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The Benefits of Creating an “Offboarding” Plan for Your Employees

August 1, 2017

employee offboarding

When an employee leaves your company, it is in your best interest to help this person with their transition from their job at your company. Whether they are being fired for performance/behavior, downsized for financial reasons or leaving the company voluntarily, “offboarding” the people who work for you will be greatly appreciated by your employees and promote a happy, transparent workplace.

Only 25% of companies have formal offboarding policies in place, and these companies are leaving themselves open to potential reputation damage. The prevalence of employer review sites like Glassdoor should not be under-estimated, and the peer reviews that employees leave on these sites are some of the first pieces of information that job seekers will evaluate when considering your company.

Other than potential reputation damage, not offboarding employees can mean losing them as potential contacts in the future for referrals and connections to companies in your industry.

Here are the major benefits of creating on offboarding plan for employees who are fired and who leave voluntarily:

  • Damage control: When you offer job seeking and/or professional coaching resources to terminated employees, these employees are much less likely to tarnish your company’s reputation. After all, they want another job and, since you’re helping them get it, they owe you one.
  • Improved Employer Branding: Having an official offboarding procedure is great for your company’s employer brand. It shows outside talent that your company cares about its workers and the process of leaving the company is just as straight forward as joining.
  • Growing Your Company’s Professional Network: When you don’t offboard an employee who’s quitting, being downsized or voluntarily leaving, you are forsaking them as a contact in the future. Though they may choose to be a contact, most will choose to forget about you after they’ve gotten the references they need to get their next job.

What is An Offboarding Plan?

An offboarding plan is like an onboarding plan for when employees are fired, laid off or quit for professional or personal reasons.

While you may not see the benefit of offering job seeking resources to someone who has been fired for behavioral reasons, giving all departing employees the option to use these resources is essential. No matter why someone is let go, providing resources to help them find another job demonstrates your company’s commitment to its employees and helps to provide you with the offboarding benefits we just discussed in the last section. If an employee truly wants nothing to do with your company anymore, they are free to not use the offboarding resources your company offers and make their merry way.

An effective offboarding plan has employee friendly procedures laid out for the major reasons that your employees will leave their jobs:

  • They found another job.
  • They are changing careers and/or going back to school.
  • They are quitting because of a family/domestic/personal issue that demands their time.
  • They are being fired for behavior/ethics/performance issues.
  • They are being laid off for financial reasons.
  • They are retiring.

The offboarding procedures for many of these scenarios will end up being similar, but a one-size-fits all approach is sure to leave you with some blind spots and unhappy former employees.

The Right Offboarding Plan for Your Company

The right offboarding plan for your company is one that takes the needs of your employees into account and supports their transition to their next job and their next stage of life. 

The needs of your employees will vary based on company-wide factors like what industry you’re in and on personal factors for each employee who leaves your company.

Here are the questions that will reveal the needs of your employees:

Company-Wide Needs of Employees

  • What industry do you operate in?
    • Is this an industry with many job openings?
    • Is this an industry that requires extensive vetting of new employees?
    • Is this industry largely concentrated in a few regions?
  • What job seeking and career coaching resources will your employees need?
    • What resources will your employees need that wouldn’t be required at other companies?

Individual Needs of Employees

  • What level of seniority is the employee?
  • What is the employee planning to do?
  • What references/support will they need to accomplish their offboarding goals?
  • What special considerations apply to this employee?

No matter what the needs of an employee are, the procedure for offboarding that employee should meet these basic requirements:

Offboarding Plan for Employees who are Fired or are Downsized

  1. The employee is notified by a direct manager (if possible/appropriate) that they are being let go and the reason that they are being let go.
  2. The employee is notified of the expectations that you have for their remaining time at your company and the effective date of their termination.
  3. The employee is offered job seeking resources (references, time to look for jobs and interview, access to industry-specific job boards, etc.) and professional development resources (programs to learn new skills, access to career coaching services, etc.).

Offboarding Plan for Employees Who Leave Voluntarily

  1. The employee informs their manager that they are planning to leave their job and provides a realistic timeline for this plan and the resources they will need to execute this plan.
  2. The employee works with their manager to find an effective end date for their employment that allows the employee to finish the work they need to do to support their team.
  3. The employee uses the job seeking and professional development resources your company offers to find their next job and quits their job without leaving burned bridges or unfinished work behind.

How to Talk to Employees About Your Offboarding Plan

A comprehensive offboarding plan can put your employees at ease, but it can also be intimidating.

Employees who worked for your company before you created the offboarding plan and new hires may want to know why you have an offboarding plan and, if you don’t tell them, they’ll assume that it’s because you’re planning to fire a lot of people.

The purpose of your offboarding plan is to support the career transitions of your employees and your employees need to know this.

Instead of leaving their job being an awkward or emotional process, employees will know they are at the beginning of your offboarding proceedings, confident that your company will support their job or life transition as much as possible in the offboarding period.

VP of Marketing at Digital Astronauts Ronny Cheng is one of the Co-Founder's of Digital Astronauts and has helped drive lead generation in the software industry for organizations of all sizes -- from start-ups to Fortune 500's. He helped build one of the first online software review websites, specializing in CRM, ERP, and HR software. He's a nationally published author with extensive experience working with the HR/Recruiting industries largest brands. In his spare time, you can catch him on Instagram doing his best food blogger impersonation.
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