What is Offboarding? Employee Offboarding Process Advice and Checklist

Offboarding process guide and checklist

Organisations that put their people first will always get better recruitment and retention results. Even when someone is leaving the organisation, whether it’s retirement, another job offer, redundancy, or anything else, it’s important to remember this too is part of the employee experience and directly impacts your employer brand. While you may have heard of an onboarding process, you should know that creating an employee offboarding process can be just as important.

Employee turnover is inevitable, and while there are ways you can improve retention, there will always be people who eventually leave the organisation. Implementing an effective offboarding will help to ensure that when this time comes, you’ll set both the former employee and employer up for success by ensuring a smooth transition. It will also allow you to leave the relationship on a positive note, which can open up new referral opportunities in the future. 

How can you create an impactful offboarding experience? Read on to find out!

What is an offboarding process?

Before we get to that, it’s important to understand what exactly an offboarding process entails. It includes all the processes and decisions that must take place when an employee leaves. 

This can include:

  • Transferring that employee’s responsibilities to another person/s.
  • Returning company-owned equipment
  • Deactivating access rights, accounts, and passwords.
  • Holding exit interviews to gather their feedback.

Essentially, the offboarding process is designed to ensure that there are no loose ends when an employee leaves the company. The last thing you want is to be emailing a former employee asking for their laptop to be returned, or realising that someone outside the organisation has had access to sensitive internal documents after their employment. Having a formal process in place will help to ensure this transition is smooth and allows you to gather information to further improve the employee experience for existing and future team members.

How are onboarding and offboarding related?

You can think of Onboarding and Offboarding as the bookends that mark the start and end of an employee’s tenure at your organisation. 

The onboarding process involves setting an employee up with systems and equipment, introducing them to the team and organisational culture, and getting them up to speed. 

On the other hand, offboarding involves revoking systems access and returning equipment, evaluating their experience at your organisation, and ensuring an effective transfer of their responsibilities and knowledge. 

Both are vital parts of the employee experience. Basically, the more effort you put into designing these processes, the more rewards you will reap.

Why is employee offboarding important?

After a team member has left your organisation, they can either be an advocate or a critic of your workplace. Ensuring that things end on a positive note can help push them towards the former, which can lead to a better employer brand, referrals, and the opportunity to lure them back one day. Offboarding is also important for organisational security, serving to ensure that any confidential information, data, and processes are secure. 

A good offboarding process will minimise the disruption caused by an employee leaving, ensuring that all of their knowledge and responsibilities are transferred to a successor. It can also contribute to positive company culture by demonstrating the organisation’s care and providing the opportunity to improve upon this when receiving feedback in the exit interview.

Employee Offboarding Checklist

  • Communicate to other team members

    It’s important to not delay in informing the team if an employee is leaving. The last thing you want is for gossip and rumours to begin circulating. Send out an email, hold a meeting, or otherwise inform the team of who is leaving, when this is happening, who will be taking over their responsibilities, and if it's appropriate, let them know the reason for departure.

    It’s particularly important to communicate this to the employee’s direct team, managers, and subordinates, as well as anyone managing payroll and IT, who may have their own offboarding processes to carry out.

    For senior managers or customer-facing roles, you may also need to communicate this departure to other stakeholders, whether it's a public statement, an email to clients, or a phone call for the sake of transparency. Whatever the case, it’s important to get on top of communications - the announcement should come from the organisation before harmful rumours get the opportunity to spread.

  • Prepare the necessary documents

    Ensure that you prepare and retain the letter of resignation or termination as well as any non-disclosure agreements, as these protect both the employer and employee. Having these on hand is important, and they can be easily stored in your applicant tracking system.

    You’ll also be legally obligated to provide the employee with a certificate of service, final pay information, and any contracts if they request it. Other documents you should prepare include a reference letter (if relevant), tax information and any benefits records.

  • Organise a transfer of knowledge

    Ideally, you’ve already got a successor in mind who is able to take over the responsibilities of the departing employee. If so, you should ensure that the last days of this employee’s tenure are spent training and passing on skills. If not, you can still have the departee prepare documents, processes, and contacts to help their eventual replacement take over.

    How this knowledge transfer occurs will depend largely on the role itself. Technical roles such as IT or Marketing can be easily documented, but customer-facing or management roles can be a bit harder to pass on without direct guidance. You could consider helping to prepare video materials or demonstrations if this is the case. Either way, keep in mind that it is important to be as thorough as possible. Your former employee is unlikely to be of much help once they have left for good.

    If there are any projects or processes that are currently underway, ensure these are completed or allocated to the right person. Whether it’s a team member of theirs, a manager, or a direct report, ensure this person is prepared with the information they need to carry out their task.

  • Retrieve company property

    Keep a record of all the assets the employee has in their possession that need to be returned. While the employee themselves are responsible for returning these things, ensure someone else from the organisation is following up and keeping track of what is returned.

    Some common things to consider include:
    • Laptops and computers
    • Mobile phones
    • Uniforms
    • Keycards and keys
    • Company credit cards
    • Parking permits

  • Work with IT to remove access

    Ensure that your organisation’s privacy and security are protected by removing all of a departing employee’s access to classified information. Remember that in addition to any personal accounts and access that an employee had, there will also be shared passwords that may need to be changed.
    Work with IT to identify, remove, or change anything that needs it, including:

    • Deactivating their personal company email address
    • Changing passwords for any shared accounts they had access to
    • Notifying any internal or external points of contact of the personnel change
    • Setting up an email redirect
    • Removal from company calendar and meeting invitations
    • Updating any organisational charts, team web pages, and social media accounts.

  • Conduct an exit interview.

    An exit interview is an opportunity to learn from the departing employee about what they really think. Try to have an honest conversation about what they feel can be improved upon. While some employees may not give useful feedback since it no longer affects them, others may give valuable, honest insights now that they no longer have a horse in the race.

    Encourage candidness and honesty to get the best results and glean useful information that will help with retention and engagement.

  • Show goodwill

    You can organise a gift, a goodbye card, or even hold a farewell party to send off a valued member of your team. Make sure that the person leaves feeling appreciated for their contributions. Doing this will help ensure they speak positively about you as an employer to others and continue being an ambassador for your brand.

    Not only does this send the employee off on a positive note, it also shows your other team members how much the organisation appreciates its employees. You need to show that every member of the team is valued as an individual, not just another resource to be easily replaced.

  • Facilitate boomerang opportunities

    If the departing employee is leaving on positive terms and is someone who the organisation would value having back, make sure to leave the door open. When an employee leaves, and then returns to a company, we call this a boomerang employee. Involving your departees in alumni groups, maintaining social network connections, and keeping them updated with email communications can help to facilitate this.

    Boomerang employees can be an excellent way to source candidates, particularly in a talent-short market. This is even better if it comes later in their career when they have grown in experience, knowledge and connections.

Final Thoughts

While most organisations have an onboarding process, many don’t realise that having an effective offboarding process can be just as important. Doing so helps improve your employer brand and ensures a smooth transfer of responsibilities, as well as protecting your organisation’s security, assets, and information. 


We hope you found this article and our offboarding checklist helpful. If you need a hand hiring a replacement employee, or simply looking to grow, take a look at our free recruitment marketplace

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