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Offboarding and Exit Interviews Can Open Doors with Employees

Today’s post comes to us from Workforce Institute board member and HR Bartender, Sharlyn Lauby.

Sometimes when an employee gives us their resignation, we might be saying to ourselves, “Gah! How am I going to run the department!” or “Jeez, this couldn’t come at a worse time!” As a result, we focus on getting the work done and not on the relationship with the exiting employee.

Just because an employee has announced they’re leaving doesn’t mean they want to close a door with the company. For example, in the latest UKG report — “Resign, Resigned, or Re-Sign?” — 43% of survey respondents who left jobs during the pandemic for new ones said that they were better off at their old jobs. Organizations have an opportunity to keep the door open with employees. Here are a few steps to consider.

Wish an exiting employee well.
 First and foremost, when an employee leaves the organization — regardless of the reason — wish them well. Treating an exiting employee with respect says a lot about the organization. Former employees can refer candidates and customers. Even if the employee never comes back, you want them to always speak well of the company.

Have a well-defined offboarding process.
 Both the organization and the exiting employee will have needs. The company needs a status on projects and work. It also needs items like keys, badges, and equipment. The employee will have questions about final paychecks, benefits, etc. HR departments should have a detailed process, so everyone gets the information and items they need.

Ask the right questions during exit interviews
. Speaking of offboarding, one essential step in the offboarding process is the exit interview. There are many ways to conduct exit interviews and companies will need to decide what works best for them in terms of who conducts them and when. But one thing that the exit interview should ask is, “What caused you to start looking for a new opportunity?” This could be different from “Why are you leaving?” Organizations will want to address the reason that employees start looking in the first place.

Consider flexible work arrangements with former employees.
 There may be many reasons outside of the company’s control that don’t allow an employee to return full time. For example, the employee might be relocating or becoming a full-time caregiver. This doesn’t mean that the employee couldn’t work in a part-time capacity or as a freelancer. Keeping the door open might allow the employee to work on projects.

When employees announce they’re leaving, organizations can use the offboarding and exit interview process to keep the door open for future opportunities. Yes, we must focus on getting the work done too. But focusing our efforts on treating the employee with respect and wishing them well will not only help with the transition, but it might also help bring them back.

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