Business leaders put in a lot of effort to onboard employees and for good reasons. They create a positive first impression for them. It is rightly said that the first impression is the last impression and is one that lasts perpetually.
Research shows that when onboarding is successful, there is a greater chance of an employee feeling more engaged, confident and purposeful. Moreover, it ensures employees’ soft-landing into an unknown environment and helps them sail through the difficult initial few months
Interestingly, at the other end of the spectrum is offboarding. Leaders need to devote similar, if not more energy, towards creating experiences for employees who plan to exit an organisation. Departing employees need more support and appreciation from their employers, but are they getting that?
Is offboarding still new for India Inc.?
One notable after effect of offboarding is rehiring. It is seen that companies that bring back employees gain immensely from their familiarity with the culture, policies and practices. Moreover, it saves them a lot of money.
Nonetheless, even if you don’t hire a former employee, there are other benefits to giving a great offboarding experience. The departing employee will be eternally loyal to the former organisation.
We must not forget that the employee always carries a part of his former organisation with him. The same will be reflected in his personality and attributes. Depending on the tenure, the former employer’s influence is palpable in the departing employee.
Now, if the employer offloads an employee abruptly, giving negative experiences, that will become the foundation of the new relationship between the two from there. “Gone are the days when the employer would not worry about the former employee. See, when the offboarding experiences are negative the employer branding gets impacted negatively. In today’s digital world and age, news travel fast with multiple platforms available,” says Sameer Mathur, director-HR, RBS.
“Gone are the days when the employer would not worry about the former employee. When the offboarding experiences are negative the employer branding gets impacted negatively. In today’s digital world and age, news travel fast with multiple platforms available”
Additionally, if employees are offloaded on resigning , the rest of staff witness that, and no one likes to be a part of a company that is not empathetic towards its departing employees.
In a scale of 1-10, I would give offboarding a 10 in importance. A good experience will lead to great memories and people then share the experiences they have had with the new employer and employees.
Most organisations do an exit interview as an offboarding practice, “In my view much more needs to be done. 50 per cent of organisations have reinvented their processes, some have outsourced it to other companies to build their exit experiences,” says Mathur.
An exit interview is not enough to hear all the stories than an employee can share.
offboarding starts from initiating conversations with the exiting employee. Often, it is difficult for an employee to open up in front of his leaders, but if handled sensitively, a great deal of information on other employees, managers, and workplace culture can be extracted.
“Also letting an employee use all the company’s resources till the end of his tenure is very important. In some companies they impose restrictions on movements, access to emails and more. Showing full trust on him and letting him create networks is very essential” opines Mathur.
Mathur was previously working for Citi Bank as senior VP-HR, South Asia. Their policy was to engage an external agency to interview a former employee after six months. “Why six months? Because an individual would need this much time to think, introspect and process thoughts. He would be in a better position to suggest how we can improve,” shares Mathur.
According to a senior HR leader who did not want to be named, “Couple of things have changed, one is that people do move jobs more frequently now than they did in the past. Secondly employer branding has become very essential. People are watching how an employee is treated when he joins and when he leaves.”
Showing appreciation and thanking an individual goes a long way in all of life’s interactions, but with regard to offboarding, this forms the foundation on which other experiences rest.