, they're essential. Here are a couple of tips to get them right:
- Ask a neutral party, such as an HR rep, to host the exit interview. This will encourage departing employees to talk more freely, as they might not feel comfortable speaking ill of a former boss and/or colleagues. They won't have as many inhibitions when talking to someone they didn't have a genuine relationship with.
- Listen to the feedback you receive. This isn't easy. Nobody wants to hear about their shortcomings. But if you want to improve, you must listen to other people's opinions about your work, leadership style, company culture, etc.
7. Update Your Org Chart
Does your company have an organizational chart? Make sure you update it after an employee leaves. Once the vacant role is filled, revise it again with the new hire's information. This will ensure internal communication continues to flow.
Since we're on the topic, update all company materials that include the departing employees' information. This includes your company's website, sales brochures, etc.
8. Send Final Payment
Send departing employees their final paycheck, then remove them from your company's payroll. You'd be surprised how many organizations forget to do this.
We know you appreciate your employees, but paying them to work for someone else is crazy. It happens, though, which is why it's one of our offboarding checklist items. Only pay your employees for their efforts on behalf of your company!
9. Offer Exit Documentation
The kind of documentation you provide will depend on the employee's departure circumstances and personal preferences. At the very least, expect to give them final pay details, a certificate of service, and previously agreed upon contracts.
If you enjoyed working with the departing employee and ask for a reference, we suggest giving them this, too, as it will help you part on good terms. Speaking of…
10. Keep in Touch
Just because an employee leaves your organization doesn't mean you can't interact with them anymore. You should keep in touch if you're able.
By staying in touch, you leave the door open to future employment opportunities, since you never know what may happen later. We have already discussed the benefits of boomerang employees. Make it easy for ex-employees to boomerang back to you by sending them the occasional email or message on LinkedIn.
Ex-employees can also send quality candidates your way, drastically reducing the time and expense it takes to find, vet, and hire new team members.
There you have it, a complete offboarding checklist.
In a perfect world, you'd never have to part ways with your employees. They would be the best at their respective jobs, work hard, and never pursue other opportunities. But we don't live in a perfect world, so offboarding is essential to your company's success.
To ensure your offboarding process is effective, implement each offboarding checklist item mentioned in this article. You'll be glad you did!