A formal process for managing the end of an employee’s lifecycle–offboarding–is an HR department’s diamond in the rough. They’re your last chance to capture honest feedback from an employee. But you should be doing more than just collecting data. “The organizations that get offboarding right are able to capture feedback and make it actionable,” says Lars Schmidt, Director of Talent Acquisition at NPR.
Offboarding should involve more than a casual lunch on an employee’s last day. If you want to identify opportunities for improvement in your organization’s process, structure and values–and to wrap up any loose ends–your exit process should be include three main components:
Administrative. Questions addressing administrative, legal and compliance items should be straightforward. Though goals for this portion of the interview will vary by employer, you should generally focus on: recovering company property; discussing severance pay and benefits options; and reviewing non-disclosure and non-compete agreements.
Strategic. Getting to the heart of an employee’s reasons often requires some digging. Spark constructive conversations by beginning with high-level question on these topics, and then peel back that onion with care:
- Are employees connected to the company culture? Is decision making aligned with company values?
- Are there things the company should change regarding compensation, succession planning, or work/life balance? Would those changes have persuaded the employee to stay?
Tactical. When handled effectively, offboarding presents a great opportunity to gauge the efficacy of your everyday processes. In the case of employees being asked to leave, Schmidt says, “You want to get a sense of why things didn’t work out from the employee’s perspective. Maybe they weren’t in the right role. We as employers shouldn’t assume that fault is solely on the employee.” And If you handle these situations with care, departing employees can provide some perspective on how the employer can recruit candidates that would be a better mutual fit.
Ending Employment Shouldn’t End Relationship
Regardless of where an employee is going or why, Schmidt advises doing what you can to end things on a good note. “You want to maintain those ties, and oftentimes there are bounce-back employees.” Although you’ll definitely come across a bad apple from time to time, respect and professionalism will go a long way toward closing this chapter of an employee’s career on a positive note.