We all want to deliver an effective Employee Experience — which is why we build a great onboarding program into the beginning of the active employee lifecycle. But what about the experience we create for those who have approached the end of their employee lifecycle?
Whereas onboarding can set employees up for success in a new role, offboarding can set the organization up for success during an employee departure. Designing a formal process to transition employees out of your organization is important for future recruitment, company reputation, and business performance.
Today’s job candidates rely on social media and databases like Glassdoor to learn more about the companies they consider working for. According to a 2016 Glassdoor U.S. site survey, 70% of job candidates look to company reviews before they make career decisions.
Many of those company reviews are written by former employees — and while you might not have control over what they write, you do have control over the offboarding experience your organization delivers and the post-departure relationship that remains.
To deliver an effective offboarding experience to departing employees, the process must be approached thoughtfully and strategically.
Which starts with creating a consistent and repeatable offboarding process.
From the moment you receive a resignation notice or organize an involuntary departure, it’s important to have a system in place to quickly and effectively handle the upcoming employee exit. Concentrating on delivering a consistent, employee-focused offboarding experience will leave a positive, lasting impression on former employees — inviting them to endorse your brand, serve as a great referral source, and even consider your organization as a future employer.
Thankfully, purpose-built technology can streamline the paperwork and admin involved in offboarding, automate workflows, and offer a smooth knowledge transfer. This way, People Ops teams can focus their attention on creating a positive experience for departing staff.
What should you communicate to a departing employee?
According to Officevibe, the number one reason employees leave their job is because they don’t feel appreciated. Though it might be too late to retain the departing employee, it is still important to communicate your appreciation. Let them know that you’re thankful for the time and work they’ve put in during their employment.
This not only sets the right tone for an amicable and professional departure, but it also encourages departing employees to remain engaged and productive during their notice period. Showing departing employees that you’re appreciative and supportive can also motivate them to invest more time and effort into training whoever may be taking over their role — leading to a faster ramp-up time for their replacement.
Listen to what departing employees have to say.
If you regularly measure employee engagement through check-ins and surveying, an employee’s departure shouldn’t be the first time you’re learning about their workplace concerns. However, exit interviews offer valuable data — highlighting common themes that might be provoking voluntary departures. Gathering and addressing this feedback is important for retaining employees in the future.
For an effective exit interview, People Ops should create a comfortable environment that encourages honesty and welcomes criticism.
A few exit interview questions to consider:
- - Was there a particular event that inspired your departure?
- - How was your relationship with your manager?
- - What did you enjoy most about working here?
- - What did you dislike about working here?
- - Why did you begin looking for a new job?
- - Did we equip you to do your job well?
- - What could we have done differently that would have encouraged you to remain with the organization?
After a one-on-one sit down with the departing employee, it’s important to follow through. Summarize main points of each interview to leadership and keep track of recurring themes so that you can address common problems and prevent future turnover.
Many companies like to celebrate a new hire’s onboarding with swag packs and welcome lunches — offboarding should be celebrated too.
Whether the departure is voluntary or involuntary, celebrating a departing employee’s tenure will send them off with positive feelings surrounding your organization. On their last week of employment, be sure to organize a goodbye event — such a lunch or happy hour, so that departing employees can enjoy closure with their team. And on their last day, gift departing employees with a small present or personalized card signed by the entire team or office, so that they leave with a tangible reminder of the company’s appreciation for them.
Equip for an ongoing relationship.
Successful companies understand the value of their alumni and strategically approach these ongoing relationships. For example, Chevron has created a Bridges program in which former employees can opt-in to be exclusively considered for contract assignments. This not only offers Chevron a proven talent pool of cultural fits, but it is a great opportunity for alumni to gain valuable consulting experience while furthering the relationship with their former employer.
Before an employee departs, make sure all of their contact details are all up-to-date, and they are admitted into your alumni portal. Ongoing communication through an alumni portal is a great way to forge a lasting relationship with departing employees — inviting them to stay current with company news and continue networking around the organization. This ongoing relationship can also benefit the success of your referral program, as People Ops will have wider access to talent when recruiting.
Some best practices for ongoing alumni engagement include:
- - There are around 118,000 corporate alumni LinkedIn groups, including 98% of the Fortune 500s. Invite exiting employees to join a LinkedIn alumni group before their last day to ensure their participation. Here they can learn about new projects and company updates, connect with their former colleagues, and stay up-to-date on current job openings — encouraging them to make referrals or apply themselves.
- - Consider hosting an annual alumni mixer so that former employees can visit the office, reconnect with old colleagues, and be reminded of your company culture while celebrating their association with your organization. In-person events are an effective way to keep your company relevant to former employees who can further its reputation.
A great employee experience shouldn’t end with a resignation. For an effective offboarding experience, People Ops should turn focus away from the administrative process and towards the departing employee. Want to learn more about how Sapling can streamline your employee offboarding processes?