Offboarding is an important milestone, but it's not the final destination. Instead, it's a great opportunity for building employer branding, receiving valuable feedback, establishing fruitful long-term relationships, and strengthening corporate culture. What should you focus on when designing offboarding processes? We've gathered the key points!
There can be various reasons for an employee leaving a company. Sometimes, expectations on the employer's side didn't meet the results, but scenarios range from new career opportunities to personal life changes to retirement. Regardless of the triggering reason, one thing is certain: how offboarding is handled matters.
Offboarding refers to the process through which a company manages an employee's departure. What makes discussing offboarding crucial is that it often doesn't receive enough attention. Companies tend to allocate resources more towards recruitment and retention than the circumstances of an employee leaving. In addition to meeting the basic requirements (completion of paperwork, revoking access, handing over equipment, etc.), exit interviews are becoming more common. However, a truly well-structured and targeted offboarding process goes beyond this.
The closing, or detachment, process is a crucial part of the employee lifecycle, especially considering the recent changes in career paths and trajectories. It's becoming rarer for employees to work at one place for decades until retirement. Job changes and even changes in positions are more frequent. It's not uncommon for an employee to return to the same company or work intermittently as a consultant. So, it's important to bid farewell properly.
The way a company treats departing employees also communicates its authenticity and corporate culture to the remaining staff. Showing respect, appreciation, and saying goodbye to a colleague in line with known values sends a powerful message to others about where they work and whom they work with.
The transfer of knowledge can also be affected if offboarding goes awry. Ideally, it's better to conclude the collaboration at a significant milestone, but sometimes the departing employee needs to hand over tasks, projects, or clients to their successor. It's in the employer's best interest to support this process during the offboarding period, whether it involves filling the vacant position with a new hire or an existing team member. The remaining team members should also be aware of the details of the transition to avoid disruptions.
Every departing employee carries the company's reputation in one way or another. Negative opinions can typically be offset with more positive feedback, but it's not advisable to leave this to chance. There will always be unfavorable opinions and bad experiences, but if a company makes an effort to ensure that the "last impression" is friendly and fair, it can make a significant difference. This requires being proactive and establishing an offboarding process that promotes this.
The last positive impression can also be advantageous in recruitment processes. When former employees speak positively about their former workplace, it strengthens the employer brand. In the competition for relevant candidates, this is not a trivial consideration.
Feedback is crucial, regardless of the reasons for departure and the circumstances. The fact that an exiting employee's opinion matters sends a positive message to others, and it provides valuable insights into the organization's operations. It can highlight problems, areas for improvement, and reinforce successful practices.
However, exit interviews only make sense when questions are carefully crafted with a specific purpose and timing. It's best to conduct them a few days before or after the actual departure (and it should be accepted that not all departing employees will be willing to participate). If you create an online internal communication system where employees can fill out exit interviews, it offers more flexibility.
When conducting online exit interviews, consider how much time a departing employee is willing to spend on providing feedback. Therefore, create a questionnaire that can be completed within a reasonable and practical time frame.
The goal is not just to collect positive feedback but to obtain useful answers about the reasons for departure, workplace experiences, and other relevant topics. And it goes without saying that the answers should be acted upon. It's important to note that if answers from several exit interviews don't seem useful, it might indicate that the questions need revision. Gathering superficial, neutral answers during offboarding won't help achieve HR goals.
As part of the offboarding process, recognizing and acknowledging the departing employee's contributions, offering a friendly and respectful farewell, and presenting professional achievements are essential cultural values for a company. As mentioned earlier, these gestures are also noticed by current employees. They serve as positive examples and strengthen personal relationships.
This recognition can take various forms, such as a farewell letter from leadership, a small gathering at the workplace, a dinner, a farewell party, a symbolic gift, and more. Such acts of thoughtfulness and recognition are appreciated by everyone, and they show that the company has valued and respected the departing colleague's professional work and personal qualities.
Alumni programs are viable and beneficial practices in the workplace. They offer numerous advantages, from maintaining personal friendships and sharing professional knowledge to enhancing the company's reputation in the market. Moreover, they can foster commitment and retention among current employees.
An alumni network that connects former and current employees provides opportunities for closer, personal relationships. The positive impact of a colleague (whether personal or professional) remains significant even if they no longer work for the company. It contributes to team cohesion, community building, and can result in great events organized by the company through the alumni program.
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