People Management

Offboarding: Managing Employee Departures Effectively

By Andrée-Anne Blais-Auclair April 6 2022

Offboarding has the power to create company ambassadors and shape your organization’s image.


Even so, this step is often neglected: only 8% of employees report that any special attention is paid to offboarding at the organization they work for.

Many companies roll out the red carpet when welcoming their new employees... only to quietly let them go when they leave.

When an employee’s departure is handled with care, he or she will be more likely to speak positively about the organization, or even to come back to it.

What is offboarding?

The definition of offboarding is simply the steps involved in an employee’s departure. The way offboarding is handled helps shape the employer brand by adding to or detracting from the company’s reputation, and therefore influences how potential candidates view the organization.

You might be reading this and wondering, “What so-called steps? Isn’t it just a matter of recovering the employees’ equipment and uniform, letting them go, and finding a replacement?” 😜

Let me tell you that there is so much more to consider.

How does offboarding shape the employer brand?

A study on the offboarding experience of employees found that:

A full 85% of employees would be willing to speak positively about a company they left, if their departure went well.

Departing employees wield great power. Their words can be favorable or harmful to your reputation. Negative remarks about a company are said to carry more weight than positive ones. This is called the negativity bias, i.e., the tendency to be more strongly affected by negative information than by positive information.

In addition to the potential referrals of departing employees, another important aspect is the influence of the departure on the rest of the team.

Right out of the gate, losing a player from your team destabilizes the existing balance and requires everyone to adjust. When the departure is handled carelessly, other employees may be demotivated or put off by this lack of consideration and respect. This feeling has a negative impact on the loyalty and engagement of your remaining employees.

A checklist for managing an employee’s departure

To manage an employee’s departure and effectively handle the offboarding process, have a checklist and give the departure as much importance as you would to onboarding.

Before the employee leaves

1. Inform other supervisors as soon as you as you find out that one of your employees is leaving;

2. Determine together the expectations associated with the departure, the time frame before leaving, what needs to be done first, any projects or tasks to be completed, etc.

3. Determine or ask the employee for an official departure date, preferably allowing some time for knowledge transfer;

4. Draft a confirmation of termination if you want to put the departure in writing, and write up a termination letter in the case of a termination;

5. Inform other employees in the department or the rest of the company;

6. Organize the knowledge transfer period: How will the knowledge be passed on in order to optimize the next employee’s arrival?

7. Have an exit interview conducted by a third party. Here are some questions to ask during an exit interview;

8. If the departure is taking place in good terms, plan an event, or at least offer a gift or letter to thank the employee for their work; and

9. Concurrently, you should also be preparing for the next hire. Check out this article that details the different steps in the recruitment process.

The day of the departure

1. Remove the departing employee’s access credentials;

2. Collect their equipment or uniform; and

3. Give them any required legal documents if applicable.

The red carpet, from start to finish

Many companies make the mistake of pulling out all the stops when hiring in order to impress a new arrival, but then considering an employee who is leaving as an unnecessary expenditure of energy and time.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In this day and age, your employer brand is more important than ever in the recruitment process, and it is shaped by both your existing employees and those who leave your organization. Put some heart into your employee offboarding process—you’ll be glad you did.


Further reading

  • Who hasn’t experienced the havoc wreaked by a sudden departure? Always remember that the impacts of the departure don’t extend solely to the employee or even the employer. The rest of the team members inevitably experience the turmoil in various ways as well.

It is imperative to keep the remaining employees engaged by talking to them and keeping them informed of the next steps. To take good care of the rest of your team and minimize the imbalance caused by the loss of a team member, check out this post on 5 strategies for managing an employee’s departure.

  • If you have to fire one of your employees, explore the 10 key points to keep in mind for a proper dismissal, in our post about the 10 commandments of dismissal.

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