A guide to graceful exits and last impressions

Jun 15, 2018
min read

Employees are a company’s most important source of competitive advantage; this is because human capital takes about seven years for a competitor to mimic. As a result, when an employee leaves the organization, a proper offboarding procedure is just as crucial as onboarding.

Offboarding refers to the process of transitioning a current employee out of the organization and integrating their replacement into that role. Similar to how a good first impression promotes employee retention, a good last impression can leave the door open for an employee to return or become your company’s brand ambassador. In light of this, a proper offboarding program can set you apart from your competitors, all while ensuring the process is consistent across the board, limiting the possibility of discrimination or foul play.

What is the purpose of a checklist?

First impressions are important, but so are the last ones. The purpose of an offboarding plan is to not only ensure security and transfer of knowledge, but to give a proper goodbye and constantly improve the employee experience at your company. 

A well-structured offboarding process with a checklist to cross off all the do’s can make things hassle-free for HR, all while giving the exiting employee a pleasant experience. 

Employee offboarding steps for HR leaders

So let’s get into it. Here’s a checklist of everything you need to remember when offboarding an employee:

1. Formally receive and accept resignation/termination letter

When an employee voluntarily decides to leave the organization, they must provide the employer with a notice. To ensure legal compliance and to remove any foul play, ensure managers and HR formally accept the resignation letter by issuing a written statement accepting the employee’s resignation.

Where an employee leaves the company due to termination, make sure all paperwork regarding termination is formally written and accepted by the employee. To maintain compliance, HR should keep an employee’s records for a minimum of five years. Keeping these records will protect the employer should there be any questions about an employee’s exit from the organization.

2. Communicate exit to others as soon as possible

In many instances, companies will forget to alert payroll and benefits administrators, and they will continue to pay or offer parting employees with benefits even after they are long gone.

To avoid this, once the exit of an employee is finalized, communicate this information to those that need to remove the employee from the organizational systems.

TIP: With Humi, you can set reminders to notify respective departments.

In most cases, the people who should be notified are the following: IT, payroll, benefit administrators, HR, managers, security, and relevant team members.

Alerting security of the employee’s exit will help avoid any security concerns, especially if the employee’s exit ends on bad terms. Letting the employee’s colleagues know of their co-worker's departure will help prevent any miscommunication and rumors from spreading around. If the employee is leaving voluntarily, communicate their exit with the team and wish them the best of luck in their next adventure; this will help create an excellent last impression for the parting employee and the remaining employees.

3. Transfer knowledge

Provide the parting employee with the time and resources to transfer their knowledge by recording essential information or by having the employee mentor another. Create a plan as to how the transfer of knowledge is to be carried out and stick to it. Managers and HR should consider the fact that more intricate knowledge will take longer to transfer. As a result, employment contracts for positions with more intricate knowledge should include longer notice periods.

4. Recover company assets

Make sure you collect all company property from the departing employee; this may range from company laptops, credit cards, uniforms, parking permits, or company vehicles. Doing so will remove any security concerns that may arise and will ensure the company’s brand isn't misrepresented.

5. Revoke organization privileges and access

Cybersecurity is of massive importance in preventing the leakage of valuable company information. As a result of revoking access to any shared drives or company platforms, we eliminate the risk of having employees who are no longer with the organization to have access to any sensitive data. Revoking all organizational privileges will help decrease any undesired behaviours that may arise during the offboarding process.

6. Update organizational chart, website, and other company information

Update company information by removing the employee from any pending invitations, organizational charts, emails, etc. Redirecting emails or calls will facilitate the transition of the employee out of the organization and the transition of their replacement into that role.

7. Finalize financial details including any outstanding money owed and final payment details

Pay out any outstanding debts or reimbursements owed to the employee, and make sure the employee also pays any outstanding money they may owe the company. It will give you peace of mind if you do this beforehand, as it will ensure everything is taken care of and dealt with before the employee departs from the organization.

8. Clarify entitlements, if any

During termination or when accepting an employee’s resignation letter, make sure you clarify if the employee is entitled to any benefits or monetary compensation after their departure from the organization. If employees are entitled to such benefits, clarify the extent to which these entitlements are to occur and for how long after the employee’s departure.

9. Provide parting documents

Legally speaking, you are obligated to provide parting employees with a certificate of service, final pay information, and copies of employment contract, if requested. You are not obligated to provide parting employees with reference letters, but how much documentation you provide the employee will depend on the circumstances of their separation from the company. 

10. Conduct an exit interview

Employees leave for a reason. It is valuable to learn why an employee is choosing to part, and what they think your organization can improve. Make sure to schedule an exit interview with the parting employee where you can ask them for honest feedback. Based on the feedback you obtain, share it with the organizational leaders, and come up with a plan to make the appropriate changes or follow through where needed. 

Address any complaints that may have been brought up, and make sure to eliminate such issues. If you cannot schedule an in-person interview, ask them to fill out a survey where you can collect all of their feedback. Continuous organizational improvement is critical in ensuring success and obtaining employee feedback is the best way to go about it.

TIP: it is a good idea to send the parting employee with the list of questions beforehand, so they have time to reflect on their answers.

11. Thank your employee for their service

Employees have put a lot of time and effort into their jobs, and they deserve to be recognized for it. Thank them by having a going away party, a thank you card, a parting gift, or a token of your appreciation. Showing the employee your appreciation for their hard work will allow them to see you in a favourable light, where they are willing to return or promote you with their network. Thanking them for their time will also help keep morale high, where others may not be as happy about the separation.

Learn more with Humi

For more information on improving your company culture and employee experience, dive into the resources below: 

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About the Author
Katherine GarciaKatherine Garcia

Katherine is a Client Experience Intern at Humi, is secretly obsessed with tigers, has a passion for learning new things, and is at the finish line for getting her CHRP.

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