Taking Advantage of Offboarding Automation

For talent management stakeholders conceptualizing onboarding is fun—welcoming a new member to a team, followed by the integration process, often signifies growth and new life for an organization. Consequently, most companies engage a great deal with the human capital management (HCM) functionality designed to support onboarding. By contrast, offboarding is oftentimes a cheerless process, as the loss of a trained and knowledgeable employee generally has a negative connotation, whether it means simply the loss of a skilled worker who will need to be replaced or the ill health of the company as a whole. Therefore, the offboarding process is habitually undertaken with low energy levels, leading as a natural result to the underutilization of the offboarding functionality available in most HCM systems.

Smart companies will invest in an HCM system with comprehensive onboarding and offboarding capabilities, and devote ample resources and time to ensure the offboarding process is smooth, while negative impacts are reduced and positive impacts maximized.

Exit surveys
This is a very common and perhaps critical-to-use functionality. People leave workplaces for various reasons—all of which matter to them, to their colleagues, and to the organizations that they worked for. Exit surveys are therefore a great tool to assess departure circumstances. Survey questions should be able to extract the multi-layered conditions that led to the termination of a work contract. If, for instance, an employee has been fired or let go, responses to an exit survey designed to trace the disconnect between the organization and the individual (i.e. cut position, underperformance, misconduct, etc.) may indicate if the individual is eligible for rehire when certain work conditions are favorable to accommodate him or her. If an employee resigned, an exit survey can help identify the level of competency that a company can afford when looking for a replacement. It is sometimes the case that an organizations will no longer be able to afford an employee that has become highly competent and ‘very expensive’; thus, when employees retire, exit surveys should be oriented at collecting the employee’s willingness to collaborate on a contractual basis with the company in the future. Finally, exist surveys could also be aimed at the managers in charge of the departing employee to gain insight into the relationship between management and subordinates in specific departments.

Accounts access revocation
Workflows are required for this part of offboarding, which most enterprises manage at a very basic level. IT is usually notified by human resources (HR) whenever an employee is leaving the company and access to enterprise systems such as customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), etc. is promptly revoked. However, the action of blocking access to whatever accounts an employee might have used while working in a company should be accompanied by other complex workflows. Offboarding workflows should also include notifications for individuals or departments that are in charge of training and development, workforce planning, and employee satisfaction assessment. The responsibilities of the departing employee must be reassigned and as a consequence there may be a need to train the new owner of these tasks.

People naturally form relationships in a work situation, both with colleagues at the workplace and with external customers, partners, suppliers, etc. The connections that the departing employee had with external parties should be smoothly passed on to other employees. Furthermore, as the departure of an employee may negatively impact his or her peers, especially if the employee had been highly regarded, an employee satisfaction survey should be automatically triggered.

Inventory of assigned company property
While some positions may never require any special equipment to be provided by the employer, others rely intensively on the use of company-owned tools, gear, and other equipment. A sales representative, for instance, often will receive one or more mobile devices to perform his or her tasks. Or, a site engineer may utilize a company’s vehicle to travel from site to site. For large corporations, tracking company-owned equipment and making sure that people return all company property upon departure is done much more easily with inventory tracking functionality, available as part of most HCM solutions’ offboarding features.

Archival of offboarding information
The information collected during the offboarding process is usually securely archived and securely forgotten. Thus analytics and reporting are an essential addition to the offboarding process. An interesting way of utilizing archived offboarding information is by creating what-if scenarios. For instance, if a high profile employee left the company it may be interesting to see what could have determined her to stay. Or, what-if scenarios may unveil if certain process would have been done better/faster had the employee still been a part of the company. An overall analysis of offboarding data may indicate trends in future employee turnover—i.e. what positions/departments are vulnerable and why.

No offboarding pain, no company gain
The cases where we look forward to offboarding are rare. Interestingly enough, even when someone that we dislike leaves it is still somewhat troubling. Initially, upon hearing the news, we may feel relieved, but soon after we usually experience a sense of a void in their absence. Similarly, when we leave a place that we dislike sorrow ensues, even if only the regret of having wasted our time. These feelings of discomfort associated with the leaving process are usually strong enough reasons for both the organization and the employee to be negligent and not commit to offboarding tasks. But talent management professionals should not overlook offboarding technology (usually already available in the existing HCM solution) which can facilitate some heavy-hearted and uncomfortable tasks and make use of the benefits that do exist with the offboarding process, such as the potential for learning more or gaining clarity about a position and the tasks associated with it. Moreover, the offboarding process should be carefully planned such that employees do not view their final days with the company as an unpleasant experience and share these feelings—for example, on social media or dedicated websites such as glassdoor.ca or ratemyemployer.ca—and so that the company itself comes through the changeover experience in the best way possible.
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