Offboarding is the process that takes place when an employee leaves an organisation, whether this is through resignation, termination, or retirement. When an employee leaves, they will either:
- Become an advocate for your organisation; leaving positive reviews on sites like Glassdoor, recommending your organisation as a great place to work, and helping you to build a positive employer brand, or
- Become an antagonist to your organisation; leaving negative reviews, recommending against joining your organisation, and harming your employer brand
How you handle your offboarding process can determine which of these your employees become. Effective offboarding can also help you to understand what is and isn’t working for your employees to improve the current employee experience, and in turn, improve your reputation for future talent attraction.
The process should be well thought out, from the very moment you’re made aware of an employee’s departure. In this article, we’ve outlined 6 offboarding best practices for Life Science employers to follow, helping you to maintain a positive relationship with past employees and position your organisation as a great place to work…
Keep Your Employees Informed of Staff Changes
Be as honest as you can with your team about why and when an employee is leaving, and be ready to address any concerns your employees may have about losing a member of their team. Although the amount of information you can share with employees will depend on the circumstances of the departure, you could:
- Confirm that an employee is leaving, and inform relevant staff of their last day
- Explain to employees how they will be supported through the transition (e.g., how a temporary increase in workload whilst a replacement is found will be shared amongst the team)
- Share your plans for finding a replacement, or alternatively for a permanent restructure of the team/department
- Reassure employees who fear their job is also at risk (e.g., if there has been a redundancy)
- Communicate clearly with the employee who is leaving to ascertain how much information they want to share with their colleagues/how much information you as an employer want them to share
Where possible, don’t leave room for speculation and misinformation to be spread.
Ensure a Smooth Transition
When an employee leaves, they’re also taking their skills and knowledge with them, a lot of which may come from experience and not from their initial training and onboarding. To ensure a smooth transition between an employee leaving and a new hire joining, record the following about the departing employee’s role:
- Daily routine in as much depth as possible
- Weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annual tasks with instructions
- Files or systems that the new hire will need access to
- Regular contacts (both internal and external) that the new hire will need to introduce themselves to and communicate with regularly
You can also take note of:
- Useful websites/platforms for learning certain aspects of a role
- Useful resources such as a blog or newsletter that keeps employees up to date with industry news and developments
- Other tips and tricks to will make life easier
If you don’t already have an up-to-date internal skills database, it may be a good time to run a skills audit of your team to help you identify the best people to cover aspects of the role during your recruitment drive.
Ensure the temporary additional responsibilities aren’t being left to one employee to cover, and that you provide in-depth training in areas that can’t be so easily covered.
Plan Your Exit Interview
The exit interview is your perfect opportunity to find out what your employee’s experience working for you has really been like, and to identify both weaknesses and strengths in your organisation. It can help to better understand why employees leave, and this can in turn help to build on your employee retention strategy.
Questions you could ask during the exit interview include:
- Why have you decided to leave?
- How did the role compare to your initial expectations?
- What would have convinced you to stay?
- Did you feel supported in your role?
- What was your work/life balance like?
- Would you recommend this organisation to others?
- What was your workload like?
- What (if anything) would you change about the benefits we offer?
- Did you feel supported by your manager?
- How can we improve as an employer?
- How did you find the onboarding/training process?
- Describe a time when your job was particularly difficult. What could we have done to support you?
- Was your learning and development supported here?
- What would you change about this organisation?
- Would you consider returning if changes are made?
Assure employees that their feedback will be dealt with confidentially, and that any issues they touch on will be taken seriously and investigated. Reiterate that your goal is not to burn any bridges, but rather to use real feedback to improve the employee experience.
Recover Company Assets Respectfully
Once you’ve been made aware of an employee’s departure, ensure they have a list of everything they’ll be expected to return on their last working day. This can include:
- Home working equipment
- Company phones/tablets
- Company credit/debit cards
- ID badges
- Keys/security cards
Recover these assets from your employee respectfully. Do it privately, and for things like clearing out their desks, recommend a quieter time to meet the employee before or after work so they can do it without the rest of their team watching.
If you can, make this last step as personal as possible. Be there to walk through this with your employee, rather than giving them instructions on what to take to who and where.
Say Goodbye with a Personal Touch
Don’t leave it down to the rest of your team to sort out something special for the employee’s last day, and instead have something personal prepared in advance. You could:
- Pass around a card for people to sign
- Get them a personalised gift, perhaps asking their closest colleagues for ideas if needed
- Schedule a goodbye lunch (either inside or outside work)
Also make sure that you’re present on your employee’s last day and say your goodbyes in person rather than over an email sent to the whole company.
Leave the Door Open for Boomerang Employees
Remember that employees don’t always leave because they don’t like the company, or because they don’t work well there. Several personal factors can come into play here, and if their circumstances do change in the future, be willing to welcome them back with open arms.
One thing you could do is to use LinkedIn or another alumni management system to invite employees to join once they leave. Here, you can share your company news and current openings, as well as gather feedback. You can also use these groups to do your own research on where your employees have moved to, to allow you to understand what you can do to retain your talent in the future.