• Drew Dotson

Offboarding Karma: Turn Exiting Employees into Your Biggest Cheerleaders

Updated: Apr 28

Most employers tend to give their B-E-S-T when it comes to onboarding, but offboarding is rarely approached with the same enthusiasm. If you want to turn your exiting employees into brand cheerleaders, you must invest the same time, energy, and technology into departures as you do new hires. An offboarding process gone wrong can be detrimental to your organization, impacting the company’s reputation among current employees, prospective talent, and even customers.

A Gallup poll indicated that only 45 percent of exiting employees were satisfied with their organization’s exit process. Even more, the same poll suggested that employees “who have a positive exit experience are 2.9 times more likely to recommend their organization to others than those who have negative or neutral experiences.”

When it comes time to say goodbye, it’s important that employees feel heard and appreciated – something that won’t merely be accomplished through a seamless administrative departure process. Instead, it involves effort and empathy, which is the right approach to take anyway. While reflecting on their time at – and departure from – your company, former employees will be most interested in how the company made them feel, especially at the end.


Though it’s not rocket science, communication is key to happy departures. An exit program should be more than a checklist of administrative steps. It’s time employers go beyond the bare minimum of collecting signatures, dodging legal concerns, and addressing security issues, instead developing an exit program that focuses on the employee experience.

Transitioning employees have a lot of questions, and many of them are the same from person to person. By developing a centralized location that houses the answers to these frequently asked questions, you can eliminate frustration on behalf of employees as well as your HR team. Exiting employees will talk to one another, too, so it’s important that your messaging is consistent and easy to follow. Technology can facilitate the communication process to ensure that employees don’t fall victim to mixed messages.


A negative exit experience can quickly snowball into something more if a former employee angrily posts on Glassdoor, hindering recruiting efforts and potentially damaging your brand. Emotions run high during significant life changes, so you want to channel that energy into a favorable outcome for your company. How can you do it?

Exit interviews are a great opportunity to allow departing employees to speak their mind. This isn’t a time to harp on why the employee is leaving, but rather it’s an opportunity to gather information that can benefit future employees. Since employees may want to voice concerns about their specific managers or teammates, it’s wise to have a more neutral party like HR conduct the interview. Regardless of who’s doing the interviewing, employees should be encouraged to speak honestly and candidly, even when it comes to criticism. Remember this isn’t a forum to argue, but instead a time to empathize and understand ways in which the company can improve its employee experience.

Surveys are also easy to execute and can gauge employee opinions about the offboarding process. By seeking feedback about the transition process, you can give employees an opportunity to share their feelings about the experience. Not only will this make employees feel heard, but it also enables the organization to make process enhancements for future offboardings.


Does your organization attempt to stay connected to former employees? The first step in doing this is to confirm the best contact information moving forward. By leveraging LinkedIn, alumni networks, and other technologies, you can aim to maintain a friendly relationship with exiting employees. You might even make useful suggestions of courses and/or seminars to further hone departing employees’ talent, positioning them for future success.


Simply stated, people want to feel appreciated. It’s important to acknowledge an employee’s strengths and contributions, emphasizing the highlights of their time at your organization. If it’s possible, give departing employees a proper goodbye, whether it’s a lunch or a quick coffee break that allows other employees to bid them adieu. It can be nice to sign a farewell card, give a small gift, and share memories – all with the goal of creating a positive emotional experience during a sometimes difficult and overwhelming goodbye.


If handled thoughtfully and strategically, workforce reductions can benefit your company in the long run – financially and in terms of reputation. When employees exit your doors feeling proud and understood, they’re well on their way to becoming brand cheerleaders. They’ve got spirit; yes they do!

About Onwards HR Onwards HR helps organizations manage human capital risk. We empower businesses to conduct consistent and compliant separations using our analytics-driven management platform. Our five-step process leverages integrated workflows, decision support tools, and advanced analytics to improve efficiency, increase effectiveness, and minimize risk. The result is a streamlined separation process that creates a positive experience for employers and employees alike as they move onwards.