We focus a lot on the onboarding experience in the EX community. It's often the first employee journey that's nominated for redesign when we engage with our clients.
But what about offboarding?
Does the employee experience include the transition out of your organization?
Let's start by exploring why the offboarding experience is so important.
Firstly, at some point in time, your employees will discuss their employee experience with their network, friends, and family. If the last experience was a bad one, the chances are that's the one they'll share first or the most. It's like customer service - you're more likely to share the bad experiences than good ones.
Similarly, employees don't just voice their opinions to their friends in person - they take it online. In recent years we've seen a real shift towards social media reporting of bad organizational practice and negative departures. Forums like Glassdoor and Reddit house threads of employee stories and honest insights.
What's stopping your ex-employees from sharing their offboarding experience online? More importantly, what's stopping your best candidates from reading about those experiences?
Lastly, your employees may well return to your organization. Alumni networks are becoming increasingly popular with organizations remaining connected to their ex-employees in hopes they may return one day or refer talent. Whilst previously shunned, welcoming your employees back adds to your organisations skill-set and produces more inspired and loyal employees (The Economist). It makes sense to leave them with a lasting good impression.
So, how can you design great offboarding experiences for your employees?
1. Invest time in the design.
It sounds simple but it's true. Offboarding is often the last employee journey on the list when it comes to experience design. We'd recommend investing some time in the redesign process. Understand the process steps required to offboard your employees and how they're all connected from a systems perspective. Think about the communications they receive, how often they receive them and who they're from. What about their last day? What if it's remote?
Much like the onboarding experience, if the process is disjointed it creates frustration. At its worst it makes your employees feel like you're rushing them out the door.
A well-designed process also helps mitigate any risks associated with company property.
2. Make it personal
Whilst unconventional, asking your employees how they'd like their last few weeks/months to be
with the business can be extremely powerful. Asking this question puts some of the control back into the hands of the employee during what is typically a very formal process of exiting a business. Whilst certain processes still have to be followed, you're giving your employee the opportunity to create a great leaving experience.
This is likely to drive a more amicable parting between your employee and the business, meaning they'll be more willing to remain productive during their notice period. They'll be more open to sharing their thoughts and suggestions and, they'll want to make an experience they control as positive as possible.
3. Say thanks!
If your employee is leaving on good terms, it's likely their team will say a big thanks and celebrate their last day. However, this isn't always the case especially in fast-moving/shift-based industries like retail and hospitality. Sending an email of thanks (even if it's automated) on behalf of the business is a really simple way of ensuring your employees feel valued when they're leaving.
4. Refresh your leaver's paperwork
Another simple but effective way of making the experience a little less sterile. Add a few lines in the leaving letter to say thanks for their hard work and commitment. Too often we read a legal-friendly offboarding letter and cringe at how cold and transactional it is. Sure, we know there are terms that have to be included but updating the tone and adding a message of thanks is easy and effective.
5. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
We often think about how we communicate directly with departing employees but spend very little time thinking about how their departure is announced. More specifically, how it's communicated to the wider business. Take time to think about how departure information is shared within your business and encourage your People Managers to take some ownership here.
Asking employees how they'd like the announcement to be managed is an effective way to ensure the narrative is transparent, fair, and considered. This helps minimize the risk of your departing employees feeling embarrassed, isolated, or detached from the business.
6. Go digital!
Having a comprehensive knowledgebase of offboarding articles and FAQs will help your departing employees understand the process that's ahead. Knowing what to expect helps to remove ambiguity or concern and leads to better, more efficient leaving experiences.
If you're looking to take it one step further, investing in a workflow management tool for this process will make it even easier. Employees will receive prompts and notifications throughout their final weeks without the administrative overhead and risk of inconsistency.
There you have it. 6 ways you can create better offboarding experiences for your employees.
In addition to the insights above, we'd recommend doing some internal research and external benchmarking on your offboarding experience. This will help ensure you're introducing interventions that will drive the most value.
Reach out to us to learn how we've researched and redesigned the offboarding process with our clients.