At Leap29, we have talked a lot about onboarding employees and the importance of having a clear employee onboarding strategy, especially for international employees. But, what do you do when it comes to offboarding an employee? Having a clear offboarding strategy for employees is just as important as your onboarding strategy. In fact, the way your employee leaves a company often influences their opinion of their time at your company and impacts your brand reputation. Meanwhile, there can be strict regulations in place in certain countries for when an employee leaves a company.
In this blog, we look at the importance of an offboarding strategy and help with how to offboard an employee successfully.
What is offboarding and why do I need it?
While you may have heard of onboarding, you may not have heard about offboarding an employee. Essentially, your offboarding strategy covers how you will wave farewell to an employee taking into account employment regulations, an employee's contract and of course keeping an employee's exit as friendly a process as possible.
While many do not want to spend additional resources on an employee that is leaving, having a clear, compliant and compassionate offboarding strategy is proven to boost overall employee satisfaction, avoid any disputes and keep your company's reputation positive. After all, employees talk and finding out a colleague or a former employee at your potential new firm has been treated poorly upon leaving can cause negative atmospheres, toxic cultures and poor recruitment rates, especially if your business is operating in a new country and has therefore not established a solid reputation.
It is important to have a clear offboarding strategy regardless of why an employee is leaving, whether it's dismissal, the end of a temporary contract or resignation. Each company's offboarding strategy will be different, and may differ depending on which of the above reasons an employee is leaving for. However, it needn't be complicated. Below are just a few factors that could make up your employee offboarding strategy.
What is included in offboarding?
Compassion at the core
Firstly, before anything else, it's vital that you keep compassion and kindness at the heart of your offboarding strategy. While you may be disappointed an employee is leaving, or an employee may be being dismissed, keeping offboarding as friendly as possible helps to avoid any disputes.
Not only does this keep things civil with your departing employee, it also reassures current employees that the company has a culture of kindness and civility, not one of hostility. And, as the saying goes, employees are a company's best advertisement, and, while the employee in question may not work for you anymore, conversations they have about you at their new place of work or in future networking conversations can play a big part in your company's reputation.
Finally, by leaving on good terms, you leave the door open for your top talent to return in the future.
Compliance comes first
This will differ for each country, but putting compliance at the heart of your exit strategy is crucial. Your employee's employment contract should outline how they leave an employee such as notice period, annual leave entitlement, returning work property and so on. As a general rule of thumb, stick to what is written in the employment contract and you won't go far wrong with compliance.
It is also crucial that processes such as final payroll, tax and any other administrative processes are handled compliantly and correctly to avoid any disruption to your outgoing employee. Having robust payroll and employee management processes in place is crucial to ensuring this is handled correctly.
Focus on clear communication
Often, employee terminations or resignations can get swept under the carpet leaving a potentially awkward atmosphere amongst employees and the employer. By clearly communicating with both current employees and the employee who is leaving you can help to avoid this.
Firstly, talk to the employee who is leaving about their reasons for leaving, what they liked about the company, what they didn't like and if there is anything you as a company could improve on. Although these conversations may feel uncomfortable, they can help employees feel listened to and therefore create an amicable resignation. Likewise, by listening to your employees as they leave you can learn from any mistakes made and implement new, improved practices in the workplace to prevent other employees leaving for similar reasons.
Secondly, it is crucial to communicate with remaining staff about an employee's departure. Show your appreciation publicly for the work they have done and outline their reasons for leaving, providing this is ok with said employee. This will stop the rumour mill from churning and hopefully maintain a positive working environment while notice periods are worked.
Ensure an appropriate handover
Losing staff can hugely disrupt your processes. However, by having an effective handover this can be minimised as much as possible.
Firstly, ensure an effective handover of an employee's work or projects. This will minimise disruption and also prevent remaining employees feeling overwhelmed with excess workload once an employee has left. By starting this process early you can also identify any gaps in resources and determine if remaining employees need any extra training before an employee leaves.
Secondly, ensure all company property, whether hardware or software is handed back or over to the relevant persons. This can be anything from employee laptops, passwords or remote access. Again, this ensures no one is left without access once an employee leaves but also prevents any data breaches by the employee who is leaving.
Recruit a replacement
More often than not, when an employee leaves you will need to start recruiting a replacement and the sooner you start this process the better. Not only does this give you more time to find the perfect new hire but it also avoids any gap in resources or service once an employee leaves.
Likewise, recruiting early could allow for an overlap period between your employee who is leaving and your new employee. Here your outgoing employee can train up their replacement, further enhancing the handover period; after all, who knows the job better than an employee who has done it! As we have already discussed, communicating your intentions here and framing this as a positive handover process will ensure a positive final few weeks for your outgoing employee as well as a positive, welcoming first few weeks for your new hire.
Keep in touch
This final point may not be ideal for either party, but, if it is, then keeping in touch with former employees can be beneficial for both parties.
In the first instance, it echoes the first point of this guide and maintains amicable relationships with all employees, past and present. Secondly, it can be a fantastic networking opportunity, especially if said employee is remaining in the same sector. This can leave the door open for the employee to return, especially important if an employee was on a temporary contract. Alternatively, maintaining a professional relationship with former employees can create opportunities for referring new hires or work further down the line.
Offboarding an employee is never going to be a nice task on a company's to do list. But, by having a clear offboarding strategy you can make the whole process easier for you, your company as a whole and your employee. A PEO or an EOR can help with employee management and therefore both onboarding and offboarding employees, taking the stress from your shoulders. Want to find out more? Contact our PEO experts today.