HR leaders spend 8x more time creating, implementing, and administering onboarding programs compared to offboarding programs. While onboarding programs are essential to an employee’s ramp time and continued success at the company, offboarding is an area that should not be overlooked. Organizations with formal offboarding programs reported higher retention rates and greater percentages of "highly engaged" employees.

According to SBI research, HR leaders and their teams spend 8x more time creating, implementing, and administering onboarding programs compared to offboarding programs. Onboarding programs are no doubt essential to an employee’s ramp time and continued success at the company. However, offboarding is an area that should not easily be overlooked. If you are reading this article and realize that your organization has no formal offboarding program in place today, you are not alone. According to Aberdeen research, only 29% of organizations have a formal offboarding program to transition employees out of a company. If you fall in the majority and want to create a structured offboarding program, read on.


Why are formal offboarding programs so important (especially since the employee has already decided to leave)? The goal of offboarding is not to win back an employee who is departing, but rather accomplish the five following goals:


  1. Ensure the departing employee’s knowledge is transferred to other members of the organization.
  2. Understand organizational strengths and weaknesses, and determine how they can be improved.
  3. Identify turnover issues early to implement corrective measures when possible.
  4. Gauge former employee brand perception and the impact that their views may have on the market.
  5. Leave the door open for “boomerang” employees who may wish to return to your company in the future.


Still not a believer in formal offboarding? According to the same Aberdeen research study, companies with formal offboarding programs demonstrated higher retention rates than those without them. The organizations with formal offboarding programs reported a greater percentage of “highly engaged” employees. These metrics indicate offboarding can have a material impact on your business.


If you want to get an offboarding program off the ground at your organization, SBI recommends using these best practices to guide your strategy.





Exit Interviews Are a Rich Source of Information That Should Be Used to Continuously Improve Your Organization


Employees are more open to sharing opinions after they have decided to leave an organization. They may feel that they can be more honest in sharing constructive feedback, as they no longer have “skin in the game.” Use exit interviews during employee offboarding to uncover rich insights on how your company can become better. This tool provides a template to guide exit interview discussions.


You can also use exit interviews to mitigate any negative perceptions the former employee may have. A worst-case scenario is having a former employee posting negative reviews of your company online. Negative posts can impact brand perception and future recruiting efforts. According to Glassdoor, 70% of job candidates look at company reviews to learn more about a company before working for them. Hence a formal process of positive employee transition helps business performance. Former employees write many company reviews, and while they cannot be controlled, they can be influenced by a positive departure and post-departure communications.


All Employees Should Go Through Offboarding, Whether the Reason for Their Departure Is Voluntary or Involuntary


The most common mistake companies make is only offboarding employees that leave voluntarily. While this employee group will undoubtedly provide valuable insights, retirees and involuntary separations can offer excellent feedback as well. Offboarding can be slightly customized based on the departure reason, but make sure it generally follows the same flow for all departures. By interviewing all employees regardless of why they depart you create a more holistic feedback loop. Though employees leaving involuntarily may not agree with the termination decision, they will feel greater respect if their departure is handled with as much care as those who leave voluntarily.


Create an Alumni Group to Engage with Former Employees


Former employees can serve a valuable purpose for organizations. They can generate candidate and client referrals, influence brand perception, and even provide guidance as the business expands. The best way to keep in touch with former employees is through a dedicated employee alumni group. The alumni group can be as simple as an email chain or Facebook group when you first start. More establish organizations should consider an online community platform to engage with former employees.


Leverage Technology to Streamline the Offboarding Process


Managing an offboarding program without technology will be cumbersome and time-consuming; leverage technology where possible to streamline processes. Using technology allows your program to scale, and enables you to gain more significant insights from exit interviews. Only 32% of organizations have a partially automated offboarding process, with only 5% having a fully automated offboarding process. These statistics indicate ample room to better leverage technology. Some areas where this technique can be particularly useful during offboarding include workflow automation, alumni portals, and exit interview surveys.


Still unsure about how to create a formalized offboarding program for your organization? Are you interested in talking to an SBI expert? Contact us to schedule time with an SBI resource today.


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Ellen Wade

Provides clients strategic and tactical support in uncovering new revenue opportunities allowing them to make their number.

Ellen is an experienced consultant with a demonstrated history working directly with executive-level clients to deliver implementable solutions for high priority business issues. Ellen uses a data-driven approach in developing solutions, often blending strategy, analytics, technology and creativity to ensure project success.  Most recently, she helped a Fortune-500 retailer integrate after the acquisition of a major competitor. Ellen aided the client in sustaining revenue growth while rationalizing operational costs, driving higher net profits for the business. The project also realized historic pre-merger customer service level metrics. Her client portfolio spans Retail, Government, Finance and Technology sectors.


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