Offboarding: an overlooked step in the employee lifecycle?

Perry Timms
min read
Offboarding: an overlooked step in the employee lifecycle?

When employees can review employers on Glassdoor like we review our meals on TripAdvisor, are we missing a trick by not offering as good an employee offboarding experience, as we do an onboarding one?

A cursory scroll through your LinkedIn feed right now paints a troubling picture. While the ramifications of lockdown bite down hard on our economy, the impact on careers is clear to see. As businesses tighten their belts, more employees are sharing the dreaded redundancy post and beginning the hunt for a new role in an uncertain world.

Letting go of the notion that we can retain staff forever, and instead investing in how to build a greater experience to support our people as they progress in their careers, can ultimately build a beneficial feedback loop.

So, it’s heartening to see positive, proactive acts amid the freefall. Forced to make cuts of their own, rather than quietly letting their employees shuffle out the door to face the job hunt alone, Monzo Bank has taken the unusual step of publicly showcasing the talent they’re having to let go, to help them find a new position.

Monzo Talent is a dedicated jobs-board-style database featuring details of ex-employees – their CVs, contact details and Monzo highlights – a showcase of what they’ve achieved during their time with the disruptor bank. This is an act that will surely make former employees remember their time at Monzo fondly.

It’s an interesting and unusual investment into talent that’s leaving the business, but one that shows the fundamental, and yet often overlooked, importance of employee offboarding – positively closing the loop of the employee lifecycle.

Opportunities for advocacy

How many times in your career have you handed in your notice to then spend your remaining months feeling sidelined and consequently disengaged, as you’re no longer perceived to be offering value? Even the most enjoyable time spent in a role can be soured by the leaving experience.  

Much effort – and cash – is spent on onboarding, it’s a costly process to welcome new employees with a thorough induction that helps them settle into the role, team and wider company culture. On the other end of the employee life cycle, however, even the longest-serving employees often don’t get to experience a comparative effort when they depart.

Why should businesses bother? In an age where we review our employers on Glassdoor like we review our meals on Trip Advisor, every stage of the employee experience is an opportunity to delight or disappoint. These experiences can ultimately shape whether an employee becomes a brand advocate, one of the most valuable and authentic marketing opportunities a business can reap the rewards of.

Letting go of the notion that we can retain staff forever, and instead investing in how to build a greater experience to support our people as they progress in their careers, can ultimately build a beneficial feedback loop that ripples through employees’ networks and beyond.

Building a better employee offboarding experience

Monzo’s step is a particularly shining example, but there are many ways to make sure employees feel the love as they leave. Creating an alumnus forum, like a private Facebook group, can offer a safe space for former employees to network, and share experiences, memories and advice.

Offering departing colleagues extended access to learning resources to help them thrive in their next role is a gesture that can create a strong sense of goodwill.

Beyond statutory redundancy, there are material gestures that can preserve a positive perspective. When I left a former employer a few years ago, they decided to pay my travel expenses for my new commute for the first six months. It was a touching move that left a lasting impression. Similarly, the John Lewis Partnership gave leaving gifts to redundant Partners with more than ten years’ service to the value of almost £600,000. It might be a small gesture to each individual, but the goodwill could sweeten the pill of an unwanted departure.

Even the traditional exit interview, if done in a true spirit of listening and learning, can be a valuable opportunity to uncover deep-rooted operational or cultural issues that need addressing and make sure departing employees feel truly heard and valued.

The unique lens Covid-19 has given us means we’re scrutinising how businesses treat their people more than ever throughout the entire employee lifecycle. It’s no longer just about how they open the door. It’s also how they close it.

About the author

Perry Timms is the Founder & Chief Energy Officer of PTHR, with 30+ yrs experience in people, learning, technology, organisation change & transformation. His personal mission is to see more people flourish through their work, and help shift organizations as a force for societal good (not just profit machines). PTHR's mission is defined as "Better Business for a Better World". In October 2017, his first book, Transformational HR - was published by Kogan Page and the Energized Workplace published in August 2020. He was an extremely proud new entrant to the list of HR Most Influential Thinkers for 2017 and again in 2018 + 2019 (in the top 10 both years).

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organizational culture
employee lifecycle
exit interviews
leadership strategies

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