Offboarding: Structured and Appreciative Exit Management

The process of employees leaving a company requires a structured offboarding process. This is essential for a healthy corporate culture.


Offboarding - a Definition

Exit managemen plays a significant role in the corporate culture. This is mainly about the occasion of employees leaving the company, for which a structured offboarding process should include finalizing the handover of hardware, dealing with business-critical data and knowledge, and communicating the exit confidently within the remaining workforce.

Internally, offboarding should be recognized and established as a crucial task within HR that significantly shapes the company's culture and reputation, especially in times of labor shortages. From a networking perspective, it should be designed positively and proactively.

Reasons for an offboarding are termination, retirement, or the expiration of a fixed-term contract. Offboarding is the counterpart to onboarding. It encompasses the entire farewell process on both technical and socio-emotional levels across multiple phases.

Why is Offboarding Important?

When an employee leaves, the company loses not only part of their workforce but also the knowledge and skills. This process as a whole is usually part of the management's responsibility. Employees who are leaving can affect employer branding and, consequently, the recruiting process.

Whether an employee is retiring, resigning, or ending the employment relationship for other reasons, an appreciative farewell is always valuable. It demonstrates the importance of the workforce to the management and motivates the remaining employees. Simultaneously, it strengthens employee retention. A well-handled offboarding process signals transparency and security, which increases trust in the company's leadership.

Also, a significant portion of the company's image relies on employee reviews. Therefore, a positive last impression in the form of exit management is also important for attracting and re-attracting talent.

What Makes a Good Offboarding?

Good exit management is characterized by transparency and openness. This builds trust and proactively addresses conflicts. In HR, there should be a well-defined workflow for offboarding that all colleagues follow professionally. Ideally, it should be a face-to-face process. In the case of remote offboarding, all potential open questions should be thoroughly addressed.

Offboarding Checklist

A checklist can help not only regarding good timing, but also to ensure a seamless process:

  • The exit interview should include information about the process and mutual feedback.
  • Work references, and, if applicable, recommendations.
  • The handover should be organized according to requirements, which may include ongoing processes, possible training for successors, and the completion of projects.
  • The technical process of logging out from all relevant communication tools, deactivating access, returning keys, keycards, identification cards, hardware like laptops or company mobile phones, company cars, etc.
  • A formal farewell should be planned in an appropriate setting.

10 Golden Rules for a Positive Offboarding Experience

To avoid conflicts and create a successful exit management, follow these rules:

  1. Design exit management in advance, i.e. by using an offboarding checklist.
  2. Maintain professionalism throughout the process.
  3. Organize the exit so that ongoing work processes are not disrupted.
  4. Address succession planning in a timely manner and organize onboarding to ensure knowledge transfer, prevent shortages, and avoid overburdening the remaining team.
  5. Handle separations amicably to create good memories, improve the company's image, have a positive impact on the workforce, and potentially allow a comeback.
  6. Use feedback during the offboarding conversation to improve and avoid errors in the future and optimize the company culture.
  7. Use offboarding to strengthen employee retention by acknowledging and appreciating the contributions of departing employees.
  8. In cases of retirement or new job applications after layoffs, company-specific programs can provide positive support and counteract negative attitudes.
  9. Transparency about the reasons and the individual steps in the offboarding process creates security.
  10. The last impression is the most lasting, so ensure that it is a positive one.

Avoiding Offboarding Process Mistakes

To ensure a smooth offboarding process and maintain your company's reputation, avoid certain mistakes. Departing employees will leave with a positive final impression if you do not make these common mistakes.

  • Delaying the process until last minute
  • Neglecting clear communication about the reason for the separation
  • Neglecting data privacy, giving former employees access to internal information
  • Failing to complete documentation properly
  • Not issuing the work reference in a timely manner
  • Not utilizing feedback to improve employee satisfaction


We would like to point out that our website provides non-binding information, which under no circumstances constitutes legal advice. This also, and especially, applies to topics within the sphere of legal HR advise. The content of this contribution cannot and is not intended to replace individual and binding legal advice. For this reason, all information provided is without guarantee of correctness and completeness, but always researched with the utmost care.

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