While most organisations invest a lot of time and resources into recruitment and onboarding, employee exit management can often take a backseat. With less effort and attention put into the offboarding process, organisations can risk exposing themselves to unnecessary legal and security threats.
Overlooking employee exit management can also prevent your organisation from getting valuable feedback that can help improve any flawed aspects of the company’s operations. Beyond this, a well-managed exit process shows exiting staff just how much your organisation values people beyond the time they are with the company, but even as they move on to other career goals.
What is Employee Offboarding or Exit Management?
Most people know what onboarding is. When a new employee joins your organisation, you take the time to introduce them to the team – who is who and in charge of what, the work process, timelines, their responsibilities, tasks, and so on.
On the other hand, employee offboarding is what an organisation does when an employee is leaving the organisation. It involves managing every step necessary to ensure that you and the exiting employees part ways amicably.
Exit management or offboarding can benefit not just the employee by providing valuable feedback on their work process, but also your organisation by turning former employees into advocates and promoters of your organisation’s employer brand.
How Does the Employee Offboarding Process Work?
When an employee resigns, is terminated or retires from an organisation, the HR department takes them through an offboarding process. This process ensures a seamless transition for both the employee and the organisation.
It involves making sure there are no essential pending tasks under the purview of the employee leaving the company, ensuring that all paperwork is properly documented, and all dues paid, among other things.
In essence, offboarding ensures that all loopholes are plugged in and removes the possibility of calling former employees weeks or months after leaving the organisation to ask for information needed by their department or replacement.
The employee exit management process can be daunting for the HR department as most organisations do not have a proper process for offboarding employees. This means that many vital tasks tend to fall through the cracks, information may be mismanaged, and onboarding a replacement employee could become a hassle.
Why is Exit Management Important?
1. Supports employer branding
Most organisations vet prospective hires as a part of the recruitment process. The HR department goes over their work history and experience and tries to ensure they are a good fit for the organisation. In most cases, this means contacting previous employers to understand why the employee left and what their work ethics are.
In the same vein, employees do some research on companies they would consider joining, sometimes even before applying for a job. They look for past and current employees and ask what working with the organisation is like. A Software Advice study found that more than 50% of job seekers check company reviews on Glassdoor before applying for a job.
Ensuring that your employer brand is stellar helps your organisation gain access to a better talent pool. In addition, it ensures that ex-employees have good things to say about your organisation
2. Reduces security risk
A proper offboarding process ensures that all company assets are returned in good condition, and access to company accounts or information assets are revoked.
This prevents unnecessary friction with the replacement employee and reduces the company’s exposure to security risks.
3. Provides a platform for feedback
Including an exit interview as a part of the employee offboarding process helps both the organisation and the employee gain quality feedback. The organisation (through the HR unit) provides the employee with feedback on what the quality of their work process has been like, commends them on their strengths and makes suggestions for improvement.
The employee, in turn, gives feedback on what it’s been like working for the organisation, the company culture, work process and so on. This review process ensures that the organisation is constantly working to create a healthy environment for its employees.
4. Removes legal risk
Offboarding can expose organisations to the risk of legal action being taken against them. This can happen when there are disputes in contract, employee compensation, or other related issues like wrongful termination.
It is crucial to ensure that employees understand why they are being terminated, that employers understand the employees’ reason for resigning, and that everyone involved is clear on the benefits owed to either party. All these should be done with the employment contract terms in mind and with no bias.
5. Leaves the door open for returning employees
As we’ve said earlier, employees who leave your organisation can either be your biggest supporters or your worst detractors.
Ensuring that there is a smooth transition with employees as they leave your organisation helps them leave your organisation on a positive note, leaving the door open for them to return in the future or refer top talent to the organisation.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Exit Management
1. Resignation, retirement or termination
Once an employee is terminated, retires or resigns, the HR department comes in to take over the process of offboarding and ensure it is done right.
This would usually mean that the employee is given a formal letter of termination or retirement to sign for documentation. Similarly, the employee would be required to send in a letter of intent in the case of a voluntary exit.
2. Conduct the exit interview
After both parties have been formally notified, HR schedules a time with the employee for an exit interview. At this interview, the employee will talk about their experience throughout their stay with the organisation, their reason for leaving, plans and next steps.
Exit interviews need to go smoothly as it is one of the last memories the employee will have of your organisation. So, as the HR personnel managing an exit interview, be sure you’re prepared and attentive.
Here are some questions to ask in an exit interview:
- How did your initial job description compare to what you were working on?
- Did you have all the needed support and resources to get your job done effectively?
- What was your perception of the company culture?
- Is there any way we could have convinced you to stay?
- How was your relationship with your colleagues?
- How was your relationship with your manager?
- Tell us a few things you feel we could improve on?
- Would you recommend this organisation to your job-seeking friends?
3. Inform the team
Your next step is to ensure that you inform the team before word gets out. Then, figure out what the transition will mean for the team and find ways to ensure it has as little effect on productivity as possible.
Clients who regularly deal with an exiting employee should be notified of their exit, introduced to replacements, and reassured that their business is in good hands.
4. Prepare the paperwork
Review the employees’ contract to make sure everything is in order. For example, go over non-disclosure agreements, compensation packages, reimbursement on loans taken with the employee, and ensure all agreements are followed and to protect the organisation from being liable to any legal action or loss of funds.
Ensure the employee handsover all documents, access and information needed before the leave to avoid productivity issues and hitches in the organisation. This would usually mean making sure all departments put together what they need from the employee before they leave.
5. Manage the handover process
Figure out who will be taking over the employee’s role. Have arrangements been made for a replacement employee or will the work be redistributed among the team till a new employee is found?
You also need to find out and make plans for training the replacement employee. What training will they need and who will handle their training? Will the exiting employee train their replacement or will the organisation handle that?
It’s important to ensure that the employee hands over all relevant documents, information assets, and company property before they leave to avoid productivity issues and hitches in the organisation.
Here are some questions that will help employees handover effectively:
- Can you break down your daily and weekly routine into step-by-step activities?
- What are the most important tasks in your role?
- What projects recur on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annual basis?
- What files will your successor need access to when you’re gone?
- Are there any work processes or systems that your successor will need training on?
- Who are your regular contacts, inside and outside the organisation, so we can inform them of the transition?
The exiting employee will need to tie up all ongoing projects and prepare a handover document containing all the information the replacement will need to complete tasks. This document will include things like account access, client information, procedural notes, etc.
6. Account deletion and reset
Once the employee has handed off all the required documents, accesses and information, their account should be reviewed and all access to company assets revoked. This should ideally happen on the employee’s last day of work.
The IT department should promptly change passwords to sensitive software and applications. Not closing down emails and changing passwords to company assets can lead to a security breach that will affect your organisation, so this should be done immediately.
All emails and calls should be redirected to the replacement employee as well.
7. Say farewell
Your final communication with the employee should be as pleasant and positive as possible. Writing a thank-you note with a personalised gift tells the exiting employee and other employees that your organisation values people. Where necessary, you could also put together a farewell party for the employee.
SeamlessHRMS offers an end-to-end HR solution that helps HR manage your employee’s lifecycle processes, from their recruitment, all the way to their exiting the company.
With our Exit Management module, you can that deliver a smooth and professional offboarding experience to staff. With SeamlessHRMS allows you to create custom workflows that reflect your company’s offboarding policy, manage resignation requests, schedule and document exit interviews, carry stakeholders along, and track the employee offboarding process effortlessly from start to finish.