Resigning from a role that you find passion in and rewarding can be challenging. There can be overwhelming conflicting thoughts, fears, and hesitations. As the employer of a resigning employee, your reactions and the company offboarding process can either strengthen a departing employee’s resolve to leave or implant a lasting positive experience that has long-term benefits for the company.
My first job in corporate America was for “Company X”. I was with the company for 18 months before realizing that HR was my future, but it would need to be with a different employer. So, I found new employment and gave Company X my two-week written notice.
Having been part of Company X’s HR team for the past 18 months, I had some preconceived notions of what my off-boarding experience would look like, and to be honest, I was looking forward to the opportunity to provide some constructive feedback during my exit interview. Up until that time, I had nothing but positive performance reviews, received an Employee Of The Month award, and based on all the preceding interactions with my team and direct manager, I was well-liked as an individual. However, the events that unfolded during the next two weeks of my final time with Company X were so negatively impactful on myself and my team, that they left me with strong opinions that followed me for the next 20+ years of my human resources career.
Let’s pause here and talk about why an offboarding process is essential. According to Forbes, “A successful offboarding process will help your former employee and your company tactfully and gracefully handle what can otherwise be an awkward, stressful, and uncomfortable moment.” In a sense, offboarding is the reverse of onboarding in that it closes the loop in an employee lifecycle, ensuring a smooth transition for both the company and the employee. Offboarding an employee aids everyone impacted by the transition. Some of the benefits it provides include:
Unique to each company’s culture, industry, location, and employee size, offboarding processes often vary in scope and complexity. However, most companies (and all of our clients) usually have a checklist of items that comprise the entirety of the offboarding process. These items include communicating the departure, recovering company assets, updating org charts and company directories, revoking systems access, completing the final pay process, and engaging in an interactive exit interview. Especially amid the hustle and bustle, an intentional goodbye can go a long way to end a chapter well for all parties involved.
Returning to my story, Company X did a great job at failing to leave me with a healthy offboarding experience. Instead, their poor and lacking offboarding process ensured that not only would I never recommend them as an employer, but it also became the measure I used to compare my future offboarding interactions with employees. For the last 20 years in Human Resources, whenever I am designing, implementing, or doing an offboarding, I always ask myself, “Is the process I am using valid, honoring the employees’ time and company resources? Is this process complimentary to employees’ offboarding needs and a reflection of the company?” If none of those answers are positive or transparent, I recognize it’s time to pivot and adjust.
Avoiding the bog of emotion and drama here, let’s talk about the facts and what Company X did wrong with their offboarding.
The fact of the matter is that employees will leave. Whether they leave you, their manager, or the company, whether voluntary or not, departures are inevitable. Crafting a healthy and helpful offboarding process is where your culture will shine or die. Getting it right can ensure a smooth operation between someone handing in their notice and their replacement starting. Not only does that provide an immediate benefit for the company, but, in the current climate, it could also translate to what the ripple effect is on the rest of the employee morale. No matter what industry you are in or the size of your company. The main goal of your offboarding process should be:
Your company offboarding process isn’t a one-and-done deal. Like your company culture, it’s a living and ever-changing process. You should routinely check your processes to see what improvements can be made. You can gauge the health and strength of your offboarding process by regularly asking your team for feedback, doing pulse checks, and analyzing the changing needs. If you need assistance, Clarity HR is here to help you with the creation, implementation, and analysis.
Written by: Lois Stowe
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