Better employee offboarding is your secret weapon for engagement

Linn Cedergårdh
February 13, 2023
Better employee offboarding is your secret weapon for engagement

Jack loves your organisation. He’s a vibrant contributor to your culture, ahelpful, friendly colleague, and an important part of your success story. But after several years, he’s ready for a change.

What now?

For many businesses, the unfortunate answer is that Jack suddenly becomes a persona non grata. His accesses and equipment are unceremoniously revoked; he’s transitioned away from critical projects and clients; perhaps he’s not even thanked for his contributions.   

So instead of leaving feeling grateful and positive about your organisation, Jack feels disappointed; let down. Like he meant nothing to you all along.

That’s a poor last impression for departing employees. And given the Big Resignation paved the way for lots of employees waving goodbye to their employer, it’s a problem worth getting a handle on. Here’s why better employee offboarding matters and how to fix it.

What is employee offboarding?

Employee offboarding is the process of supporting an employee to leave their role or company, aiming to make the transition as smooth as possible for all sides. Offboarding happens whenever any employee moves on (regardless of their exit reason) and involves:

• Recovering company equipment

• Closing log-ins and revoking digital access

• Finalising HR and employment paperwork

• Removing employee info from company materials

• Handing over projects and transferring knowledge

• Conducting exit interviews

• Issuing offboarding surveys

• Thanking employees for their service

• Leaving drinks 🍻

When most organisations think about offboarding, it’s the admin and compliance elements that typically get the most attention. Understandably, given the high costs of getting this stuff wrong.

But offboarding shouldn’t be purely an exercise in risk management. Employee engagement and wellbeing doesn’t stop mattering at this final stage of the employee lifecycle. These latter elements—exit interviews, offboarding surveys, leaving drinks, and so on—are just as important as protecting the business from data breach risks and taking back equipment. Let’s talk about why.

Why does employee engagement matter during offboarding?

You never forget a first impression. And you don’t forget a final impression either. No matter how great an employee’s experience has been throughout their stay, a negative offboarding experience can sour the relationship—and sends a strong message to your remaining employees. If you genuinely care about building a culture of feedback, offboarding must be a positive experience that...

Protects your employer brand: Former employees can be a major contributor to your reputation, both through reviews and word-of-mouth. Great offboarding turns your former employees into ambassadors, not detractors.  

Generates referrals: Happy former employees can become a great source for referrals – and a great referrals channel can protect the business from recruitment turbulence, becoming a robust and reliable source of hire.

Safeguards team morale: Exiting employees still have a big impact on the people around them, and a positive experience helps mitigate turnover’s potential impact on morale.

Smoothes project handovers: A positive offboarding experience can help to decrease one of the biggest costs of turnover - the cost of disruption to projects and lost intellectual capital.

Maintains productivity: When departing employees work notice on good terms, they’re more invested in completing projects successfully and there’s less disruption for everyone around them.

Protects client loyalty: In many businesses, client loyalty hinges more on a relationship with an individual employee than the business as a whole. When employees leave on good terms, they’re less likely to incite clients to follow them out the door.

Rehires great people: Most organisations today recognise the importance of culture fit for successful recruitment. Who’s a better fit than someone who was once a part of that culture? ‘Boomerang’ hiring has become increasingly common, seeing organisations rehiring former employees who’ve left on good terms, built their experience elsewhere, then returned to add more value.

Strengthens your people-first culture: Your people are watching how you treat their departing peers. How you treat employees when they’re not ‘useful’ to you anymore sends a clear message about the organisation’s ethos and priorities. One that can strengthen or undermine the culture you want to build.

Illuminates engagement blind spots: When an employee chooses to leave, they bring insights you can’t get from employees who are choosing to stay. Why are they leaving? What push and pull factors contributed? Gathering these insights can help you understand what your organisation can do to strengthen your employee value proposition and guard against future turnover.

Want to find out the main reasons to why star employees decide to quit, and get advice on how to retain them? Read our latest report, Fighting Turnover: What matters the most to employees in 2023.

Handling offboarding effectively might have been less important, back in a world where loyalty was a tacit condition of employment. But in today’s world, almost every organisation has a steady stream of outgoing employees. But turnover doesn’t need to be inevitably bad. Taking an intentional and positive approach to employee offboarding can turn your exits into opportunities.

What makes a great offboarding survey?

A great offboarding survey is a critical piece of the offboarding puzzle. It sets the tone of an employee’s final weeks with you, helping your departing people feel heard while collecting valuable insights you can’t get anywhere else. Done right, a good offboarding survey can even replace an exit interview.

Exit interviews add extra value and should ideally work hand-in-hand with offboarding surveys to gather deeper qualitative insights. But if your HR team are spread too thin an offboarding survey can be a worthy replacement -( provided it is completely anonymous and asks the right questions about culture, leadership, and engagement.

If those boxes are ticked, you got all the insights you need. But imaging if you also could get the valuable data translated into meaningful, actionable insight and graphs?

Easy automated offboarding surveys are a simple change that can make massive strides in improving your offboarding process. Learn what other functionality matters when choosing an employee experience platform.  Or discover how Winningtemp’s employee experience platform boosts engagement across the whole employee lifecycle, with this two minute demo.

With a degree in Behavioural Science and over 10 years of experience in HR and recruitment, Linn joined Winningtemp in 2021 as a Talent Acquisition Manager and is responsible for sourcing candidates, the onboarding process and employer branding. This ties in with her passion for recruitment and talent acquisition, as Linn’s aim is to elevate the candidate experience and ultimately make employees feel proud about working at Winningtemp. She also enjoys networking within recruitment, and she’s a self-proclaimed nerd when it comes to recruitment trends and being up to date with the latest research within employer branding and talent acquisition.

About the author
Linn Cedergårdh

Focusing on people

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