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Employee offboarding essentials: managing employee exits

Does your organisation have an employee offboarding programme in place?

While staff arrivals and departures are an inevitable part of the natural ebb and flow of running a business, the exit of an employee is often a costly one too. According to one estimate, the cost of replacing an individual employee can range from one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary. 

But while losing an employee can be accompanied by a feeling of, well, loss, properly managing the offboarding process is crucial. Outgoing employees are valuable sources of organisational knowledge. They can be powerful advocates for your organisation. And, of course, it’s important to make sure that their exit isn’t disruptive to the productivity and well-being of remaining employees. 

So what’s your employee exit strategy? Here’s a checklist of the essential tasks required to make employee exits seamless, fruitful, and a positive experience for all involved.

Step 1: Create a checklist

Employee announced they’re leaving? Get organised early by creating a checklist of everything that needs to be done from the moment of resignation, onwards. Include:

  • Assign someone to lead the offboarding process
  • Communicate the changes to remaining staff
  • Organise paperwork (references, final pay and any outstanding reimbursements, internal records, update website and directories)
  • Manage workflow and task handover, WIPs and outstanding tasks
  • Manage security (permissions, passwords, site access, etc)
  • Organise a p[rofessional Exit Interview


From the moment the person hands in their resignation, be gracious. Last impressions are sometimes more important than first.

Keeping the lines of communication open and friendly – with both the outgoing employee and those remaining – is crucial, so the sooner everyone is on the same page the better. Be sure to inform the employee’s direct supervisor and HR department about the departure. 

Notify key team members and stakeholders who need to be aware of the changes, and, if necessary, discuss a communication plan to ensure transparency and clarity within the organisation.

Employee offboarding and knowledge transfer

Maintaining organisational knowledge when an employee leaves is crucial for seamless operations and continuity

How will you handle the knowledge handover? Discuss any pending projects or outstanding tasks to determine the best course of action for their completion or reassignment and encourage departing employees to document WIPs, processes, and other important information in a structured and accessible manner.

Facilitate knowledge-sharing sessions with the employee’s team or designated individuals to transfer critical information, insights or best practices, and tie up any loose ends such as system and building access. Now’s also the time to collect any outstanding company assets or hardware, and to ensure that any sensitive information, files, or confidential documents stored on personal devices are returned.

Take these security issues seriously – around one in every four former employees can still access emails and accounts from their former workplaces.

Organise the Exit Interview

An exit interview is a pivotal experience for an outgoing employee and can have a significant effect on their final opinion of your organisation.

So it’s important to show you care. You can do this by scheduling an exit interview to gather insights into the employee’s experience, reasons for leaving, and suggestions for improvement. These interviews gather vital feedback from departing employees, enabling the improvement of work environments, reduction of employee turnover, and early identification of potential issues, preventing them from escalating into major concerns.

HR expert Krysia Grant oversees Report It Now’s third-party exit interview service, and says that by outsourcing the exit interview process to an impartial third party, organisations can create a safe space for employees to share their feedback without fear of judgement – often revealing potential or actual problems in an organisation – in a way that in-house programmes can’t. 

“An independent interviewer doesn’t have the same history with the person being interviewed, so they are in the unique position to explore issues impartially, to question things in a way that might be difficult for an internal person, and to provide that space for people to speak honestly.”

“A professionally-led interview really helps to bypass that baggage so that genuine insight can be surfaced.”

Effective employee offboarding

Finally, thank the employee for their efforts – be gracious, highlight any wins, and make sure they feel appreciated for their contribution. This is your opportunity to ‘turn departing employees into loyal alumni’, and you never know when you’ll meet again. 

By following your checklist, you’ll be more likely to ensure a seamless transition for departing employees while minimise disruption to day-to-day operations. Prioritising effective offboarding demonstrates a commitment to employee well-being, fostering a positive employer brand and facilitating successful future collaborations.

Report It Now’s Exit Interview service collects, analyses and interprets your outgoing employee’s feedback and works with you to make an action plan that will help you stay ahead of the employee engagement and retention curve. Contact Report It Now to find out more.

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