How to Manage the Employee Offboarding Experience

People leave companies – it’s a natural part of life, and it shouldn’t come with animosity or added stress. However, it often does. Emotions run high, and people can experience a wide range of negative feelings.

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way. A thorough employee offboarding experience can alleviate those problems. If you ask the right questions, nurture those departing, and uplift those sticking around, you’ll find the experience is much more tolerable.

Naturally, you want to start by acquiring the employee’s notice of resignation letter or email. It’s also customary to provide written acceptance of their resignation letter. Or, if the company is prompting the separation, you’ll want to present the employee with your decision and begin the offboarding process.

If things didn’t end on a good note, it’s best to pay out their two weeks, have them hand in their equipment, and make today their last day.

If it ended on good terms, then you’ll want to manage their final days with the company in as graceful a manner as possible. Here’s how to manage the employee offboarding experience:

Create a Communication Plan

Employee departures tend to affect more than those leaving the company. To quell any rumors and smooth over any sticky situations, it’s best to tell the team sooner rather than later. If you time it right, you can avoid any spreading of misinformation and reassure everyone that there’s nothing to worry about.

Too often, any uneasiness among the team finding out about an imminent departure of a peer comes from wondering how it all affects them. Thoughts range from:

  • Will they have to take on more responsibilities for a while?
  • What might those added duties entail?
  • When will a backfill be chosen for their position?
  • Are there possibilities for promotions now?
  • Why are they leaving? Should they think about leaving also?

The list goes on, and getting ahead of it puts you in control of the situation. If they need extra resources or support temporarily while taking on a higher workload, then clearly explain that. If the interview process is in progress or nearly complete, then get that out there also. Transparency goes a long way here.

Help Them Go Out on a High Note

You may not always be happy when an employee leaves, but the way you handle adversity is the precedent you set for your team. If you panic or seem unsure of the future, then they’ll follow suit. Alternatively, if you’re calm and confident, then for the most part, they’ll follow your lead.

Plus, there’s a strong chance the departing employee still has friends on the team, and if you talk poorly of them or treat them differently after giving notice, you’ll run the risk of harming your relationship with existing employees.

The best way to avoid such circumstances is to help them go out graciously. Schedule a little get together to say goodbye or a Zoom meeting if people are working remotely. Get them a goodbye card and have as many people sign it as possible. Order some drinks and reflect on the past.

If they’re leaving on good terms, offer to help them with a reference letter if they ever need it and do what you can to make sure they land on their feet after leaving the company.

If possible, give them a role of training their new replacement. Sometimes the best way for a good employee to make their exit is by making it easier on everyone else to handle the transition.

Make the Final Day Feel Seamless

The last day is always strange. There are always things they can still do to help the team, but there’s typically a cutoff time that makes sense. Plan on them leaving early that day and make it easy to hand in equipment, turn in keys or access cards, and handoff responsibilities.

Make sure management has access to all their work accounts. Sometimes customers will keep emailing former employees, and it’s good to get ahead of that. Also, make sure they get paid for all hours worked and, if applicable, any PTO accrued.

Ensure that they know when any applicable benefits will end and how to access any retirement or Health Spending Accounts (HSA) that the company set up.

Schedule the Exit Interview

The exit interview is a crucial piece of the offboarding process that many companies overlook. It’s arguably the most important event in the offboarding experience because it’s a chance to find ways to better your organization.

There are also some housekeeping aspects like reminding them of any privacy or non-compete clauses they signed. You can’t avoid that. However, the real shining moment is when you get to ask them questions. Some excellent questions to ask include:

  • What prompted you to start searching for another job?
  • Did you feel like our company gave you everything you needed to succeed?
  • Did your job change since you were hired?
  • Did you feel the company recognized your achievements and hard work?
  • If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing about your work, what would it be?

If you’re feeling good about the departure, you might even prompt them to share their experience on Glassdoor so other candidates can learn from their time at your company.

Tying up loose ends will make the whole process feel effortless for both you and the employee. Take note of all the steps it takes to offboard an employee and package them into a neat checklist, as you do with employee onboarding, that makes the whole process easier next time around.

What step would you add to managing the offboarding experience? Tell us in the comments below:

Sam Molony

Sam Molony is the marketing strategist at ZoomShift, the leading employee scheduling software. When Sam's not publishing or promoting new content you can find him playing his guitar or baking.

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