When evaluating the employee lifecycle, one element that is often overlooked is offboarding. This step can sometimes feel more like a transaction that lacks the energy and compassion that we are more used to seeing in other moments such as onboarding, development or advancement.
While I understand why some may prioritise these other stages, offboarding deserves time and attention. Aberdeen Research found that companies with an exit policy retain 71% of personnel, compared to 57% of those without one. It also found that organisations with an official process have 11% more engaged staff members than companies that do not.
A positive exit experience is growing increasingly important considering the expanding population of boomerang employees (or team members who leave a business for a period of time and return at a later date). 76% of Human Resources (HR) professionals are more accepting of this hiring trend today than they were in the past, and 40% of workers report that they would consider returning to a past employer.
To improve workforce engagement and the employee lifecycle at all stages, I invite HR teams to take inspiration from the Emergenetics® Attributes to design and implement an effective offboarding framework.
7 Opportunities to Enhance Offboarding
#1 – Create consistency.
71% of companies have no formal exit policy, which can cause challenges for managers, teams and HR professionals – as well as anyone with an appreciation for the Structural Attribute! It is also more challenging in hybrid and remote working environments as organisations must navigate transitions for those working from afar. Formalising offboarding procedures including interviews, technology transitions and paperwork will help to streamline the process and reduce confusion.
#2 – Humanise the procedures.
When a team member decides to move on, it can generate emotions for all who are impacted. Leaders may support a positive transition by finding ways to honour the departing employee whenever possible. From the Social perspective, it may be appreciated to celebrate or acknowledge their contributions with a goodbye lunch or happy hour, thank you gift or a collection of handwritten notes for their colleagues. If standard practices are set, be sure they are documented and shared with managers.
#3 – Embrace individuals as the experts.
From the lens of the Analytical Attribute, remember that each person has distinct insights and expertise to share. When someone chooses to leave an organisation, capture the institutional knowledge they bring to their role so that it is not lost with their departure. In addition to collecting these best practices and experiences, it may be useful to ask for their inputs on ways to better optimize their role or their work for future employees.
#4 – Create multiple feedback loops.
Personnel who are leaving are often less guarded in sharing opinions about what they liked, disliked or would change about the company, so be mindful to create space to listen to their honest feedback. I encourage leaders to provide a few channels for input to honour their workforce’s varying preferences for Expressiveness. Some options may include a traditional exit interview as well as written, anonymous surveys. That way, people may share their thoughts in the ways that feel most appropriate.
#5 – Identify what is trending to make adjustments.
The Conceptual Attribute invites us to think about the future. Using the information gleaned in exit interviews as well as transitional conversations, HR leaders may identify trends in their workforce and make improvements for the long term. The information can also reveal specific challenges that the business or team needs to address as well as bright spots within certain departments that can be applied company-wide.
#6 – Maintain a steady flow.
From the list of considerations above it is evident that are multiple elements and people involved in offboarding from managers and colleagues to HR and IT, and more! HR professionals who are formalising exit processes can lean into the Assertiveness Attribute by setting clear timelines and milestones around transitions and procedures. It is also important that they communicate regularly with each contributing team member to ensure deadlines are met.
#7 – Create a transition plan.
The departing individuals are not the only ones impacted by offboarding. The coworkers who remain must also be considered. I invite HR teams to honour the Flexibility Attribute by partnering with managers to identify the specific impacts to staff who are staying on. Create a transition plan to describe what is “tight” and “loose” by identifying responsibilities that must be reassigned and continued as well as tasks or initiatives that may need to be delayed or paused.
Even the companies that have the best cultures in the world will have turnover, so it is essential to develop a robust offboarding process. In doing so, HR professionals will promote a positive experience for those team members who are leaving as well as those who remain, thereby enhancing the culture for all.
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