In the previous chapter of the Lano Employment Academy, we talked about how organizations can successfully manage their remote onboarding process. In this chapter, we want to take a closer look at the process that concludes an employee’s time at an organization, the offboarding process.
Similar to the onboarding process, offboarding works differently in remote teams. But how exactly is remote offboarding different from normal offboarding? Why is proper offboarding important? And how can businesses make sure not to forget anything when offboarding remote employees?
Employee offboarding is the process of managing an employee exit, regardless of whether the employee leaves on his or her own free will or whether he or she is terminated. It includes tasks such as:
Closing all of the employee's tasks and projects
Ensuring all of the employee's responsibilities are transferred to another employee
Conducting an exit interview
Recovering any company assets and access codes
Making sure they leave on good terms
Remote offboarding is basically the same process, with the sole difference that the different steps need to be managed remotely. This means that all the communication is done via emailing, messaging or videoconferencing, while any equipment provided to the employee needs to be returned by the latter via mail.
Offboarding is difficult for both parties, which is why it’s important to have a solid plan in place to ensure that the transition is seamless and respectful.
We often talk about onboarding new employees and how companies can create a seamless onboarding experience, but ensuring a smooth exit if an employee decides to leave the company is equally important. After all, it’s the last step in an employee's tenure with the organization, so it's critical to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Proper remote offboarding is important because it:
Solidifies the organization’s employer branding
Protects the company from legal action
Prevents the employee from sharing confidential information with competitors
Gives employees a positive final impression of the company
Keeps doors open for good employees to return
Ensures that employees leave on good terms
There are numerous benefits to properly offboarding remote employees. For one thing, it helps improve the company's employer brand by maintaining a positive reputation among candidates. But it also ensures that all legal obligations are met and that no documents or information are left behind.
What’s more, a constructive and thoughtful employee offboarding process can reduce costs because it ensures that relevant information and knowledge doesn’t leave the company along with the employee but is instead kept within the business, ready and available for the employee’s successor. This will help reduce onboarding time and increase productivity and efficiency.
Naturally, there are many different approaches to offboarding remote employees. But there are some best practices that apply in all cases. Here are some tips on how to offboard an employee remotely:
Create a checklist containing all the important topics that should be addressed during the virtual exit interview
Compile a list of all the tools and databases the employee has access to and make sure access is revoked in a timely manner
Evaluate the potential risk of the employee leaking important information to competitors and make them sign an NDA before leaving the company if needed
Establish an offboarding schedule and share it with the employee
Send a farewell package to the employee and arrange for free shipping for any equipment they might need to return
Ask them to complete an exit survey
Schedule a virtual get-together with the rest of the team so that everyone can say their goodbyes
To make sure best practices are adopted and used every time a remote employee is offboarded, organizations should compile a detailed remote offboarding checklist.
A remote offboarding checklist is a document that can be used by HR, managers and employees to make sure all necessary tasks are completed. It should be reviewed and updated regularly and be accessible to everyone involved in the process.
Here are some things to keep in mind when creating a remote employee offboarding checklist:
Changes in personnel should be officially communicated to the rest of the team. There is nothing worse than rumors making the rounds about if and why an employee is leaving, so businesses should make sure to get ahead of the story to prevent rumors from spreading.
This includes letting employees know that one of their colleagues is leaving and making sure they understand the implications this might have on their work. Ensuring that employees have a direct line of communication if they have any questions or concerns about the upcoming changes can also help put everyone at ease.
Administration is a big part of managing a global team, and this includes a proper offboarding process for remote employees. Depending on company policies and procedures, it may be necessary to prepare a few forms for departing employees. These can include:
NDAs (non-disclosure agreements)
Receipts for returning company property, like laptops and cell phones
Certificates of employment
If the HR department is still looking for a replacement when the employee leaves, it is essential to create a plan for how the responsibilities will be shared among remaining team members in the meantime. Tasks can either be attributed to other members of staff or temporarily outsourced to an independent contractor or freelancer.
Whoever takes on the additional responsibilities should fully comprehend what is expected, what tasks it entails, and when these tasks need to be completed.
Knowledge transfer is an incredibly important part of remote offboarding. If the knowledge and experience gained by the leaving employee is not passed on correctly to the rest of the team, valuable company information might be lost—not to mention the setback in employee efficiency if the new hire has to start from scratch and runs into problems that could have been solved by a proper handover.
To ensure proper knowledge transfer, the departing employee can either compose a handover document with any information and knowledge required for the position, or hold a virtual training session—ideally including the replacement hire.
Another essential part of offboarding remote employees is to conduct an exit interview. This not only allows the business to provide the leaving candidate with feedback about their time spent at the company, but also gives the employee a chance to share constructive criticism as well as their reasons for leaving.
These insights are extremely valuable to create a better employee experience for the rest of the team, and getting ahead of any other team members potentially leaving for the same reasons. This is best done in the form of a questionnaire that the employee can complete.
One of the last steps in the remote employee offboarding process is to collect company assets, such as laptops and other hardware. Access to internal documents and company software and tools that was provided to the employee should also be revoked.
Finally, it’s time to say goodbye. Organizing a leaving party is usually not an option in remote teams, but a virtual hangout everyone is free to join is a nice touch to end things on a good note. Employees usually receive a departing gift on these occasions to commemorate the time spent and worked together. For remote employees, this gift can be sent to their home address via mail.
The Lano Academy is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Lano Software GmbH disclaims any liability for any actions you take or refrain from taking based on the content contained in this article.
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