More often than not, an employee starting at your company will also be saying goodbye to their previous employer at the same time. That’s what we call ‘offboarding’.
And if you give them the right attention, your ex-employee might even turn out to be an ambassador for your organisation. I’d like to give you a few tips to create an offboarding program.
Step 1: Choose the journey
The offboarding starts the moment the decision is made: the employee will leave the company. At this moment you can already choose the offboarding journey you want to give your leaving employee.
You can imagine that leaving after a reorganisation will be different from when an employee has found a new job. There can be many reasons for an employee wanting to leave but the vast majority of exits will be either “free will” or “forced”. Make sure you think about different plans of action.
Step 2: Process, communication and emotions
When you create a journey for the exiting employee, you should differentiate between process and communication.
The process starts as soon as the decision is made. A variety of practical business needs to be taken care of. Handing in devices, closing off accounts, checking the number of holidays and overtime left etc. It helps to have a process in place, perhaps even a checklist. This way you won’t forget anything and neither will the leaving employee.
Communication to the employee, to the team, to the rest of the organisation and to contacts outside the organisation (preferably in that order) must take place.
Emotions will be running high. Make sure you give the employee and the team space to experience these emotions. If the need arises you could offer them a consult with the company confidant or give the employee a few days off. With change, everybody responds differently and this should be respected.
Step 3: Keep the knowledge
As soon as everybody is over the shock you can start thinking about finishing the practicalities in the right way. Make sure there are good handovers both in terms of knowledge and contacts. Make sure the “implicit” knowledge of the leaving employee is made explicit. Where can the possible replacement find this knowledge?
Step 4: Ask for feedback
When the employee has completed the handover, it’s time to ask for feedback. The best feedback comes from the inside. The employee didn't choose to leave for no reason (assuming they did it out of free will), and this is a good way to learn what your organisation should have done to keep them.
Exit-conversations with a manager or an online survey are just a couple of examples of this process. This process will of course be very different if an employee has been fired. At least make sure the leaving employee feels they have the space to say anything, without limits.
Step 5: Say goodbye
After the handover and feedback, the time has come: the last day of work (not to be confused with the last day of contract). Make sure the leaving employee has a fitting goodbye, and consult them about their wishes. Will it be lunch, drinks, or does the employee want to leave without any festivities?
It’s also good to think about if, and what, you want to give the employee as a parting gift. Perhaps make sure that the organisation has budget allocated for leaving employees? There’s nothing more embarrassing than having to pay for your own drinks after 20 years of service.
If you say goodbye in the right way, the employee will feel positive and might even become an ambassador.
Step 6: The day after
After the employee has left, they have become an official alumnus. You can keep the alumni engaged by starting a LinkedIn group for them or organising a meeting or reunion every now and then.
Another way is to engage the alumni in your current strategy - ask them for feedback on a new concept, for introductions to new potential customers or to leave a review. And if you start searching for new hires, hiring an alumnus can have added value because they know the organisation and can return with extra knowledge, experience and connections.
Leave as a fan, not a hater.
As you can see, when you guide your employee to the exit in the right way, a negative experience can turn into a positive one. Give every exit the attention it deserves, free up budget for it, make sure the process is right and retain the knowledge.
When you think about it, most of the time somebody leaving, happens just as often as somebody entering the organisation.
Curious how we can help you designing your offboarding program? Send us an e-mail and we will get in touch!