What Is Employee Offboarding? (With Definition and Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 28 September 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When an employee resigns from or otherwise leaves their role in a company, employers often engage in the process of offboarding. This process can help ensure that the employee and employer finalise any pending items regarding their professional obligations and connections, retain the company's security protocols and help the employee exit the company respectfully. Learning more about offboarding can help you add value to your role in an organisation, whether you're leaving the company or facilitating another employee's offboarding. In this article, we discuss employee offboarding and provide a definition and examples of what this process entails.

What is employee offboarding?

Employee offboarding is the process that a company and an employee undertake to systematically sever their connections. This process might take place after the employer terminates the employee or if the employee resigns or retires from their position. Typically, the employer initiates this process to ensure that the employee returns all company assets before exiting the company.

The general purpose of offboarding is to ensure a smooth transition of responsibilities while enforcing the company's security policies. As the professional exits their position, it's important to ensure that they no longer have access to the company's confidential documents. This process also provides the company's leaders with a valuable opportunity to learn more about the exiting employee's experience working there. Given that this employee has their own unique viewpoint, they could offer an invaluable perspective.

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Examples of employee offboarding

To help you learn more about this process, review the following examples of offboarding protocol and the reasons they're beneficial to employers and employees alike:

Transferring essential knowledge

Over the course of performing their role, it might be essential for an employee to receive important information. Depending on the work that the employee performed, they may or may not have documents containing that information. It could involve a complex or subjective process that the employee understands better than other employees. To ensure this information remains with the company, part of the employee's offboarding process could involve equipping another employee with this essential knowledge.

The employee could schedule a meeting with their replacement to discuss or demonstrate the nuances of the responsibility. If possible, it can be helpful for the replacement employee to watch the exiting employee perform the task they're trying to learn. This can provide the new employee with opportunities to ask questions and practise the activity while expert guidance and supervision are still available to them.

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Removing access to secure company data

Employers often provide their employees with access to various classified documents essential for performing their work. Consequently, when the employee leaves the company, management wants to ensure that only active employees can access that information. Part of the offboarding process involves revoking the exiting employee's permissions to protect the information's classified status.

Given that the employee may have accessed the information in a variety of ways, the employer might thoroughly review the employee's history with classified information. The employee may have physical copies of the information to return. They might also have digital permissions on a document-sharing application that the employer can revoke. By diligently going through this process, the employer ensures the safety of any secure information, and the exiting employee exhibits their continued compliance with company policies.

Retrieving hardware

Employers may provide employees with pieces of equipment necessary for successfully completing their jobs. This could include laptops, printers or other technological materials. When the employee exits their position, the employer can check that they retrieve these materials for the employee responsible for completing the work in the future. Since these materials may be expensive, employers tend to maintain a comprehensive list of the materials they've provided for their employees. The employee can demonstrate their honesty and goodwill towards the company by returning these materials, and the employer can retain their valuable assets.

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Holding exit interviews

When an employee is leaving their current position, their supervisor often conducts an exit interview with them. Typically during this interview, the supervisor asks questions to learn more about the employee's experiences while working with the company, including the offboarding process. Since the employee is leaving the company soon, the employer can expect to get an honest review of the employee's working experience.

This feedback can provide the employer with comprehensive insights concerning its employees' perspectives on the company's workflow. Current employees might avoid speaking critically about their supervisors or teammates. Since their responses can remain anonymous or won't result in any retribution from supervisors or the company, exiting employees may feel more inclined to provide or comfortable with offering an honest review.

Read more: What Is an Exit Interview for an Internship? (With Examples)

Severing the employee's connection to payroll

Employers may use certain tracking software to help pay their employees according to the amount of time employees spend working. Employers may also pay their employees based on a salary, so the employee receives the same amount of money every pay cycle. When an employee is exiting their position, this part of the process helps the employer ensure that the employee stops receiving payment after they no longer work for the company.

Part of the offboarding process could entail removing the exiting employee's information from the company's payroll software after they've received their final paycheques. To simplify this process, employers could request that employees schedule their final day at the end of a pay cycle. This way, the employee receives a full paycheque, and the employer can immediately remove that employee from the payroll system afterward.

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Ensuring a smooth workflow removal

An essential aspect of the offboarding process is removing the exiting employee from the company's workflow. The employee likely performed various tasks that other employees' work was dependent on. Since that employee is exiting the position, the employer can decide who is responsible for performing that task in the future. That employee might take over the task for the exiting employee temporarily or permanently, depending on the employer's desire.

The exiting employee could communicate this change with their teammates as part of the offboarding process. If another teammate relied on the exiting employee preparing certain documentation to complete a task, the exiting employee may personally inform them of their departure. This ensures the smooth and uninterrupted continuance of the organisation's internal operations.

Updating the company directory and website

Companies often keep an updated list of employees on their websites and in their internal directories to improve communication among teammates. When a teammate is preparing to leave, a secretary could remove their information from any databases to maintain a current listing. This can help team members identify other employees and alleviate confusion. The employer could also benefit from an accurate employee count.

Related: How to Explain Employment Gaps Due to COVID-19

Reclaiming an employee's ID badge and key card

Along with confidential information, employees often receive access to various buildings or storage facilities while working for an employer. Many companies supply team members with ID badges or key cards that allow them to open certain doors or use certain computers. To maintain the security of these locations, most employers retrieve these items from the exiting employees and remove their information from the lists of authorised personnel.

This process allows an employer to secure physical locations so that only current employees can access them. With this assurance, the employer can trust that their assets are safe and only accessible to trusted individuals. Since ID badges denote that a person is an employee of the company, employers can ensure that only active members of the company can claim this status by securing them from exiting employees.

Additional benefits of offboarding

The following are the broader outcomes of a positive offboarding experience:

Improves employee experience

Other employees are usually aware of the quality of the company's offboarding process. Because of this, facilitating a positive offboarding experience for exiting employees can improve morale and assure employees that they can also expect positive and productive treatment if they exit the company. This can encourage positive feelings towards the company, which can influence the productivity of current employees.

Creating positive impressions for current and exiting employees can affect people's opinions outside of the company. Candidates may search for company reviews to learn more about prior employees' experiences with a company. If employees have positive experiences during the offboarding process, they may be more likely to write benevolent thoughts about the company on a review website. This can help a company's prospects of finding new talent and generally improve its public image.

Ensures security compliance in the industry

Although many companies prioritise security to protect their clients and their assets, several industries have external security standards and regulations. Governmental or other regulatory sources could set these guidelines to protect customers. As such, companies that wish to remain compliant with these standards use the offboarding process to systematically review and remove an employee's accesses as necessary. Prioritising the safety of the company's customers can ensure the company remains compliant with these standards.

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