Ease on Down: The Importance of Offboarding Your Employees

Onboarding is an integral part to any new hire’s experience—for both the new hire and the organization. It’s important for the new hire, so as to ease them into the company and their role; and it’s equally important for the team they’re joining, so as to introduce them to the new hire and the new structure of the team with an additional member. At its most basic reasoning, onboarding is a way to get everyone on the team—new and tenured—accustomed to a new setup.

If we place so much importance on the idea of getting teams accustomed to a new member, why do we let the ball drop so frequently when a team member is hitting the road for new horizons?

When employees leave a company, they create as much of a ripple effect of change as adding new employees does—if not more.

Offboarding is the process of easing employees out of their role, the same as onboarding is easing employees into a role. As tempted as you might be to give your employee best wishes and send them on their way, your employees are ingrained into your company. They are a part of your processes and ingrained into your company. Offboarding offers you the chance to not only wrap up any loose ends, but to make sure the pieces of your company they had their hands in don‚Äôt begin to crumble in their absence.

You may already know the importance of offboarding, but you just aren‚Äôt sure of how to begin this process; or you‚Äôre just so overwhelmed by the idea of formally offboarding that you figure all the issues will iron themselves out in the end. But when you leave the issues to iron themselves out, you risk a few bigger problems: your employees leaving on bad terms that aren‚Äôt addressed, employees taking important information with them and not leaving it behind, leaving your current employees feeling frustrated, or tasks that simply just don‚Äôt get done any longer because no one else knew the departing employee was performing it to begin with.

So, how do you avoid running into any of these speed bumps without pulling driving yourself crazy trying to cut ties with employees? Here‚Äôs a quick rundown of must-haves for offboarding processes:

  1. Get the departing employee to write down all of their duties, not just that they are performing now, but tell them to go back and think about once-a-year tasks they may perform that could get lost in the mix. This will ensure their day-to-day tasks are picked up efficiently, but also all parts of their role are being filled in by someone else.
  2. Make sure your team knows that the employee is leaving. Peers have a better idea of what’s going on “in the weeds” and they’ll have a different perspective than you as a leader when it comes to making sure all the cracks are filled in.
  3. Does the departing employee handle any account management or have external contacts under your company‚Äôs name? Let those contacts know as soon as possible. Again, if your employee had a relationship with a client, the client is going to have a better perspective than you as a leader to what needs they‚Äôll have from whoever the replacement is. It‚Äôs just common courtesy for the people who are paying your business to operate.
  4. Have an exit interview between the employee and their direct manager(s). This should be a dedicated session where the leader(s) can hear of any struggles the employee had while at the company, as well as any issues the departing employee can foresee coming up in their absence.
  5. Get a forwarding address. This can be an awkward request, because the employee might be ready to cut all ties, but if your relationship with the employee has been a good one, express your ability to withhold on texting them daily, but your need to be able to come to them if you find a stone left unturned.
  6. As soon as the employee is gone, begin the erasure process. With most workplaces having multiple digital platforms, this means your employees have password access to company information. When an employee leaves, as much as you trust them and still might even have a relationship with them, it‚Äôs just good business due process to begin changing passwords and revoking their access to accounts. You might also trust your mom, but you wouldn‚Äôt give her access to your company‚Äôs Facebook page.

Of course, rules might be different if employees leave on bad terms, but for the most part an offboarding process isn‚Äôt just recommended, but should be an integral part of how you say goodbye to employees. You‚Äôre laying the groundwork for a good post-employer/employee relationship by walking through these steps, and, most importantly, you‚Äôre making sure the change of an employee leaving doesn‚Äôt rock the world of your team.

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