Offboarding is an extremely important part of the employee lifecycle, yet many organisations ignore this process. Here’s why you should care about offboarding – a lot.
Just as employee onboarding ensures that a new starter is integrated into your organisation’s culture as efficiently as possible, offboarding guarantees an employee leaves with a positive mindset and opinion of your organisation. Offboarding software can help facilitate this, allowing you to implement a proper process that benefits both the employee and the organisation.
Understanding the role of onboarding and offboarding software in the employee experience
Onboarding software and offboarding software both play crucial roles in creating a positive employee experience by welcoming new hires into your company culture, and facilitating a smooth departure for soon-to-be ex-employees. These software tools automate administrative tasks, provide access to resources and training, and enable knowledge transfer, resulting in a positive onboarding experience and minimising the disruptive impact of departures. By properly leveraging these tools, organisations can enhance employee satisfaction, retention, and overall success.
Three essential components of a successful offboarding experience
Here are the top three things you need for a successful offboarding, according to Ciphr’s people coordinator Megan Sharpe.
This includes speaking to:
- The employee about their leaving arrangements
- The employee’s customers/clients so they are aware of the change, and are given a new point of contact
- The remaining team, so they can ask questions and be told about plans to replace the individual, or redistribute their tasks
- The wider organisation. You might want to combine announcements about leavers and starters into a single communication to advise them of both leavers and starters; here are Ciphr, for example, the people team posts a monthly announcement on Yammer post about recent starters and leavers
2. Knowledge transfer
Make sure you arrange relevant meetings and handovers before the employee leaves so that you and your team aren’t left with knowledge gaps later down the line. Handover documents can help you capture vital information about processes, projects’ statuses, and how to tools such as your HR system.
3. A comprehensive offboarding checklist
This ensures that all necessary tasks are done in the order required and keeps a record of what was done should there be any queries down the line. Your checklist should be able to be easily amended or updated with changes in procedure. It also helps if it’s shared with all departments so it can be used by anyone in your organisation.
Why you should invest in your offboarding software and processes
There are a number of reasons why it’s important for organisations to invest time and effort into their offboarding process.
1. Data security is more important than ever
Do you have processes in place that ensure your data is secure and access to internal systems is only available to current employees? Although this may seem an obvious part of any offboarding process, many organisations leave their systems open to ex-employees for days or weeks after their leaving date. Here are four ways HR software can help:
- Integration streamlines offboarding management – to efficiently manage offboarding tasks, create a comprehensive checklist covering data compliance, exit interviews, documentation collection (such as tax forms), and notify IT to revoke access rights. Utilising integrated systems and specialist HR software like ours ensures seamless data updates across multiple applications
- Manual or digital data retention – efficiently manage employee data by maintaining accurate filing systems and properly disposing of records after the data retention period for paper-based records. You can use our HR software for digital management, enabling quick searches, filtering, visual representations and reminders to ensure easy access and timely responses
- Prioritise GDPR compliance – streamline GDPR compliance and data retention processes with our HR software, providing an improved user experience, rapid access to a dedicated GDPR dashboard and the ability to choose between anonymising or deleting employee records. Define retention periods for individuals, teams or locations, and easily report on GDPR compliance, including consent status and identifying overdue records for immediate removal
- Effortlessly deal with subject access requests (SAR) – our HR software enables reactivation of access for former employees, allowing them to view and download their records, ensuring timely compliance with SAR requests
2. Honest feedback helps you improve your employer brand
Including exit interviews in your offboarding process allows your employees to give feedback about their employment with you. Feedback from employees who are leaving the organisation will often be more open and honest than that of current employees who don’t want to say the wrong thing or seem negative.
Depending on the circumstances of the employee exiting the organisation, it may be that their responses are inherently negative. In these instances, you’ll have to use your judgement as to what feedback is genuine and should be acted on, and which comments are simply a result of bad feelings.
Of course, it’s not all about negative feedback. An employee may be leaving for reasons completely separate from their employment with you and give very positive comments.
Regardless of the outcome of the exit interview, it’s important that the organisation takes note and acts on the observations of employees.
“After reviewing the comments and data from your exit interviews, it’s good to try to fix any common themes that arise. It is probably too late for the leavers, but it can help you put strategies in place to reduce staff turnover and, therefore, bring down costs. Exit interviews can also add value to company culture and staff performance.”
– Katie Allen, people advisor at Ciphr
3. Brand advocates aren’t just current employees
If an employee has a happy and successful time with an organisation and leaves on good terms, then they’re likely to recommend the brand to friends, family, and individuals they know looking for a job – think of your former employees as a potential alumni network. As mentioned above, employees don’t always leave because they are unhappy – assuming that they do is a terrible mistake to make and can cause unnecessary bad feelings.
With websites such as Glassdoor growing in popularity as a reference for potential talent to research your brand, it’s important to maximise the chances of receiving positive reviews from both existing and ex-employees.
It may also be that ex-employees could continue to use the services and products which you supply. If they leave on bad terms, then they’re unlikely to do so and will probably move to a competitor.
4. Ex-employees come back
In some cases, ex-employees may return to work for your organisation. Burning bridges with employees will mean that you miss out on the expertise and talent that they can offer the business. Additionally, the cost to hire will generally be a lot lower than it would be through a recruitment agency or by advertising the vacancy yourself.
Once the employee has returned to your organisation, they can be up and running much sooner than an employee with no prior knowledge of your business and organisational culture. They’ll know the ins and outs of business processes and, depending on the length of time they were away from the business, they may also be familiar with your goals, objectives, and even your customers.
Offboarding software from Ciphr
Offboarding capabilities are an integral part of our HR software – it’s imperative to ensure a smooth transition for the employee who leaves, and that the organisation’s sensitive information stays secure.
When an admin user marks in our HR software that an employee is leaving, that individual’s account will have restricted access to things such as company documents and some personal information for a period of time after they leave the organisation. When this time period ends, the user will not be able to log in to their account anymore. This offboarding software functionality can be switched on through our HR software’s system settings.
How Ciphr does… employee offboarding
Here at Ciphr we pride ourselves on our robust and thorough offboarding procedure:
- When the people team receives a resignation email or letter, they immediately forward it on to the employee’s line manager and C-suite executive (if they are not already aware) to see if they can be retained and, if not, agree on a leaving date
- The people team responds to the employee with a resignation acceptance letter that confirms their last day and pay/holiday arrangements, reminds them of any restrictions in their contract, and provides them with a generic reference letter
- The people team sends the employee an online exit questionnaire to complete. Once this is completed, an exit interview call is arranged to discuss their reasons for leaving in more detail
- The information gathered is used to feed back to managers and the executive leadership team to see where we can make improvements or changes
- The people team processes the employee as a leaver in our HR software, which triggers an automated email to relevant people and teams within the company, prompting them to take any necessary actions on their end (for example, the finance team will need to be notified that this employee will no longer be on the payroll)
- On the employee’s last day, the people team does a final check of their holiday taken/owed to ensure the records are correct for their final payroll. They also send the employee an email with details on how to access our HR software as a leaver, which they can do for a limited period and in a very limited capacity in order to download their final payslip and P45
- The people team deactivates various accounts such as expenses and Ciphr Academy, our internal learning management system
- IT arranges the collection of their equipment and building access fob
Embrace employee offboarding
Offboarding software and processes are essential for enhancing the employee experience during departure. Robust offboarding procedures demonstrate your organisation’s commitment to your people at every stage of the employee lifecycle, helping to foster positive relationships and benefiting both current and future employees. Valuing the offboarding experience strengthens the overall employee experience and establishes a culture of respect and professionalism.
This article was first published in August 2014. It was updated in June 2023 for freshness, clarity, and accuracy.