6 Employee Offboarding Strategies That Make a Real Difference

When it comes to employee offboarding, there is a surprising amount of research that we can use to assess its usefulness. Here are some facts:

  • 40% of leavers would consider reapplying to a previous employer → Companies with good offboarding processes rehire more.
  • 75% of leavers would recommend their previous employer to their network → most organizations fail to utilize these free referrals.
  • 15% Of employees have already boomeranged to a previous employer in the past.
  • Companies with good offboarding processes have 16% better brand awareness.
  • 15% of new hires are already referrals by alumni or boomerang employees.
  • 76% Of employers embrace boomerang hires.
  • 9/10 employees are unhappy with the way they were offboarded.
  • Organizations with good offboarding have better brand awareness.
  • Organizations with good offboarding have recruitment advantages, as well as advantages in the areas of human & social capital.

Many employers are just now realizing the potential of employee offboarding.

The hype is fueled by recent publications by Alison Dachner (Assistant Professor, John Carroll University) & Erin Makarius (Associate Professor University of Akron) for the Harvard Business Review as well as an associated Podcast.

Employee offboarding is the dark horse of HR processes.

Additionally, more and more organizations are claiming to achieve stunning and measurable results by performing strategic offboarding.

One example of such a company is Harris Computer Systems from Ottawa, which doubled the number of boomerang employees. The company states that 1 out of 10 new hires is now a boomerang hire.

As recruiting costs are steadily increasing, strategic offboarding has emerged as one of the most effective ways to gain a competitive edge in the tight labor market.

Strategies that make a real difference

At Partwell, we help organizations use employee offboarding strategically. We’re on a mission to create offboarding processes that put people first while generating measurable results for the entire organization to celebrate.

In this article, we want to introduce 6 strategies that drive measurable results.

These strategies can easily be implemented and involve no magic. While you can use Partwell HR to automate and optimize these strategies — nothing is stopping you from implementing them yourself. Just start.

Strategy 1: Offer formal stay interviews

Almost no organization we talked to offers dedicated stay interviews to their good leavers. Some companies state that direct managers feel responsible for resolving issues that prompt employees to leave. This is not the best approach.

Stay interviews should not be left to direct managers (employees often try to escape their direct manager by leaving). Stay interviews should be offered by the HR team. They should be easy to accept and easy to decline.

Note: Be very intentional about how you communicate the Stay Interview. Stay Interviews (discussing the possibility of staying) should not be confused with Exit Interviews (find out why the employee is leaving). Offer the leaver a meeting that is solely focused on the possibility of staying.

Effect: Stay interviews alone can reduce turnover by 2-7%.

Strategy 2: Schedule a check-in 6 months after departure

Most HR professionals think that it’s a good idea to keep in touch with leavers but don’t know how — especially since workloads are already high. We love this next technique since it involves almost no manual work while producing good results for most organizations.

This technique involves sending out an automated email to every regrettable leaver asking them how their new employment played out.

If you’re lucky (and a good employer) you’ll find plenty of leavers regretting their decision to leave.

This is a typical example of “The grass is always greener on the other side”.

Reaching out proactively takes away the burden of initiating contact.

Allow your leavers to make mistakes and be open to rehiring them. They will return more loyal than ever.

Companies that are pioneering this approach are Google and Facebook in the U. S.

Other examples are SAP or Zalando who are offering good leavers to return within 12 months (no questions asked).

Effect: We’ve seen companies rehire up to 10% of their leavers by implementing this simple technique.

Strategy 3: Remove all ambiguity from the rehiring process

At Partwell, we’ve noticed that almost no leaver knows how to start the rehiring process.

If you have a record as a great performer, starting the rehiring process should be simple. We’ve discovered that it is most effective to let leavers start the rehiring process with one click (you click, we call). Alternatively, you should make sure leavers know at all times who to call or mail to if they ever want to return.

Note: Most leavers only know how to be rehired by their old team or department. Often, this is not what leavers want. Create a rehiring process that is decoupled from the old team & department of the leaver.

Strategy 4: Supercharge your online presence

Whether you want to admit it or not — your online employer brand is important. We know that 70% of applicants will search for online reviews from former employees before accepting a position at your company. If your rating is low, recruiting will become more difficult.

We also know that employees who have experienced your organization negatively are far more likely to leave a bad review than leavers who have nothing to complain about.

There is a simple & and effective hack to change this (your competitors may already gain a competitive edge by using it).

Here’s an example of how we improve online ratings by using strategic offboarding:

At Partwell, we score all our exit interviews to determine who had a positive experience at your organization.

We use this data to ask leavers who experienced your organization positively to leave a review (don't ask for a positive review) on a chosen review website (e. g. Glassdoor). To do this, we send an automated email to this subset of levers 3 weeks after departure. Usually, around 8–20% of leavers will end up leaving a review with ~90% being 5-star reviews.

Effect: We increased the online presence of our customers by 60-80% within 8 months with this simple technique.

Strategy 5: Celebrate birthdays and anniversaries after departure

Build cultures that stick! Ending the relationship just because someone decided to leave your organization is not what you should do.

It does not take much to show appreciation for your leavers. A lot of organizations invest a lot in alumni events and content — we don’t think this is necessary.

One technique that works almost equally well (in the context of rehiring) without significant investment is to simply schedule automated emails to celebrate occasions such as birthdays and work anniversaries (e. g. their last day).

Keeping leavers in the loop and staying on the radar is often enough — IF your outreach contains a non-generic call-to-action (don’t just link to your career page).

Effect: Rehire 3–5% more leavers with this simple technique.

Strategy 6: Invest into your offboarding process

As humans, we are hardwired to judge experiences largely by how they ended. This is called the Peak-End-Rule and was discovered by Daniel Kahneman et al. (Nobel Price for Economics). A great offboarding process will have a disproportionately positive effect on the way an employee thinks and talks about your organization and vice versa.

Using notice periods effectively not only retains knowledge & contacts within the walls of your organization but can have a measurable effect on your brand and recruiting efforts. The fact that 9/10 employees are unhappy with the way they are offboarded should be alarming.

Make sure to have a clear process in place that goes beyond formal procedures and leaves enough room for your leavers to feel cherished and valued.

Conclusion ☄️

When thinking about HR processes, we often get carried away by processes that seem obvious to us such as onboarding, applicant tracking, and employee engagement.

We tend to overlook processes that are equally important and can yield significant results for our organizations such as employee offboarding.

This article aimed to demonstrate how you can leverage employee offboarding to drive meaningful results in your organization.

As a software vendor, we made it our mission to give you transparent access to our data and findings to help you make an informed decision about implementing strategic offboarding.

If this article sparked your interest be sure to reach out to us.

Find out more on https://partwell.io

German full-stack developer and entrepreneur. https://twitter.com/FlorianMartens9