Offboarding is inevitable. Everyone wishes they could keep their stellar employees forever. But change happens, new opportunities arise, and people make career shifts.
Offboarding is as equally important as onboarding. The employee-employer relationship continues beyond an employee’s last day. They might be leaving the company, but they will continue to bolster their former company’s reputation as they speak about their previous position. And who knows? Maybe a satisfied former employee will refer a rockstar new hire your way because of their good experience, or even might even return later on as a boomerang!
With many moving pieces, offboarding can get messy. There are different system accesses to revoke, company supplies to return, and a mountain of paperwork to file. All this needs to be accomplished in, usually, about two weeks. The entire process can quickly pivot from a bittersweet farewell to a headache of to-do lists and logistical matters.
Want to know how you can remove the headaches of a messy offboarding? Implementing a foolproof offboarding strategy full of templates and instructions is the way to go. Here’s how you can create a seamless offboarding experience.
What is offboarding?
Strictly put, offboarding is the process by which there is a formal separation between company and employee. Systems, documentation, and even laptops need to be revoked or returned to the company. For HR, there is often a massive list of items to check off before an employee’s last day. For the employee’s team and manager, there is a transition of tasks, responsibilities, and knowledge.
Offboarding involves a lot of moving parts. Compared to onboarding, the offboarding process needs to happen in a far shorter time frame even though the task list is similar in size. If these pieces aren’t tracked and stored effectively, you run the risk of missing key elements, leaving team members and customers hanging, or having a disgruntled former employee. It’s better to play it safe and have a clear-cut, organized offboarding experience right from the start.
“Offboarding is a crucial stage of the employee lifecycle, not only as an opportunity to gain insights that help us learn and grow as an organization, but also because it could be the last impression we leave with Guru alumni.”
- Elyssa Lakin, Senior People Operations Generalist at Guru
Why is it important to offboard an employee well?
Not only is it important that everything gets done while offboarding, but it’s also important that it’s done well. At the end of the process, the departing employee should still feel valued by their company even as they’re moving on to new opportunities.
Seamless transition of responsibilities
While your team might be excited about their colleague’s new opportunity, losing a team member is a bummer and it can oftentimes be stressful. Who will take over their work? If they work with clients, what relationship information isn’t written down that is crucial for client transitions? The transfer of responsibilities, questions, and concerns from colleagues can quickly become overwhelming. A redistribution of tasks should begin as soon as an employee announces their departure.
It's a literal all hands on deck situation
If you need a run-down of the right things to focus on when you're redistributing work, make sure to focus on these important things:
- Ask them to take stock of their responsibilities, upcoming projects, daily tasks, and anything else on their plate.
- Communicate this information to a manager who can decide what work to delegate and what work can be placed on the back burner until the team has a new hire.
- Give the team ample time to adjust to new expectations, ask questions, and get settled with new responsibilities.
Leaving on a good note
A happy employee isn’t just a great asset when they’re working at your company. They continue to benefit the company far beyond their tenure as an employee. Why? Former employees who leave their company on a good note contribute to its overall reputation in the industry through word of mouth. If your company has a good reputation complete with a satisfactory work environment and capped off by simple offboarding procedures, you’ll stand out to potentially great new employees.
No information silos
Document your knowledge from day one. No one is a stranger to frustrations of lost documentation or process knowledge due to information silos. This happens when only one person has a piece of knowledge and they leave the company still being the only person with that information. One of the largest hurdles in offboarding is retaining company knowledge and maintaining strong customer relationships.
The situation creates an unparalleled headache for the remaining team when they need that information and it’s nowhere to be found. At Guru, we solve this problem by practicing what we preach. It’s common practice here for each employee to document processes, objectives, and guidelines that their colleagues might need in the future. Take this approach at your company and your team will thank you, we promise.
Helpful opportunities for feedback
Most offboarding processes conclude with an exit interview near or on the employee’s final day. This is your chance to get feedback on the offboarding process as well as the employee’s overall experience working at the company. Encourage honest reviews at this moment. Anything offboarding employees say can be taken to further improve the process. There’s also the chance they don’t have anything aside from great things to say. If this is the case, recognize it as a job well done.
“If you want to make changes to your offboarding process, do it and do it now. There’s never a better time to make changes than when it is relevant, and time-sensitive delivery will have an immediate impact.”
- Elyssa Lakin, Senior People Operations Generalist at Guru
Leaves a lasting impression
As we mentioned earlier, the employee-employer relationship goes far beyond an employee’s last day. Reputation matters in every industry and former employees perpetuate that reputation as they move forward in their careers. The offboarding process has an opportunity to leave a lasting impression on employees as they say goodbye to their former role and team.
Strive for an ending as satisfying as the one for Toy Story 3
What are potential pain points when offboarding?
There may always be pain points during offboarding, but there are ways to mitigate these headaches. Clear, templated processes and good communication are at the core of clean-cut offboarding. By taking common setbacks into consideration as you develop the offboarding process, you can solve them before they even become problems.
Recovering company assets
If you’ve lent out a laptop, desk monitor, keyboard, or any additional office equipment, you’ll need to retrieve those items as part of the offboarding process. Assets could include:
- ID badges
- Mouse and keyboard
- Company credit cards
- Parking permits
- Company phones
Make sure to keep a master list on hand of all the assets that have been given to employees throughout their tenure. Use this list as a reference to have these assets returned.
Removing systems access
Revoking systems access might be the most tedious of processes. This can include email, project or task management software, and any other system your company uses in its day-to-day activities. It’s highly effective to have a documented procedure with precise step-by-step instructions for how to remove system access.
Pro tip: Try automating parts of the offboarding process that don’t require a human touch. A great way to accomplish this is by partnering Asana and Guru!
Avoiding an overwhelmed team
This look is never a good sign
When a team member announces their departure, there is an inevitable flurry of questions. Colleagues want to know who will take over their tasks, how projects will be completed with one less person, and when they can welcome a new hire. To avoid overwhelming the team, make sure they are informed of the departure as far in advance as possible. This provides enough space to ask questions and reevaluate processes before their coworker leaves.
Loss of knowledge and experience
It’s hard when a team member leaves. They might take years of experience and company best practices with them. There is a loss of productivity when a team deals with knowledge turnover and personnel transitions. Every single team member has to make adjustments. The best way to combat this is to store and share knowledge straight from day one. Don’t leave your team members in the dark. Everyone wins when you document and share knowledge.
How should I offboard an employee?
Now, let’s dive into the specifics of offboarding. What exactly do you need to do when offboarding an employee?
Plan ahead, communicate with team and company
Communication, communication, communication – the better the communication, the less stress there is throughout the entire offboarding process. Set a company culture of giving plenty of notice prior to departure. More time is always appreciated.
Have a clear process for communicating with the team and company about an employee's departure. As soon as you receive a formal resignation letter that an employee is leaving, it’s time to kick off the offboarding process. Two weeks are going to fly by so plan ahead to alleviate problems before they arise.
Ensure employee knowledge is documented
Some knowledge is known across the company, but some knowledge is based on an individual’s experience and personal discoveries for best practices. Set a standard for leaving employees to assess and document their knowledge. Throughout an employee’s time at a company, encourage the creation of documentation and processes. Make this information public and editable.
This creates an environment with multiple minds collaborating to establish a process that functions well for everyone. The exchange of knowledge is paramount to keep processes running smoothly. When someone leaves a company and takes important knowledge with them, the entire team loses out.
At Guru, this looks like ensuring the departing employee is not the only person responsible for their Cards. They should take stock of their Card responsibilities and redistribute them to their team. Different user types will have different offboarding needs. By having these offboarding needs stored as knowledge, the entire process can progress without questions or setbacks.
Conduct an exit interview
An exit interview is among the final steps of an offboarding process. Here is where HR or managers can ask questions about the employee's experience working at the company and why they’ve chosen to leave. Consider asking some of the following questions:
- Why did you begin looking for a new job?
- What led you to take a new position?
- Do you feel equipped to do your new job well?
- What is your opinion about our company culture?
- If you could change anything about the job or company what would it be?
- Were you satisfied with your manager and team here?
Pro tip: Always include a lead interviewer and a note-taker in the exit interview. This is a rare opportunity to record feedback. Taking detailed notes allows you to capture actionable feedback as thoroughly as possible.
These questions can shed light on an employee’s experience at an organization. If they have recommendations for improvement, take those into consideration. If they have nothing but amazing things to say about their experience, nice work.
How does Guru help offboard employees?
At Guru, we follow a simple set of steps to offboard employees effectively. The employee, their manager, IT, Finance, and People Ops all have a role in the offboarding process. Guru works from a set of prebuilt Cards that work as guidelines for a team member’s smooth departure. We keep Cards on hand to streamline the process, easily access offboarding information, and share knowledge between People Ops and the departing employee. That said, what information should you keep within easy reach?
- Offboarding procedures, including tasks for all parties involved in the offboarding
- Email templates for departing employees
- Exit interview calendar invites
- Exit interview templates and guidelines
- Links to an Asana offboarding template
Pro tip: Tools are your friend when keeping organized during the offboarding process. Use a project management system along with a knowledge management system, like Guru, to track the progress of offboarding an employee.
Who is involved in offboarding at Guru?
Offboarding is a team effort
The departing employee, their manager, and People Ops all have a role in the offboarding process. A series of private Cards in Guru maintained by People Ops help facilitate offboarding. Here is what each party is responsible for:
A manager will immediately begin working on a transition plan with the departing employee and determine fair redistribution of their tasks throughout the rest of the team. They will create a list of tools to remove access and complete an exit interview debrief with People Ops.
Departing team member
Step one for a departing team member is to send a formal resignation letter to People Ops. Following this, they begin working through a transition of their tasks with their manager and teammates. The systems where they have access will be revoked. They will also transfer Guru Card responsibility. Finally, they will have their exit interview with People Ops.
Guru People Ops members have an Asana template that is copied and assigned upon a team member’s departure announcement. They will send a letter to the departing employee with important information regarding their transition, schedule an exit interview, and alert IT, Finance, and Talent departments of their leaving.
How does Guru use systems to offboard employees?
Keeping offboarding templates in your back pocket will always come in handy when it’s time to offboard an employee. Tools and systems, like Guru and your project management software, will streamline the entire process.
When a Guru employee announces their departure, step one is to kick off a task series in Asana. We insert the employee’s final date into the task template and Asana then assigns due dates to all offboarding tasks to ensure they’re completed on time. Each task has a brief title with a due date and links to related Guru cards in the task description for easy reference.
We also store information for colleagues of the departing team member. Guru cards like “What to expect when one of your team members resigns?” supports a team in managing the transition of responsibilities. Departing team members are encouraged to share every piece of knowledge they find relevant, this can be anything from project best practices to restaurant recommendations in a select city.
Saying goodbye to a colleague is bittersweet. A departing employee should spend the majority of their final two weeks at the company enjoying time with their colleagues and remembering all they accomplished. Let Guru streamline your offboarding process.