Seamless Departures: HR’s Offboarding Checklist

For Human Resources (HR) managers and consultants, certain aspects of the job may feel more difficult and thankless than others. Employee offboarding can fall into this category, but it doesn’t have to be a painful process. Offboarding shouldn’t be an afterthought or seen as a necessary but fruitless task — it’s as important as onboarding.

It may seem counterintuitive to focus on offboarding as a vital component to a thriving work environment. However, in order to experience organizational growth and continued success, a seamless transition for exiting employees is crucial. The offboarding process is just as valuable for passionate employees as the recruiting and hiring processes.

How can you ensure that your HR managers create and implement effective offboarding procedures? If your team is constantly developing and enforcing HR policies and procedures, the offboarding process should go smoothly. A detailed, carefully followed offboarding checklist can help.

What is HR offboarding?

Just as HR onboarding refers to the hiring process of an employee, offboarding is the process for departing employees. Although offboarding pertains to employees who have resigned or retired, terminated or laid-off team members will also need to go through this process.

Rather than allowing an employee to depart without any documentation, offboarding provides structure to the resignation, retirement, or termination process. Offboarding also allows you to ensure the steps toward professional separation are within legal mandates.

A person carrying a box with documents and a checklist for HR managers

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Why is offboarding necessary?

Offboarding is necessary to communicate terms of departure with employees, protect company assets, and receive constructive feedback about the employee’s experience with the company. Legally, you need to cover all bases to prevent unlawful termination legal claims, among other issues.

  • It’s vital that HR managers ensure that all that needs to be communicated is clearly conveyed before an employee’s final workday ends. This includes:
  • Ensuring separation agreements and non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are signed and explained.
  • Any offered severance packages are discussed and agreed upon.
  • The reasons for the employee’s voluntary or involuntary departure are effectively communicated.
  • Benefits are extended or discontinued within legally mandated time windows.
  • Allowing an employee to leave with closure. Regardless of the circumstances, termination can feel unpleasant for all parties involved. Allowing for an exit interview can help an employee to feel they held value during their tenure with your company.

Key elements for effective offboarding methods

The great thing about offboarding is, business owners and executives can delegate the entire process to an effective HR manager or HR consultant. Although a company executive may want to observe the process, the HR manager can create the offboarding checklist, run the exit interview, and ensure the checklist is followed.

The key elements of effective offboarding methods include:

Clear communication

Clear communication with the departing employee is vital, as is communication about their departure with the rest of your team. You don’t have to share sensitive, confidential information about the employee with other team members.

However, especially if the resigned or terminated employee is a senior team member and you fail to acknowledge their departure, this may negatively impact team morale and create a toxic work atmosphere. It’s also important to share their departure with clients who worked closely with the departed employee.

Documentation

If you’re terminating an employee, or a team member abruptly resigns, you need records of their offboarding. This helps protect you legally and creates a smoother exit process.

Transfer of company assets

If an employee possesses company property (including cars, company credit cards, computers, smartphones, and sensitive data), the HR manager should have policies included in their offboarding to ensure they return this property before their exit.

A woman working on her laptop while taking notes on her HR manager checklist

Image from Canva

Create an HR offboarding checklist

The best way for HR managers to ensure a smooth and successful offboarding process is to create and adhere to a detailed checklist. An excellent employee who experiences a chaotic or hostile offboarding process could damage your company’s reputation and ability to acquire new talent.

On the other hand, a terrible employee who feels valued during the offboarding process may go away quietly and speak favorably about their experiences with your business. That’s why it’s vital to treat all offboardings as equally as possible.

Some examples of excellent additions to an offboarding checklist include:

  • Copy of a formal resignation or termination letter to begin the process, and to add to HR’s personnel files.
  • Formal, written “thank you” to the employee for their work and service to the company.
  • Transfer of company assets from the employee back to the company (including company keycards and ID badges). Ensure there is documentation for this process, as well.

    Scheduled offboarding/exit interview with the HR manager. If this is a termination, begin the meeting with the aforementioned steps.

  • Review all severance packages and NDA agreements thoroughly with the employee. Require signatures and documentation certifying that they understand these agreements.
  • Remove the employee from all company communication channels, including email and Slack. Ensure that the employee is deleted from all active work databases.
  • Settle all expense accounts related to the employee.
  • Conduct an exit interview that will provide mutual feedback. It’s a good idea to use a specific questionnaire that begins with, “How do you feel about your time in this position/ with this company?”
  • Disclose final paycheck arrangements. If the employee has been terminated, ensure you’re paying them within the legal time window allowed. (The law may vary based on what region or nation your offices are located.)
  • If the departing employee was an asset to your team, leave future lines of communication open — offer them an employment reference, or contact them with a short email or phone call after their departure.

How Europe HR Solutions can help

Offboarding is an integral part of a successful company. However, a seamless offboarding process requires HR professionals. An offboarding checklist for your HR managers can help. If you don’t have an HR team inhouse, outsourcing your HR needs to qualified professionals can prove to be a positive step.

If your U.S. or U.K.-based company has just expanded to Europe, hiring the right HR team or taking on this responsibility on top of your enormous workload can feel overwhelming.

At Europe HR Solutions, we understand the nuances of HR, and we care deeply about the success of the companies we assist. We can create your offboarding checklist to comply with European employment laws, and take care of the entire offboarding process for you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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      About the author

      The author of this article

      Inez Vermeulen is the Founder and CEO of Europe HR Solutions, with over 25 years of successful corporate and entrepreneurial experience in various global industries. She has helped grow and expand the European divisions of global companies such as Coca-Cola Company, Regus, DHL, American Medical Systems, etc. Inez has received several company awards for her entrepreneurial spirit and success.

      She owns a Bachelor’s degree in French, History and Latin, several HR global expert certifications, a Master’s degree in Metaphysical Sciences, ICF Coach Certification and has completed her Doctorate on Transformational Leadership. Inez is fluent in Dutch, English, French, Italian and German. She works in partnership with an extensive international network of independent & professional companies and resides in Belgium near Brussels with her husband Jan.