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Well-executed offboarding opens door for boomerang employees

Talent retention is the number one focus for HR in 2024. A recent study by international recruitment specialist Robert Walters shows that 44% of employers surveyed have already seen top talent leave in the past year.

When employees leave, organisations naturally turn their attention to recruiting new staff. However, it is important not to lose sight of the offboarding process as well. Inadequate offboarding can cause serious damage to the organisation's employer brand, potentially leading to a drop in the number of candidates.

Evi Melkenbeke, HR Manager at Robert Walters, says: "Reputational damage is not the only consequence, however. By not offering the employee in question a positive exit, you lower the chances of them coming back on board as a boomerang employee at a later stage. Offboarding is therefore, in fact, part of the retention policy."

Why is offboarding as important as onboarding? 

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

The offboarding process also involves a thorough handover, either to colleagues or to the successor. This way, you can ensure that knowledge and know-how do not disappear with the exiting employee, and that productivity is maintained within the team.

Evi: "The exit interview is the last step of the offboarding process and should never be skipped. Listening to the reasons why an employee wants to leave provides valuable insights to improve processes in the future. Equally important, the employee feels heard and valued, allowing the separation to take place in a positive atmosphere. Thoughtful offboarding can leave the door open for possible rehiring in the future."

What are common mistakes in the offboarding process?  

"One of the most common mistakes made by employers 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 withholding an exit interview. This not only prevents counter-proposals from being made or accepted, but also limits the chances of an open conversation or feedback.   

By not inquiring about the reasons why an employee wants to leave, the organisation misses the opportunity to make improvements in areas they may not have thought of changing yet."

What is the purpose of offboarding? 

In an ideal situation, you make a counter-offer that convinces the employee to stay and, as an organisation, you find a solution to the problems raised in the procedure. All this leads to significant internal improvements and an improved corporate image.   

"Even if the employee does decide to leave, he or she will do so with a positive attitude. Team members will feel they are working in a supportive environment, where they can talk openly with their employer about any problems. Moreover, thanks to good offboarding, you open the door for top talent to return as boomerang employees, which can give you a big competitive advantage over a longer term," concludes Evi.


More information

 If you're looking for new talent for your team, upload your vacancy or contact one of our offices. Download our digital Salary Survey tool to benchmark your team's salaries. 

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Evi Melkenbeke

HR & Payroll Manager | Belgium & Switzerland

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