There is no question that your offboarding process is important - nobody wants to intentionally make exiting employees feel undervalued or unwanted but the reality is that sometimes, the emotions of the time can get in the way of effectively offboarding employees. Many employers don’t even realise the extent of the damage they’re causing by burning bridges during the offboarding process or simply not putting enough thought into the process.
Why is offboarding effectively so important?
Firstly, the process is important for any exiting employee, whether they’re being let go, they’re leaving of their own accord or they have been fired - whatever the circumstances may be, all employees have the right to an appropriate send off. Of course, this does not necessarily mean a party with balloons and cake but it does mean that each employee has the chance to hear honest feedback and give their own.
Secondly, the process can be a great opportunity for all employers. Any exiting employee going through the offboarding process is in a position to provide honest feedback about your organisation. This means that, after the exit interview, you have a great opportunity to take their feedback on board and create some positive change within your organisation.
Perhaps most importantly for employees, the offboarding process can be make or break in terms of creating brand ambassadors. Regardless of how an employee is leaving, their time in offboarding could be the last time they are interacting with your organisation, so it’s imperative you do not leave a bad taste in their mouth.
How can ex-employees be brand ambassadors?
Word of mouth has always been extremely powerful and the introduction of social media has only made that power even more obvious. According to a study by CareerArc in 2015, 38% of fired or let go employees share negative reviews of their former employees while 71% of respondents said they find it very damaging or extremely damaging when a personal acquaintance shares a negative opinion about an organisation.
Both of those statistics are worrying for any organisation and it makes it all the more obvious that a positive, effective offboarding strategy can directly impact on the perception of your organisation’s brand.
In addition to the possibility of ex-employees being re-employed at some point, your ex-employees could also become your clients one day - after all, if the offboarding experience is positive, why wouldn’t they return one day to use your services if they were ever in need of them? You want your ex-employees to be so happy with their experience with you that they would recommend you to their friends and family as well as being confident to return to you at some point.
So, how can you make sure your offboarding strategy works?
Make a checklist - you want to make sure you cover all your bases. Ensure you cover all areas including expectations, legal obligations, communications throughout the process and removing access to technology and facilities.
Keep communication clear - every employee should know how this change will affect them. The exiting employee should be aware of how their exit will play out while the employees who are remaining should be across how their responsibilities will change when the exiting employee has finalised their exit.
Always keep it positive and supportive - every employee wants to know that their time in your organisation was valued and that they made their mark in some way. Make sure they walk away with a positive view on their contribution rather than the negative view that is so easy to have when leaving an organisation.
Learn from what they tell you - once they’re gone, don’t file their paperwork in a dusty corner of the office and never think of it again. Make sure you take their feedback on board and learn from what they tell you so that you can keep improving your organisation.
Greg Weiss is one of Australia’s most renowned career coaches. He is the author of “So You Got A Job, WTF Is Next”. The book prescribes a proven, practical 7 step guideline for new employees so they succeed, rather than fail their probation periods and beyond. Find out more about the book at https://www.wtfisnext.wtf/
He is the Founder and Director of Onboff an online training and coaching platform that helps HR specialists, coaches and recruiters to deliver exceptional onboarding and offboarding experiences for employees.
Greg also hosts The Keep: The Employee Experience podcast and runs CareerSupport365.