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Glossary: HR & Recruiting Definitions

What is offboarding?

Offboarding refers to the process and steps taken from the moment an employer and employee decide to part ways. The employee offboarding process should always be followed, regardless of the reason for separation (e.g. resignation, retirement, or involuntary termination).

An effective offboarding process ensures a smooth and, ideally, positive separation for both the employee and the company.

What does offboarding mean?

Offboarding is the process that includes all the steps and tasks to be taken as soon as the decision has been made that an employer and employee will separate. This could be due to resignation, termination, or retirement.

The employee offboarding process includes, but is not limited to, the following tasks:

  • Revoke access to company accounts and passwords
  • Recover company equipment and assets
  • Reassign any tasks and responsibilities to other employees
  • Request feedback via an exit interview and/or survey

More about what should be included in the offboarding process further below.

Why is offboarding important?

Although most companies have an onboarding process in place, many forget to create an offboarding process. Yet an effective and well-thought-out offboarding process is just as important.

Here are the five main reasons why every company should have an offboarding process in place.

1. Secure and regulated separation

The offboarding process ensures that all the necessary administrative work is dealt with and nothing is forgotten. This includes examples like recovering a company laptop and revoking access to company accounts, but also ensuring any leftover annual leave or unpaid salary is correctly compensated.

Having all such steps written down in a clear offboarding process reduces the risk of accidentally forgetting about (potentially harmful) parts of ending an employer-employee relationship. This includes following strict GDPR protocols and guidelines to ensure compliance.

2. Future learnings

An effective offboarding process includes receiving feedback from the employee that’s leaving the company. This could be done via a separate survey or as part of the exit interview.

By asking the employee about their experience with and perception of the company, the company can learn what they are doing well and what can be improved. This can help the business learn from past mistakes and ensure they do better in the future.

3. Boomerang employees

By providing a positive offboarding experience, the employer and employee are more likely to separate on good terms. This can increase the chances of the employee becoming a so-called boomerang employee in the future.

A boomerang employee is a worker who leaves a company but is rehired later down the line. Such rehires are preferred by businesses as they can save a lot of time, effort, and money in terms of talent acquisition, interviewing, and onboarding.

4. Employee experience and employer branding

Although the employee is leaving, offboarding is still an important part of the employee experience. Companies should want the experience to be as good as possible and once the employee leaves, they do so with a favourable impression of the business.

This increases the chances of the employee leaving a positive review on platforms such as Glassdoor or referring the company to job seekers within their network. This all helps improve the employer branding as well.

5. Company culture

An employee leaving a company will always have an impact on your team, one way or another. By providing a smooth, structured, and positive employee offboarding experience, a company can reduce disruption and damage to the rest of the team.

This, in turn, helps maintain a strong company culture.

What to include in the offboarding process

The employee offboarding process should be well-structured, detailed, and tailored to the company in question, as every organisation has its own, unique ways of working.

That said, there are certain elements and best practises that should be included in any offboarding process.

Parts to include in the offboarding process:

  • Documentation of the contract termination in the form of a formal (signed) letter of resignation.
  • Check any contracts or NDAs that may be in place to ensure everything is in order and ready for separation.
  • Ensure all accounting and administrative affairs are in order (compensation, tax documentation, benefits, remaining annual leave, etc.)
  • Retrieve any company equipment or assets (laptop, phone, ID badge, keys, company cards, etc.) and return/remove any personal items from the office.
  • Schedule an exit interview with the employee. Potentially also include a questionnaire or survey where they can provide further feedback.
  • Update the direct team first, before announcing it to the entire company and any external clients or customers. Also update the company organisational chart.
  • Prepare a handover of tasks and responsibilities with the persons taking over. This can include a variety of stakeholders, typically including the line manager and direct team members.
  • Also prepare handover of documents and assets currently owned or only accessible by the employee (e.g. changing ownership of Google Drive folders, so no information gets lost).
  • Delete any employee accounts, revoke access, change passwords, and follow any further data handling guidelines (such as those required by the GDPR).

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