Employee Offboarding

Hi everyone,

I was recently asked about industry trends regarding offboarding employees and if there's any best practice on how to treat offboarding employees to encourage them to remain advocates of the organisation. 

Would anyone be willing to share what works for them in their organisation and how to best maintain great relationships with former employees?

Thank you in advance!

Fiona Harris

  • Johanna

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    30 Jul, 2019 14:48

    That's one for the HR glossary Fiona! #Offboarding
  • In reply to Johanna:

    Johanna said:
    That's one for the HR glossary Fiona! #Offboarding

    Hopefully one that doesn't catch on  

  • Johanna

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    30 Jul, 2019 15:26

    In reply to Keith:

    funny though isn't it as on-boarding is used quite a lot!

  • At first, I hated the terms "on-boarding" and "off-boarding" (yes, I heard them both at the same time), but I came to appreciate them the more varied the workforces I encountered. It's helpful to have a collective term for all the ways people join or leave your organization's shadow when you deal with employees, workers, consultants, contractors, temps, volunteers, secondments, embedded workers and the various permutations of the modern economy of work.

    Now, to the question.

    Well, the first piece of advice may come across as stating the obvious, but it's surprising how often I've had to repeat it to senior leaders:

    1. If you want good relations with your ex-employees, have good relations with your current ones. Because they are the ones who will eventually be ex-employees.

    2. When someone decides to leave, don't take it personally. Even when it's personal. Treat every leaver with courtesy, respect and fairness. Even if they are leaving under a cloud or after a falling out, they will appreciate professional dealing and remember it long after the bitterness has faded.

    3. When someone leaves "in good standing", ask them to join your alumni (or whatever) contact group. This should follow the normal rules for GDPR, but it's good to stay in touch with such people, a couple of times a year. A personal email asking after their success, and letting them know if any interesting vacancies might be opening up in your business for them to return, won't go amiss. Birthday and Christmas cards will be appreciated.

    4. Keep good records. Remember: even the people who look after the almuni contact group may be ex-employees eventually, so you'll need to make sure you retain the names, details and stories of all those employees in a database.

    5. Let the bad stuff be forgotten. If someone left under a cloud or had a falling out four, five, six or more years ago, there should come a point at which you're prepared to let bygones be bygones and to assume that, just maybe, they have moved on and so should you. And at that point, you may like to reach out again and see where they're at.

    Hope that helps.
  • In reply to Keith:

    Don't worry Keith - it will catch on. After all, there's plenty of folk want to show they are are the cutting edge of HR and not some old fogey or crumbly like me. :-)
  • In reply to David Perry:

    TS Eliot knew all about metaphor and allusion but very sure would spin rapidly in grave at these:

    ........And on the deck of the drumming liner
    Watching the furrow that widens behind you,
    You shall not think 'the past is finished'
    Or 'the future is before us'.
    At nightfall, in the rigging and the aerial,
    Is a voice descanting (though not to the ear,
    The murmuring shell of time, and not in any language)
    'Fare forward, you who think that you are voyaging;
    You are not those who saw the harbour
    Receding, or those who will disembark.
    Here between the hither and the farther shore
    While time is withdrawn, consider the future
    And the past with an equal mind.
    At the moment which is not of action or inaction
    You can receive this: "on whatever sphere of being
    The mind of a man may be intent
    At the time of death"—that is the one action
    (And the time of death is every moment)
    Which shall fructify in the lives of others:
    And do not think of the fruit of action.
    Fare forward.
    O voyagers, O seamen,
    You who came to port, and you whose bodies
    Will suffer the trial and judgement of the sea,
    Or whatever event, this is your real destination.'
    So Krishna, as when he admonished Arjuna
    On the field of battle.
    Not fare well,
    But fare forward, voyagers.

    (Four Quartets / Dry Salvages)
  • In reply to Robey:

    Thank you Robey, that's really insightful!
  • In reply to Robey:

    very well explained Robey, i thoroughly enjoyed your writing.

    A Food For Thought

  • In reply to Keith:


    Get ready for "up-boarding" to replace promotion or development; maybe "downboarding" for disciplinary demotion, not forgetting "cross or transboarding" for lateral movements....

  • In reply to Ray:

  • In reply to Ray:

    Will you allow Babyboarding? :)
  • In reply to Robey:

    This is a really important point made by Robey: "When someone decides to leave, don't take it personally. Even when it's personal. Treat every leaver with courtesy, respect and fairness."

    Many managers turn really great leavers into bad ones just by the way they respond to a resignation.

    Take time to invite the leaver to an informal and confidential exit interview and let them know how much their contributions and opinions are valued by the firm. You can learn a lot from these meetings because you will never hear a more honest opinion of the business than from a departing employee with nothing left to lose!

    Sincerely wish them well and let them know the door remains open to them in the future.
  • In reply to Isabel:

    Like it Isabel
    What about "under-boarding" instead of "employee funeral"?
  • In reply to Ray:

    Waterboarding for seaside sabbaticals? Ironing Boarding for career breaks?