Even good working relationships will eventually end, and as they say, “The show must go on.” To maintain a successful, thriving business, creating a robust offboarding process is a necessity, as employees will come and go.
Offboarding covers everything from employee separation to recruitment and hiring, and smart companies work to create a ladder of success so that when an employee leaves, the next person in line is ready for the job.
Many visual tools can help in the offboarding process and other employee communication needs, and Venngage for Business is the best way to make sure your company can handle turnover effectively.
Click to jump ahead:
- What does it mean to offboard an employee?
- Why is offboarding important?
- Is offboarding the same as employee separation?
- What is the difference between onboarding and offboarding?
- What is involved in the employee offboarding process?
- What is an offboarding checklist?
- Employee offboarding checklist templates
- Employee offboarding FAQs
What does it mean to offboard an employee?
Offboarding describes the process of managing employee turnover. It’s more expansive than employee separation, as a critical part of the offboarding process is filling the position left vacant by the former employee.
A company that successfully offboards an employee will be able to continue normal operations without missing a beat, as well as improving company operations or employee engagement via feedback and mitigating security or account risk by doing things like changing passwords.
Some offboarding processes can go on for weeks, especially in the case of executive or high-responsibility employees. Others can take place quite quickly, which is often the case in companies that promote from within.
Why is offboarding important?
Offboarding is a practical and experiential process to both the employee and employer.
One aspect of offboarding is ensuring a disgruntled employee no longer has access to important systems or accounts. That’s the practical part.
The experiential part comes in when employers are able to make the best use of the offboarding process and understand why employees are leaving and where they might be able to improve the employee experience for both current and future employees.
Is offboarding the same as employee separation?
Employee separation triggers an offboarding process, but it’s not fair to say that offboarding and employee separation are the same. Whatever the circumstances involved in how an employee comes to leave their job, there are many other tasks involved in offboarding them.
Offboarding can be a positive or negative experience for your company. Former employees who feel they were treated with dignity during their time with your company, including when that time ended, are likely to speak favorably about you.
If offboarding is done badly and former employees retain access to critical systems, companies can face serious consequences, one of which can be security breaches. In 2021, Tesla filed a lawsuit against a former employee accused of exporting proprietary data and even making changes to source code.
Even when there’s little risk of a data breach or financial loss, failure to conduct a proper offboarding process may mean you miss out on implementing organizational feedback that could improve the company as a whole.
For more information about the employee separation process, check out our blog post: A Complete Guide to the Employee Separation Process [+ Templates]
What is the difference between onboarding and offboarding?
Onboarding refers to the process involved in hiring and training a new employee, while offboarding is about successfully parting ways with an employee and filling their vacancy. But while these processes are separate, it’s wise to consider them as part of a cycle.
An exit interview is just one part of the offboarding process, but it’s a critical one. Feedback from people who leave on good terms can help make your company better overall.
A good offboarding procedure can make onboarding more effective, and vice versa. How? Here are just two of many possible examples:
- Your HR team has an exit interview in which the exiting team member indicates they never felt they were part of the company culture. The department in question then takes the feedback to implement team-building exercises to improve employee engagement and experience.
- Your HR team identifies employee development as a critical internal value and only considers candidates with a desire for self-improvement. When a senior employee leaves, there’s a line of qualified candidates within the organization ready to go because they were receptive to learning and development.
Related: How to Create an Engaging Orientation & Onboarding Program for New Employees
What is involved in the employee offboarding process?
Offboarding procedures can vary depending on the job. That’s because for some roles, you will want to hire from within, while that’s not possible for all jobs. Your mileage may vary, but in general, here are the steps involved in an offboarding process:
1. Employee gives notice
In cases where someone is fired, there’s usually no notice to the employee, but their managers and HR are likely aware that a situation is brewing. So they may begin well before the person is terminated to make plans for replacing them.
2. Company advertises for job and recruits candidates
The HR department or the employee’s supervisor or department head places advertisements for the open job or considers whether it would be possible to promote from within. In many companies, even if an internal candidate is identified, the role must still be posted for external candidates.
For more examples of hiring advertisements or hiring flyers, check out our blog post: 30+ Hiring Flyers You Can Customize For Your Job Posting
3. Employee’s final day
Depending on the circumstances of their separation, the exiting employee may actually be the one to train the new hire, but more on that later. Typically, though, the notice period is a time for the departing employee to hand off any important files or get their projects in a state to move to another person (often known as the knowledge transfer process).
Companies will also usually plan a party to thank the employee for their service, particularly if the separation is because they are retiring.
For more examples of farewell party emails, check out the templates in this blog post: A Complete Guide to the Employee Separation Process
On their last day, they will be asked to turn in company assets like keys, keycards and any company equipment they have, their email should be cut off and any important accounts they have access to should have their passwords changed.
4. Exit interview
Most companies conduct exit interviews regardless of how the person left. This can be done days to weeks after their last day. And while it can be wise to take things with a grain of salt, it’s good for companies to take seriously the feedback of departing employees. Not every suggestion they make should be implemented, but their testimony should be given significant weight and consideration.
5. New person hired
This step may happen well before the exiting employee’s final day, but this could also be the last step in the offboarding process.
This is where offboarding and onboarding may overlap a bit, as a good offboarding process will identify candidates who will benefit from the company’s onboarding process. Or the new person may need little to no onboarding at all, which is common in the case of internal promotions. However, once the turnover process is complete, the onboarding process begins and offboarding ends.
What is an employee offboarding checklist?
Employee offboarding checklists can help companies keep track of the steps involved in offboarding, and they’re particularly helpful for positions in which employees have access to financial accounts, website admin accounts or sensitive equipment.
Let’s take a look at different types of offboarding checklists you can create to ensure a smooth offboarding process for both departing employees and the company.
Employee offboarding checklist templates
This general employee offboarding checklist divides the tasks among supervisor, employee and the items that need to be returned to the company, making it easy for everyone involved in the process to keep track of what needs to be completed.
On another note, this simple offboarding checklist is reserved for Human Resources, to keep track of what they need to do or need to ask the employee to complete during the termination process.
In addition to having employees give back their keys or keycards, you should also revoke any systems access or parking passes that might be in effect, and your specific needs may vary when it comes to physical access. Customize this template to make sure all company assets are recovered properly from exiting employees.
An offboarding checklist can also help you determine if it’s possible to replace the outgoing employee with someone who is already in your company. Leadership readiness checklists, for example, can identify employees with executive potential.
Employee offboarding FAQs
Do you have more questions about offboarding? We have answers.
How do you offboard someone?
To successfully offboard an employee, you need to determine their last day, how their position will be filled, remove their access to important systems or accounts and conduct an exit interview.
What does offboarding process mean?
The offboarding process encompasses the steps involved in managing an employee separation, whether through firing, resignation or retirement. It covers their departure as well as filling their position.
In summary: Offboarding is a complex but important process that can be made easier with visuals
Decide who is going to fill vacancies, keep track of company assets and implement feedback from exit interviews with clever, engaging visuals like employee offboarding checklists, handbooks and agreements.
You can start customizing all these templates by registering for a free Venngage account. No design experience required.