There was a recent incident at Cal Water, a San Francisco Bay Area water utility, where an auditor attempted to steal $9 million from the company. He had an easy time getting into the building a few hours after he resigned because his physical access wasn’t revoked. Incidents caused by insiders (be they current or recently resigned/terminated employees) are not altogether rare, this one made news because it was so extravagant. This is why many companies are now focusing not only on on-boarding but an effective off-boarding practice as well.

Off-boarding can be said to be the formal process of managing the end of an employee’s lifecycle and completing the employee’s exit formalities. Many companies go to a great extent in creating on-boarding programs – and it is important to do so since it’s said that an employee’s initial experience is highly influential in how long he/she will stay in the company. However, the way you deal with an employee exiting a firm can also play a big role in a company’s retention policy.  Off-boarding is important for the following reasons

  1. An employee leaving an organization is in effect a brand ambassador for the firm. An unpleasant exit can result in negative publicity for the company and hence it is important that policies and practices are created to part on mutually amicable terms.
  2. It is widely accepted that employee referrals are one of the best sources of recruitment. An employee – current or previous, can turn out to be an excellent referral source for the company. Laying out an effective off-boarding process greatly increases the probability that the employee will be a good referral channel
  3. An employee who is leaving the firm is a wealth of information on a company’s drawbacks and corrective areas. As he/she is leaving, they will have lesser qualms in sharing these than the existing staff. Tapping in on the honest employee feedback can help HR and management to focus on improvement areas in the company.
  4. Lastly an employee who has left on good terms is more likely to return to the company for work. A rehire has many advantages including familiarity with company culture and expectations.

A good off-boarding program may take weeks to complete and in the end should have all loose ends tied up. This can include administrative activities like ensuring that all company property are returned such as name tags, ID/access cards and payroll processing is stopped, to strategic ones like an exit interview to get a more in-depth understanding on the reasons why an employee is leaving.

Investing in a good off-boarding program has long term and short term benefits for the company, it also ensures a good HR practice is being followed.