The Good in Goodbye

A critical factor in setting up new employees for success is a robust onboarding process. However, with this year coming to an end, it’s a good time to remember that offboarding is just as important.

The same time and effort you put into onboarding should also be put in to offboarding. Offboarding is the process that leads to the official and formal separation between an employee and a company, whether it be through resignation, termination or retirement. A fully built-out offboarding process includes various steps that need to be taken before an employee leaves. When done correctly, it can be the difference between parting ways amicably and burning a bridge.

Why is Employee Offboarding Important?

When an employee decides to part ways with your organization, they will either become an advocate or an antagonist. An advocate will speak highly of your company, send new candidates your way and continue to be close with your remaining employees. They may become a future client or refer business to you. An antagonist won’t recommend potential candidates apply for open positions. They may even badmouth you to other organizations or clients.

In addition, I’ve known departed employees that “boomerang,” meaning they leave your company and decide to return. The likelihood of this increases with a positive offboarding experience. Re-hiring former employees has added benefits too. For example, it can be cost-effective since a returning employee already knows the business, fits in with the culture and will be more productive faster than any new hires you may be considering.

A positive offboarding experience can also be crucial when it comes to data security. If an employee’s departure wasn’t voluntary, or their offboarding experience turns sour, they may hold a grudge and wish to harm your company. They may steal or leak proprietary information to your suppliers, shareholders and others.  20% of organizations say they’ve experienced a data breach by former employees.

When you have an effective offboarding process, you can limit the possibilities of misunderstandings or miscommunications. It’s in your best interest to have a comprehensive understanding of their experience at your company before they part ways. This will open up additional opportunities for development, networking, and growth in the future. Plus, you can use the offboarding process to identify ways to improve your culture and employee experience.

What Happens After Goodbye?

Once you’ve officially parted ways with the employee, you’ll need to wipe any sensitive data related to the organization off of their personal devices and revoke all digital access rights to platforms like your employee portal or corporate email. This ensures you’re not at any sort of compliance risk in the future, as well as protects company information from various types of breaches in data.

You can also clean their desk or personal space, especially if someone else is literally and figuratively taking their place. Remember to update any organizational charts to avoid internal confusion and remove the departing employee from payroll.

While some goodbyes will be harder than others, a proper offboarding process makes saying goodbye to an employee a little easier for everyone involved. Offboarding completes the employee lifecycle for that individual at your organization, but that doesn’t mean it’s goodbye forever!


James Harwood