Saying goodbye to an employee isn’t as simple as just ending their contract and calling it a day.
It’s a formal process that involves knowledge transfer, asset recovery, and a whole lot more.
Proper offboarding will have multiple departments working together to ensure that every party gets the best possible outcome.
Let’s look at why offboarding is important and how your company can make sure to do it right.
What is offboarding?
In short, offboarding is everything that happens after the employee decides, or is asked, to leave the company.
It’s the yin to onboarding’s yang. While onboarding helps new employees get familiar with the company’s culture and its systems, offboarding ensures a smooth transition out of the company.
A well-executed offboarding sets the departing employee up for future success while protecting company interests and reputation.
Why proper offboarding matters
There are many good reasons to have a structured offboarding process.
1. Reputation management
Employees who leave the company are bound to have opinions about it.
Handling their departure in a positive and respectful manner will make employees far more likely to have positive things to say about the business.
In fact, it may even be a way to turn otherwise neutral employees into brand ambassadors.
2. Talent retention
It’s not uncommon for employees to come back to a company after a stint away. The Harvard Business Review found that as many as 28% of new hires were actually boomerang employees: those who left the company only to return later.
Offboarding staff in a mutually beneficial way paves the way for talented employees to consider getting rehired at a later date. This way, you increase the chance of ultimately keeping your most valuable workers.
3. Employees as customers
More often than not, employees are also users of your product or service. Keeping a positive atmosphere around someone’s departure helps you secure their future business.
But there are also important internal considerations at play, such as…
4. Maintaining security
Even when employees walk out the door, they leave behind digital remnants of their time at the company: user accounts, passwords to internal systems, files shared with external parties, and so on.
All of these are potential vulnerabilities that may leave you exposed to intentional cyber attacks or accidental data leaks.
IT offboarding takes care of revoking access to critical systems, unsharing sensitive files, and otherwise guaranteeing your company’s cyber security.
5. Knowledge sharing
The offboarding employee will have a wealth of knowledge about their area of responsibility. Capturing their insights and making sure there’s a properly trained internal replacement is critical to ensuring that your company continues to function without major disruptions once the employee leaves.
6. Gathering feedback
Offboarding is the perfect time to listen to a departing employee.
Not only is it the last chance to do so, but someone leaving the company is more likely to be candid when asked for constructive feedback. This is where “exit interviews” come into the picture, as we’ll see later.
7. Creating a healthy culture
But it’s not all about the employee leaving the company.
Those who remain want to feel they work for a company that appreciates its workers and approaches offboarding with respect. Properly handled offboarding will help your company foster a positive culture and put other workers at ease.
8. Ensuring compliance
Finally, there’s the non-trivial matter of abiding by local regulations governing employee termination.
Formal offboarding lets you ensure that you handle things in a legally responsible manner, pay employees what they’re owed promptly, and otherwise comply with any relevant laws.
The offboarding process
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to offboarding.
Some companies may offboard an employee within a few days, while others have processes that take weeks or even several months. It depends on a whole range of factors such as the notice period, complexity of the employee’s role, reasons for termination, and more.
With remote employees, your company may follow a self-guided checklist that asks the employee to bring in their equipment, unshare their files, etc. In a larger company with formalized procedures, you’ll have a more proactive, HR-guided approach.
While you may think that HR is the primary department responsible for offboarding, the reality is often a lot more complicated than that. Typically, at least the following roles will be involved:
1. Immediate manager
The employee’s direct manager is likely the first person to either hear or communicate that the employee is leaving. They’ll also be the ones to inform the team, the wider department, or even the rest of the organization about the upcoming departure.
It’s typically also the manager’s responsibility to find a suitable replacement for the employee and facilitate the knowledge transfer to set them up for success.
Unsurprisingly, HR takes care of the bulk of offboarding tasks. It’s their responsibility to handle the necessary paperwork, recover company property, and ensure legal compliance.
Apart from these mundane tasks, HR must also take care of the employee by recommending any outplacement or future employment opportunities, conducting the exit interview, and even maintaining contact with the employee after they leave the company, keeping the path open for future collaboration.
In the digital age, IT has an important role to play as well.
It’ll likely be the IT manager who’ll make sure to revoke the employee’s access from any internal IT systems, log them off any company social media accounts, unshare their externally shared files to prevent data leaks, and more.
They might also be the ones to handle any IT-related asset recovery, such as laptops, electronic keycards, smartphones, etc.
As you’d expect, finance teams are responsible for ensuring the last paycheck is paid on time and that the employee gets any other financial benefits they’re entitled to.
Offboarding best practices
Here are a few good tips to keep in mind during your offboarding process:
- Have an adjustable process: Build some flexibility into your offboarding, so you can accommodate different scenarios. For instance, a retiring employee won’t need the same focus on outplacement opportunities. Someone who’s been terminated with short notice should probably be fast-tracked through the IT asset recovery to ensure security. Remote employees should be given a helpful self-serve checklist. You get the picture.
- Use an offboarding checklist: This helps make sure that you don’t overlook any critical elements. It may even be wise to have separate checklists for each department: one for IT, one for HR, and so on.
- Use third-party tools: You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There’s plenty of dedicated software that makes offboarding easier. Companies like Tricent make unsharing externally shared files and folders easier, while other tools streamline or automate the offboarding process itself.
- Don’t neglect the exit interview: This gets overlooked more often than you’d think. About 1 in 4 companies do not have any form of exit interviews. But, as we highlighted, an exit interview is an invaluable chance to gather feedback from the employee and set a positive tone for a potential future relationship after they leave the company.
Streamline IT offboarding with Tricent
Don't let your IT offboarding process be a game of luck.
Tricent for Google Workspace simplifies aspects of this procedure by assisting you in:
- Easily locating any files managed by the departing staff member,
- Revoking access to their externally shared files to avoid unauthorized entry,
- By withdrawing the access of the offboarded employee's files from external entities, you're able to prevent unauthorized access and keep crucial internal resources intact.
With Tricent for Microsoft 365, you have the capability to identify all the orphaned files, folders, and teams, and remove their sharing permissions with a single click.