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The damage caused by inadequate offboarding

2023 promises to be a crucial year in terms of talent retention. A recent study by international recruitment specialist Robert Walters shows that 1 in 3 employers have already seen top talent leave in the past year.  

When employees leave, organizations understandably focus their attention on attracting new staff. However, it is important not to lose sight of the offboarding process as well. Poorly executed offboarding will not only have a negative impact on the relationship with the resigning employee, it could also severely damage the company’s employer brand – potentially causing a drop in applicants.  

Evi Melkenbeke, HR Manager at Robert Walters, shares her thoughts on why companies should take their offboarding procedure more seriously.   

Why is offboarding as important as onboarding? 

First and foremost, offboarding serves to correctly conclude all practical matters. At the end of the notice period, everything should be legally and financially straightened out, all materials returned and all online accounts closed.  

The offboarding process also entails a thorough transfer, either to the remaining colleagues or to the successor. This way, you can make sure that the knowledge and know-how does not disappear with the outgoing employee, and that productivity is maintained.  

Evi: “The exit interview is the final step of the offboarding process and should never be skipped. Listening to the reasons why an employee wishes to leave will provide valuable insights to improve processes in the future. Equally important: the employee feels heard and appreciated, which will accompany the departure with a positive feeling. A thoughtful offboarding can even leave the door open for reconnection and enable counteroffers.  

When an employer fails to deliver a good offboarding process, they threaten their entire relationship with the candidate, something that could have taken years to build. Valued relationships between employer and employee can be quickly destroyed by poor offboarding processes. However, the damage can extend even further and affect an employer’s branding or public image if the former employee decides to share their negative experience with their network.” 

What are common mistakes in the offboarding process? 

“One of the most common mistakes employers make is ignoring their employee once they have handed in their resignation letter. This creates an unpleasant atmosphere in the workplace and can potentially lead to loss of productivity and motivation during the notice period”, says Evi. 

“Another frequent mistake is not carrying out an exit interview at all. This not only prevents any counteroffers being made or accepted, but also limits the chance of an open discussion or feedback."  

By not questioning the reasons why an employee wishes to leave, the organization misses the opportunity to improve in areas they may not even have thought of changing.


What is the aim of offboarding?  

In an ideal world the employer would convince the employee to stay, and the company would work on and resolve the issues that were raised in proceedings. All of which would lead to important internal improvements and a revised company image.  

“Even if the employee still decides to leave, they will leave on a positive note. The remaining employees will feel reassured that they are working in a supportive environment with great offboarding processes – safe in the knowledge that if they find themselves in a similar situation, they could openly talk to their employer about any issues, prior to making any decision”, concludes Evi. 

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Evi Melkenbeke

HR & Payroll Manager | Belgium & Switzerland

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