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How are you perceived by former employees and what do you need to consider when offboarding?

 

It’s often said that you only have seven minutes to make a first impression, and many often strive to get off to a good start. But what about the importance of the final impression? This is something that all employers have every reason to think about.

Many companies are being forced to make some of their employees redundant due to the negative economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. Often these are employees in whom the employer has invested and who have great potential, but perhaps they may not have been with the company long enough. There may also be very large cutbacks, where the majority of the workforce are forced to leave their jobs. 

The employee’s experience

Getting these employees to continue to think of their former employer in a good light is a strategically important goal, because an employee who leaves with a positive final impression is a wonderful ambassador for the company. A good ambassador speaks well of their former employer at future workplaces and among family and friends, and to a new employee who may perhaps take over the role in future. Furthermore, satisfied employees are easier to re-recruit when the winds change and the company is back on track. A well-designed offboarding process is a sound investment. 

A three-month period of notice isn’t uncommon at many companies. The employee still has a while to go in their workplace between the day they are made redundant and their last working day. Make sure that you have a strategy and set of goals for investing in this final period. So what is important to bear in mind during this time?

Exit interview

The exit interview is used by some, but far from all, companies. It is an interview where the employee sits down with their manager and/or an HR representative to share what has been good and what could be better. Topics can range from anything from colleagues and leadership to work duties and working conditions.

The interview gives the employee closure and is an opportunity for them to put forward their views while at the same time the employer can learn and get input for improvement work. As an employer, you are demonstrating that you value your employee’s ideas and thoughts. Remember that it’s not enough to arrange an exit interview for the offboarding to be perceived as good; the interview is only one aspect of what you need to consider.

Practical details

Even before it’s time for the nonetheless important exit interview, it’s a good idea to agree on the practical issues regarding, for example, the notice period and when the last working day will be. Afterwards it is also good to agree on how and when the news will be communicated to the rest of the organisation. Being transparent while also perhaps not wanting to cause alarm before having a plan for a successor can be a difficult balancing act for an employer. It’s important not to forget how the situation is perceived by the person leaving.

Handover

It’s good for an employer to have a process for handing over work duties, securing the knowledge transfer and helping set priorities. Run through and set out a shared plan at an early stage that takes into account both the perspective of the person leaving and the work situations and driving forces of the remaining colleagues. This can sometimes be tricky and it’s also important here to think about any potential customers that will be affected and who may be sad that the employee is leaving. 

The period up until the last working day

Make sure you agree on which meetings or training courses the employee will participate in and which are not relevant. This avoids dissatisfaction and uncertainty. The key here is good communication and clarity.

Send-off

The final send-off could nicely round off a positive leaving experience for the employee and for the employees remaining in the workplace. It’s a gesture from the employer to show its appreciation and that the employees in the workplace are important. Be sure to plan and communicate the send-off to those concerned in plenty of time, preferably in consultation with the employee who is leaving. Remember that some people prefer not to receive the attention and be in the limelight, and would like a more discreet send-off.

Lower costs and better control

In addition to helping to create a positive experience for employees, a smoothly functioning offboarding process can also reduce unnecessary costs. Swedish employers are said to lose millions of kronor a year by not following up on the return of work equipment when employees leave the workplace. This could also include licences, subscriptions, insurance policies and other benefits that continue and silently chalk up costs. A good offboarding process also provides better control from a security perspective, such as of authorisations for various systems and access to keys and codes.

Where to start?

Developing a smoothly functioning offboarding process that helps ensure the employee has a positive final period while making sure that the economic perspective is fully considered can be a challenge for employers that have not done this before. It is partly about the processes and tools, but it is also about softer aspects of the business such as policies, guidelines, leadership and organisational culture. 

At Azets we are accustomed to reviewing current procedures and processes together with our customers to develop new flows and documentation in line with the company’s targets. This is then helpful with the transition, whether it concerns offboarding processes or other aspects of payroll and HR. Feel free to contact us!