An employee leaving your company is an important event that has wide-ranging effects. Figuring things out as you go along increases the risk of mistakes and a poor experience. To ensure you handle the departure appropriately, it’s helpful to create an offboarding checklist.
This will ensure you follow a consistent process with each employee and never miss any crucial steps — no matter if the offboarding is due to resignation, redundancy, dismissal, or retirement.
What Is Offboarding?
Before going further, it’s necessary to clarify the definition of offboarding. Put simply, offboarding is any process you use to manage an employee exiting your company.
This may begin when an employee submits a resignation letter or announces a planned retirement. Alternatively, it could be when you inform an employee of upcoming layoffs or a termination.
Offboarding should end on the employee’s last day at your company.
The Onboarding Process vs the Offboarding Process
The steps you take to introduce someone new to your company is called the onboarding process. Businesses tend to dedicate far more time creating programs for onboarding than for offboarding — about eight times as much, in fact.
This is likely because welcoming a new employee to your company is exciting, whereas saying goodbye can be unpleasant to think about.
Should You Have an Offboarding Policy?
There are several reasons why every organization needs to have an official offboarding policy:
- Prevent knowledge gaps. Your employee needs to impart knowledge to the team members who will be remaining. This will ensure your company continues to run as smoothly as possible.
- Improve branding. Every employee is a potential brand ambassador. If an employee leaves on good terms, you’ll receive positive publicity for your business.
- Gain referrals for new talent. Maintaining a relationship with an employee who leaves also increases the odds that the employee will refer talent to your organization. Referrals often lead to some of the best hires.
- Reduce legal and security threats. Offboarding employees improperly could put you at risk of legal action. Alternatively, a disgruntled employee may decide to share your intellectual property with a competitor. This is more common than you may think — one survey found that 20 percent of organizations suffered data breaches due to a lack of offboarding.
- Receive candid feedback. Part of the offboarding process should be an exit interview. This is a great chance to find out how your business could improve going forward. Employees who are leaving the company are more likely to share honest feedback than people who are going to continue working for you.
- Increase the rate of boomerang employees. An employee whom you rehire at a later date is called a boomerang employee. It’s great for your business to have a worker return who is familiar with your operations and knows other people on the team. This may happen if you open a more appealing position in the future or if an employee is just taking a hiatus for personal reasons (such as parental leave or temporarily living somewhere else).
- Keep your team in the loop. Large teams may be unaware that an employee is leaving until it’s happening. It’s important to keep everyone informed to prevent false rumors and low morale. You can also use the occasion to show those who remain that you value them and that they have no reason to fear for their own jobs.
Offboarding Employee Checklist
You should put the same amount of time and effort into designing your offboarding policy as you did your onboarding process. Create a checklist specific to your organization that includes all the following elements.
Notification to Appropriate Departments
The first thing to do is notify necessary staff members that the employee is leaving. Depending on your business structure, this could mean informing the HR, payroll, IT, and administration departments.
You should also either send out a company-wide email or hold a meeting with just those who work directly with the employee. Use this as an opportunity to explain the reason for the employee’s departure and to provide individual team members with the information they’ll need going forward.
For instance, they may have new responsibilities or need to report to someone else. It may be appropriate to have an informal meeting, such as over lunch, and to present the employee with a card or gift.
There are several pieces of paperwork you’ll need to complete as part of the offboarding process. This is likely to include:
- Arrangements of the final paycheck, and possibly post-employment payment
- Documentation relating to the employee’s 401 (k), vacation and PTO balances, health insurance, and other benefits
- Non-disclosure and non-compete agreements
- Tax documentation
- Any reimbursements you still owe the employee
Transfer of Knowledge
It’s important to make a note of all the areas you’ll need to cover in the knowledge transfer, as it’s easy to forget something. Your checklist should include tasks the employee still needs to complete (along with their status and priority), records, contacts, and useful resources.
Send the employee a list of everything you need with as much notice as possible in an offboarding email.
If you’ve already found a replacement who will start working for you before the employee leaves, the transfer of knowledge should include coaching the successor.
If you’re hiring from outside the company and the new employee won’t start until later, it may be worth asking your employee to create a document or video detailing standard operating procedures.
Your offboarding checklist should include questions you’ll ask in the exit interview and how you’ll process the answers. You can create a template for interview questions or provide employees with a questionnaire.
Whatever you choose, make sure you ask employees why they are leaving, if they have any ideas for how the business could improve, and for their overall opinion of the company. You also need to have a process in place for analyzing information and creating an action plan.
Employee File for References
There’s a high chance you’ll need to provide references for your employee, perhaps even several years later. To ensure you’re able to provide relevant information, keep a file about your employee that contains details about skills, abilities, character, and other attributes.
To prevent a data breach, end the permissions the employee has to your internal resources. You can revoke access by either deleting the employee’s accounts or changing passwords. Having a list of all the resources employees may have access to will ensure you don’t overlook anything.
Returning Company Property
An employee may also be in possession of the physical property, such as an access card, uniform, binders, a company credit card, a computer, a cell phone, and other equipment. Make sure you also recover any ID or badges before the employee leaves the building for the last time.
Updates and Redirects
Finally, your offboarding checklist should specify what you may need to update after an employee leaves, such as payroll, your business directory, your organizational chart, and the company website. You may also need to redirect any calls or emails the employee receives from clients, suppliers, and other contacts to whoever will now be responsible for these.
Offboarding Best Practices
Finally, there are a few offboarding best practices to follow to make the most of your new policy.
Thank the Employee
Unless the employee is leaving as a disciplinary measure, make sure to express your gratitude for everything the employee has contributed to your organization. Always wish employees the best on the next stage in their journey and congratulate those who are moving on to new positions.
Find Someone Neutral to Conduct the Exit Interview
If you decide to hold a face-to-face interview (rather than to use a questionnaire), make sure you delegate the task to someone who can take a neutral stance. A manager from HR is often ideal. Never use the employee’s own manager, though, as many resignations are due to problems with a supervisor rather than an issue with the job or with the company as a whole.
Stay in Touch with Former Employees
Whether you hope the employee will one day return to your company or you could benefit from referrals (such as if an experienced employee is retiring), put in the effort to stay in touch. Reach out occasionally and invite your former employees to big company-wide events.
When an employee leaves, it’s often necessary to fill the position to recover the skills or manpower you’ve lost.
Whereas you could hire someone again, a better alternative is often to outsource the work. With a virtual assistant, you can delegate complex activities, like social media strategy, graphic design, and customer service, as well as all the routine and administrative tasks your team has.
This will free up your remaining employees to focus on core business activities. Receive a virtual assistant with the experience you need from MYVA360 by scheduling a consultation.