The practicalities of handling employee departures
As we discussed in our previous post, employee turnover is more significant than ever in our post-coronavirus workplaces.
In this context, it’s important to get offboarding right. Effective onboarding helps ensure the smooth running of your business—and doing a bad job can create headaches that you never knew were coming.
This post will introduce a few key ideas for ensuring the smooth running of your offboarding process. Although you can’t create an exemplary process overnight, there are steps that can immediately improve the systems you already have.
Start planning for offboarding as soon as staff arrive
One recent survey showed that nearly 70% of respondents work for organisations in which onboarding takes place in isolation. This means it’s likely that your company doesn’t do enough to integrate your offboarding processes.
It may be counter-intuitive—but a great offboarding process begins when staff first arrive at your company. Your HR and management teams should be alert to the steps they must take, and the information they must gather.
If you can consistently record the way each employee contributes to your company, the equipment they look after, and the accounts they monitor—when the day comes, your offboarding will be much easier.
Deal with paperwork—and communicate well
Make sure you comply with the legal guidelines of a resignation, redundancy, or dismissal. In the UK, a resigning employee must give their notice in writing, and the company should clearly agree when their last day of work is, according to government guidelines.
You may also wish to enforce additional policies such as NDAs and non-compete clauses.
Make sure that your employee knows what to expect. An automated email advising of any actions that must take place is one great way of ensuring this happens.
Finally, nothing can sour an exit like a delayed final paycheque. Talk directly with your finance office to check that everything is in order.
Ensure the best knowledge transfer
However effective your HR department is, they won’t appreciate the specific knowledge held by your employee. It’s up to line managers to ensure that they retain a clear understanding of their departing employee’s work.
Your employee’s knowledge may include a list of important contacts, or the locations of important files. In some cases, an employee will be making a less tangible contribution to your company’s work through their specialist expertise.
Even for a widely-used application like Excel, HR experts recommend that specific cost-saving knowledge is worth an additional investment in time and money to ensure that an employee keeps their team up-to-date.
Transferring knowledge is challenging, so it’s important to start your offboarding process as early as possible. Whether you use an interview, a form, or a questionnaire to check in on your employee’s knowledge, don’t delay in finding out what must be done.
Don’t let loose ends dangle
Your knowledge transfer will help make a smooth transition after a staff member’s departure.
The staff member themselves should be able to prepare for most loose ends that may arise when they are gone.
In just a few minutes they can set up an auto reply, debrief their colleagues, or explain any managerial needs that will emerge from their absence. Yet those simple actions make the difference between your company looking professional, and incompetent.
Don’t be afraid to respectfully ask your employees to put these measures in place before their final day of work.
Make your exit interviews meaningful
Exit interviews are your last chance to benefit from their perspective: and there’s plenty you can do to make them count.
Offboarding research has found that exit interviews conducted by higher-ranking staff more frequently lead to actionable results. Improve exit interviews through good use of your management team—don’t just leave it up to HR.
Furthermore, it’s important to keep good records of your exit interviews. That way, it will be far easier to highlight problems and patterns that emerge over time.
Great offboarding is the start of great aftercare
While offboarding and aftercare are distinct elements of an employee’s departure, they complement one another.
Good offboarding shows respect and appreciation to former employees. Effective offboarding will make former staff much more likely to recommend your company, join an alumni network, or do business with you in future.
In our next post we will talk about employee aftercare, and how to make sure that your former employees think the best of your company long into the future.