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Are You on Board With the Offboarding Process?

5 min read

Once you have hired someone and they’ve completed the process of employee onboarding, the rest is history, right? WRONG! Many employers fail to realise that the offboarding process is just as important as the onboarding process. It’s relatively common for the HR department to focus only on the first part of the employee’s lifecycle. Failing to understand the importance of offboarding and the resulting consequences if carried out incorrectly, is a huge mistake. 

We’re about to give you the low down on employee offboarding by explaining what is offboarding, why is offboarding important, and what are the key steps in the process of offboarding. 

Are you short on time, and just want the checklist for offboarding employees? 👇

✅Download Free Offboarding Checklist

*Includes checklist, exit interview questions, and company property inventory checklist.

Alright, now let’s dive in!

What is Offboarding?  

Offboarding is required when an employee leaves the company, either voluntarily or involuntarily. Although turnover in a company is rather common, many employers are still not prepared with how to handle an employee exit or even fully understand the importance of proper offboarding. 

The complexity of the process of offboarding generally depends on a few things:

  1. The reason for the exit – When an employee is fired, some steps in the process become more important than others. Therefore,  the process of offboarding will need to be adapted. In the case in which an employee is let go (or dismissed), it’s important to remember that when an employee is fired, documentation and record-keeping becomes crucial to mitigating risks.
  2. The position of the employee (ie. senior staff) – Employees who have been with the company longer, often require an extended offboarding.

Is the Offboarding process actually important? 

Although the offboarding process may seem unnecessary and an added task that time shouldn’t be ‘wasted’ on, it’s quite the opposite. The rewards of effective offboarding are huge. Also, the investment made through offboarding has shown to result in higher employee retention and a better engagement rate. 

Plain and simple, the proper offboarding plan helps HR managers better facilitate the transition on both sides. 

Creating an offboarding plan is crucial. Here are some of the main reasons why.

  • Mitigate financial losses – without an offboarding plan, situations can arise such as incorrectly continuing to pay benefits to employees no longer in the company. 
  • Maintain a good final impression – part your ways on the best terms. Make sure that the outgoing staff member leaves on good terms, feeling respected and appreciated for their work.
  • Manage legal issues – collecting and signing the proper documentation following a resignation or dismissal helps avoid the risk of lawsuits for unfair dismissal. It also ensures a smooth offboarding.
  • Manage logistics in the transition – who will take over once the employee has left, and how will the team handle the transition. These and more are the questions that will be answered in part of the offboarding procedure.
  • Gather feedback – outgoing employees are an incredible wealth of knowledge for the company. Listening to their suggestions for improvement will benefit the company greatly.

How to Offboard Employees: 11 Key Steps

These steps will differ slightly depending on the size of the company, the reason the employee is leaving, and the position the employee held. However, in general, here are 11 steps when it comes to offboarding.

1. Create an offboarding checklist (save time and download our free checklist!)

Our checklist covers all the steps we’re about to share in the employee offboarding process, exit interview questions, and a company property collection list.

2. Initial Documentation & Collection of Information

The first thing that needs to be done upon the news of an employee leaving is to have them sign a formal resignation letter. Following this, the HR manager or supervisor can review the documents the employee has signed throughout their time in the company. As an example, these may be non-disclosure agreements, benefit documents, etc.

Make sure that on the resignation letter, the employee clearly states when their last working day is, and the date they are communicating their leave.

Using an HR management system like Factorial HR, helps you easily store documents of terminated employees for better record keeping. 


3. Inform Accounting 

At this stage, you can inform accounting so they can prepare tax documents, the last payroll, calculate any outstanding reimbursements, holiday days, and prepare compensation if required.

4. Announce Departure 

Rather than wait for employees to start gossiping around the office, make sure that all employees who are impacted in a major way, as a result of the departure, will be informed. This is typically done, 1.5 weeks or more before the employee leaves, depending on their role within the team. Following this, other members of staff can be informed. 

As a courtesy, it’s best to ask the outgoing employee whether there is a specific way they would like the company to frame the news.

5. Plan Handoffs 

The important piece at this stage is to focus on the creation of a handoff plan to ensure the best possible transition. This plan is focused on wrapping up any existing tasks, whilst also laying the groundwork for the new employees entering into the role. A clear understanding of how to transition the workload and shift priorities is key! This is the stage of knowledge transfer

Important questions to ask while planning the handoff are: 

  • Who will be the replacement?
  • What will their training needs be?
  • Who will train the new employee?
  • Which projects need completion before the employee leaves?
  • What are the deliverables?

6. Client communication 

In the case the outgoing employee works directly with clients, it is vital that these clients be notified in due course. Also, in whichever way you decide to communicate this departure with the clients, it is best to approach the communication in a way that ensures each client knows they will continue to be taken care of, regardless of the change in staff.

7. Collect Company Property

During the employee’s time in the company, they may have acquired a number of company items. In the days before they leave, you will need to collect these items. Company property can be anything from computers, mobile devices, ID badge, uniform, keys, parking permits, or company credit cards among others. Our free inventory item checklist covers all the most common items you will need to collect from outgoing employees. Download the checklist now!

8. Exit Interview

The purpose of an exit interview is to gain valuable feedback on the employee’s experience while with the company. This is the company’s last opportunity to make a positive impression. From the exit interview, you can also gather information from the employee that will help the management team make better decisions in the future. 

Which questions should you ask? ✔️ Download our free offboarding checklist to reveal the answers.

Asking the right questions will provide management with valuable information and insights for the company, into their strengths and weaknesses, and how they can improve.

9. Revoke Account Access

No matter how good of a relationship you have with the outgoing employee, for security reasons, they should no longer have access to emails, platforms, and other company databases when they leave.

10. Farewell 

Although depending on the reasons for the departure, a farewell is always a good idea for each and every employee. This type of sendoff ensures a positive impression is left for both the employee leaving and the existing staff. 

Show the employee that you have valued their contribution to the team. This can be done by giving them a gift, writing a thank you from the team or even throwing a party for them. 

On the last day, it is advisable to send a farewell announcement, as a reminder to the rest of the team to wish the outgoing employee a good farewell. 

11. Follow-up

It’s never a good idea to burn bridges. For this reason, it’s advisable to keep in touch with the employee, even if it is only via LinkedIn. Maintaining a positive relationship even following the departure of an employee is always to your benefit. 

Well, there you have it, 11 key steps of the offboarding process. As we are sure you are now aware, the proper process of offboarding ensures a smooth transition for both parties. If you haven’t yet downloaded our offboarding template checklist to help you facilitate employee offboarding, now is your chance. 

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