Article | Offboarding

Employee Offboarding

It is critical for businesses to maintain thorough offboarding processes any time an employee leaves the organization whether voluntarily or of their own volition.

During economic downturns, it is even more vital for organizations to prepare for employee separations as layoffs become more commonplace. 

Unfortunately, offboarding can be a blind spot for many organizations and can be a costly one at that. Companies that neglect the offboarding process could be missing out on developing a more loyal alumni. Considering 20 percent of open jobs are filled by boomerang hires, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, that oversight could be hurting much more than an organization’s reputation. 

Properly terminating an employee from their role can be essential to helping ensure that all team members feel more supported and valued. To help make sure you're doing this right, here are some key best practices for employee offboarding to consider. 


What is Employee Offboarding?

Employee offboarding is essentially the break-up between your organization and a departing employee. It is important to have a planned strategy for separating employees as it affects not only the person who is leaving, but also other team members and the overall culture of the organization. 

Offboarding consists of various tasks such as:

  • Ensuring key stakeholders in your organization are notified of the employee’s departure including IT and managers;
  • Issuing last paychecks in a timely manner;
  • Preparing and sending separation forms including state required separation notices and other company-specific forms;
  • Conducting an exit interview to learn how your organization can improve the employee experience and how they can stay connected, if desired. 

In some ways, offboarding processes are a component part of modern onboarding as companies need procedures in place for internal employee moves (crossboarding), departing employees (offboarding), and returning employees (reboarding).

It’s important to keep in mind that offboarding must be handled in a professional way to help maintain positive relationships with current employees as well as potential future hires. Being clear on expectations and providing ongoing support will help ensure that everyone involved feels more valued throughout this transitionary period.

If possible, businesses would be well-served to provide outgoing employees access to reemployment services to help them through their unexpected career transition. The benefits of reemployment services are multi-pronged as they can help springboard your separated employees to their next career opportunity while helping your organization maintain a more positive brand image while possibly reducing the overall business costs of layoffs. 

Setting Clear Expectations for Employee Offboarding

Setting clear expectations for employee offboarding is essential to help keep all parties on the same page. It's important to create a plan and timeline for each step. Having an employee offboarding checklist or outline of these tasks can help ensure everything is taken care of in a timely manner.

Effectively communicating  throughout the offboarding process is often key. Make sure you keep open lines of communication between former employees and their supervisors as this will help keep everyone up-to-date on what is happening during the transition and provide an opportunity for any questions or issues to be addressed before anyone leaves the company. 

Regular check-ins with relevant team members and stakeholders are a good way to help maintain communication. This should be done both before, during, and after the employee's departure, to help ensure everyone is aware of what needs to be completed while they are still part of the organization, as well as any action items that need to be completed once they have left. 

Check-ins should also include a review of goals and expectations set out in the exit interview, along with any feedback from team members about their experience working with the now-former employee. This can help identify any areas for improvement or areas where support may be needed.

In addition, help ensure all administrative tasks related to offboarding are done correctly can be critical to maintaining offboarding requirements. This includes filing paperwork, issuing payments in a timely fashion, and providing appropriate notice to other team members. Maintaining clear communication channels throughout will help ensure that nothing slips through the cracks and that everything runs smoother.

Finally, it’s important to give departing employees an opportunity for closure. By scheduling meetings or calls with them prior to their last day at the company, you can give them an opportunity to say goodbye and make sure their questions have been answered. During these meetings or calls it’s important to discuss why they are leaving, and how they can stay connected if desired.

Transparent and consistent communication between current and former employees helps create an atmosphere of greater trust, which will help strengthen morale among your team.

Employee Offboarding Forms and Paperwork

A variety of forms are  distributed whenever an employee leaves and they vary by state and organization. Some examples of forms you may be sending to your employees during offboarding include:

  • State-specific separation forms
  • Logistical information for returning company-owned equipment
  • Consent to receive an electronic W-2 
  • Benefits information and expectations for COBRA 
  • Last paycheck information 
  • A copy of their non-compete and/or non-disclosure agreement 
  • Retirement, equity, and employee stock information 
  • Exit interview questions 
  • Contact information for questions

Sometimes this can seem like an insurmountable obstacle making sure each form is appropriately signed, especially if an employee walks off of the job. Fortunately, there is technology that can help automate offboarding forms and processes so that applicable forms can be delivered in one digital packet to your former employee by email or text. By putting into place the right offboarding forms solution for your organization, you can help better ensure that you:

  • Get the right form to the right person at the right time in one digital packet with minimal effort, reducing the burden on your HR team;
  • Reduce risk and be more audit ready with forms monitoring, automation and tracking; 
  • Support your brand as an employer of choice with a more positive offboarding experience for employees;
  • Establish an audit trail to document that the notices were presented to the employee and acknowledged. Helping ensure that you provide the correct forms in proper fashion that can help you  mitigate the business cost of layoffs

Utilizing technology to streamline employee offboarding notices can help your company stay more organized throughout the offboarding process while helping reduce friction for your outgoing employees as well as the burden on your HR team. 

Creating a More Positive Environment After an Employee Leaves

Once an employee has left your organization, it is up to you and your team to ensure that their departure does not have a negative effect on the morale of other employees. To do this, you can take steps to help create a more positive environment after they have left – one that emphasizes the importance of the person’s contributions while also looking forward to new opportunities.

One way to help maintain a positive environment is by ensuring that tasks related to offboarding are handled effectively and efficiently. Doing this will help show that you valued their time with the organization and help their peers and team to transition to a new environment by creating handoffs and reducing gaps.

If an employee has made positive contributions during their time with your organization, you can take time to recognize their efforts and lasting effects on the organization. This can be done through formal recognition such as awards or bonuses or more informal gestures such as sending thank-you cards or organizing a farewell lunch or gathering for them. Acknowledging their efforts can help create an atmosphere where employees feel more appreciated even after someone has left the company.

Finally, staying in touch with departing employees can help keep them stay connected to your business even after they leave. By setting up regular check-ins and allowing former employees to attend company events when possible, you’ll show that your business values its people even after they leave and provide an opportunity for them to stay more connected if desired. This can help keep morale higher among current employees and allow former employees to feel like part of the team even if they no longer work there – both of which could benefit your organization in the long run.

Creating a positive environment after an employee leaves is essential to helping build a more trusting atmosphere within your organization. Through effective offboarding processes and thoughtful gestures such as recognition or staying in touch with former employees, you can demonstrate that your business values its people even after they leave.

How to Create an Employee Offboarding Checklist

When it comes to offboarding, creating and following an effective checklist is a key to making sure the process runs smoother and more efficiently. Such a checklist should include tasks related to administrative and business processes, as well as communication with relevant stakeholders and other team members. By having a comprehensive list of tasks to follow, you can better ensure that no important detail is left out during the offboarding process.

Any offboarding checklist should contain steps related to administrative and business processes. These might include filing paperwork such as termination letters or employment agreements, issuing payments for outstanding wages or vacation pay, and collecting any company property such as laptops or access cards from the employee. 

There should also be steps related to informing relevant stakeholders of the employee’s departure – such as the HR department or IT staff – as well as updating records related to the employee’s time at your organization. All of these steps are necessary in order to help complete the offboarding process.

In addition to administrative and business tasks, communications should also be a key part of your offboarding checklist. Ideally, you should have a set of standard procedures for informing other team members about an employee’s departure – whether it's through emails, face-to-face conversations, or any other form of communication that works best for your organization. This will help ensure that everyone involved in the offboarding process is kept up-to-date on what's happening with their former colleague's departure and will help prevent avoidable issues.

Finally, your offboarding checklist should include steps related to staying in touch with former employees if desired. 


How to Offboard Seasonal Employees

Seasonal offboarding is the process of terminating temporary employees at the end of their contract or at the end of a particular season. This is a common practice in industries such as retail, hospitality, and tourism, where there may be a surge in demand during certain times of the year. 

Seasonal onboarding is typically a planned event, and employers must carefully manage the process to help ensure that it is carried out smoothly and without complications. Employers need to ensure their employees are aware of their termination date well in advance. This allows employees to plan accordingly and also helps reduce potential confusion surrounding their employment status. Employers should also make sure necessary paperwork, such as final paychecks and termination letters, are prepared and ready to go. 

Effectively managing a seasonal workforce and communicating transparently helps create a more positive experience and can help encourage seasonal workers to return the next time you need them. 

Employee Offboarding Best Practices Set Companies up for Greater Success

Employee offboarding is the final stage of the employee lifecycle and one that organizations can not afford to neglect. A detailed, step-by-step offboarding checklist is a great way to help your organization remain better organized despite losing a team member and can help reassure remaining employees that the company is capable of withstanding employee turnover. 

By following offboarding best practices, your company can maintain a better reputation with current and former employees and move forward despite having to adjust roles and responsibilities.