What is Offboarding?

The employee offboarding process is an often overlooked part of the employee life cycle. It’s important to remember that in order for a company to achieve success, it must have a strong foundation. The most important piece of this foundation?

An offboarding checklist ensures that all necessary actions are taken as soon as an employee leaves your organization – saving time and avoiding errors. In this blog post, we will go over a checklist of the offboarding process. You will learn what offboarding is, why it’s important, and the benefits of proper offboarding for your organization.

What is Offboarding?

Offboarding is the process of transitioning employees out of an organization. It involves all the processes needed for a formal separation between the employer and the employee. The separation in general is due to retirement, resignation, or termination. An organized Offboarding process should take place whether the employee leaves voluntarily or involuntarily.

The company should aim at doing offboarding in an effective way so you don’t find yourself reaching out to a former employer or employee after they have left, or worse – getting sued! You should aim to have your off-board done in a proper way.

Offboarding vs. Onboarding

Offboarding is the reverse of Onboarding. An employee will undergo an Offboarding process when they leave their current company, while they are undergoing an onboarding process when joining a new company. On-boarders are already aware of all the necessary steps and procedures for their future work with that company before beginning any off-the-job training or orientation.

Employee onboarding checklistThis includes job interviews, screening (background checks), employment contracts, sign-on bonuses/sign-up incentives (i.e. what you get offered as soon as you join), and other customary offers such as health benefits & 401k programs.

Why is Offboarding Important?

Offboarding is important because it helps support the employee’s transition to a new phase of their life. It is difficult when an employer suddenly terminates someone from their position. Thus, the offboarding process reassures employees that they are not unimportant or forgotten.

In addition, implementing this process before terminating them allows for time for different options; if there’s an opportunity for the exiting employee to stay, they’ll have time to explore that option. Or if there’s a severance package in place, make sure to discuss and finalize it beforehand. Offboarding is also important because it helps maintain an employee’s dignity by giving them a sense of control over closure.

What are the Benefits of an Effective Employee Offboarding Process?

There are many benefits to having a proper employee offboarding process. For instance:

  • Better employee morale
  • Reduces the risk of lawsuits from terminated employees
  • Improves company legitimacy and trustworthiness in the eyes of current and future prospective employees, customers, vendors, and investors
  • Reduces turnover rate by letting all parties know that you care for them
  • Improves employee knowledge and workflow by releasing them from the company with all necessary information and a sense of closure

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How do you Offboard Someone? – The Offboarding Process

HR needs to complete an employee offboarding checklist to ensure that everything is done just right. This is when an employee exits the organization because of resignation, redundancy, or other reason. Just missing one item can result in severe consequences, thus make sure you follow all procedures to ensure an effective offboarding process.

Employee offboarding checklistHR must complete the checklist to make sure everything is right for the employee to leave an organization. Let’s take a look at our how to offboard an employee:

1. Inform Co-Workers

Before the employee offboarding process begins, it is important to inform coworkers of what is happening. They may have questions or want a chance to say goodbye before the employee leaves an organization. The HR and other fundamental departments should communicate in a thorough and well-organized manner to ensure smooth offboarding.

The last thing that you need on your checklist is more headaches when communicating with others about something so critical as someone’s departure from an organization…so make sure things are organized. To that end, you can:

  • Send an email or verbally notify coworkers
  • Notify external contacts (such as customers the employee worked with, and vendors they worked with)

2. Fill in Required Legal Documents

When employees leave, there’s often lots of paperwork to complete. There are non-disclosure and non-compete agreements, and there are tax documents that you must complete in time. The checklist includes financial, 401(k), health care information, and a letter of resignation. Here are some instructions to fill out the legal documents:

  • Payroll and Other Paperwork. Make sure to fill out the employee’s paperwork. The paperwork includes the company 401(k), insurance, and benefits information in order to process any withdrawals or rollover plans that required addressing
  • Update Payroll System. It’s important to update a company’s payroll system with the employee termination date. This will ensure that there are no mistakes when you pay the employees and could help reduce confusion among HR, supervisors, and managers
  • Discuss Former Employee’s Last Paycheck. This should include a payout for unused vacation days or an employee severance package. This also includes what the company will do with the employee’s accrued vacation days
  • Have Employee Sign Letter of Termination. Before the employee leaves, either in person or remote via email, it’s important to have them sign the letter of termination. This is important because it confirms that they have received the letter for legal purposes
  • Sign Non-Disclosure Forms. It’s important to have the employee sign off on their non-compete or non-disclosure forms before they leave. The purpose of this is to verify their agreement to the terms

3. Recover Company Assets

Many companies fail to recover assets that belong to them like laptops, mobile phones, and even equipment when employees leave. Research has shown that employee theft within the US costs businesses up to $50 million per year.

The simple trick to appointing someone in charge of asset recovery is to make sure that you recover the company property in advance. It is helpful to draw up a list of these company assets so that you are sure that you return those assets to the company.

You may ask the departing employee to do it, but you could also have another responsible employee. You might want to make sure the following items are returned to the company:

  • Laptops and computer bags
  • Cell phones
  • Departing employees’ IDs and access badges
  • Parking passes
  • Company vehicles

4. Get in Touch With IT Team

The IT team needs to disable IT access relating to the leaver to make sure nobody else can access their PC or other information after they leave. It is also quite common to add an “out of office” message or automatic redirection to the email account for a short period before closing it down to ensure that important emails from clients aren’t missed.

The IT team needs to undertake a process to remove IT access to the user’s PC and other information from their account such as:

  • Network and computer login access
  • Email, phone conference, and instant messaging accounts
  • Third-party software passwords (access to critical company systems, company website Intranet, Salesforce, Marketo, Website CMS, and Analytics)
  • Access to sensitive company documents

5. Arrange the Exit Interview

A crucial step of the offboarding process is the exit interview.  This is a final opportunity to talk with your employee and get their feedback about what worked, what didn’t work, and how you can improve in any way what they were not satisfied with.

Stay interview vs. exit interviewExit interviews are also an opportunity for employees to give advice on things such as company culture or processes which will help make the next employee’s experience better. These interviews are not just a chance for employees to be heard, but a final opportunity for managers and leaders to say thank you and express gratitude for their contributions in any way they see fit.  The exit interview might encompass the following:

  • Obtain Feedback. Feedback is a very important part of the offboarding process. If you’re a manager, don’t become surprised to hear why an employee is leaving, and take steps to address any concerns or issues they may have had in the employee lifecycle
  • Ask Where the Company can Improve. There is always room for improvement, so asking about areas of the company that required improvement that is beneficial for both parties. To that end, managers can also ask about how the employee’s work experience with their coworkers and team members was while they were employed
  • Discuss if the Employees have Complete support and Resources. This is an important step in the offboarding process, so it is best to find out if an employee was happy with their work environment and had enough support. Sometimes, you might be surprised by the fact that the employee didn’t feel supported or lacked the necessary resources
  • Determine the Employee’s Relation with the Manager. This is the most important part of the process. Managers should ask the questions like; How did the employee feel about their manager? What were the employee’s feelings on how they communicated with their manager? Were there any conflicts between them that occurred during employment and if so, what was it about? Was the employee happy with how they were able to communicate with their manager? Determine if the work was fulfilling enough for employee satisfaction or not?

Some employees might not feel fulfilled by their job. This is a good time to determine what aspects of their position they did or didn’t like and find out why it made them unhappy, especially if this involves their manager.

  • Ask What You Can Do to Make them Stay. This is important because there are chances that employees are leaving for the wrong reasons. It’s possible that they just don’t want to work in this field, but also due to a poorly managed position. During the interview, you can ask the questions like; What would have made them stay? What did they like about their job? What were they looking forward to?

Many times companies may not even know what steps they need to take in order to keep their employee happy. It’s a good idea to find out and then make changes if needed. The employee can be satisfied with some aspects of the position, but not others. If this is the case, it’s necessary to figure out what these aspects were so that you can do something to keep them satisfied. If the employee was excited about something that would happen in their position, perhaps this can be planned for and delivered so that it will help keep them around longer.

  • Try to Keep the Door Open for Valued Employees. It’s always a good idea to have former employees come back to the company in some capacity, whether they are just volunteering on a one-time basis or if you have a position that needs filling.

It is important for an employee who has been with a company for any amount of time to not feel like their job was disposable. They need to take the steps necessary in order to make sure they are offboarding in the right way.

6. Leaving the Position Ready for the New Employee to Take over

This is a big one. Although it may sound like common sense, the person in charge of offboarding should make sure that they are leaving their position ready for a new employee to take on without any bumps or hiccups. This includes things such as updating passwords and information about workflows so that everything is smooth sailing for incoming employees.

Full lifecycle recruitment roadmap

You might want to make sure the following points are addressed:

  • Prioritized documentation of routine tasks, with step-by-step instructions if needed
  • Status updates on current and planned projects
  • Have existing employees train coworkers on how to do those tasks
  • Handoff access to files or systems
  • Obtain a list of contacts in and outside of the organization

7. Show Appreciation to the Employee

Offloading an employee is not always a negative or stressful experience. It’s important that off-boarders feel appreciated for their contributions and hard work during their time with the company.

Why employee appreciation is importantYou can assure a good employee experience by thanking them, taking them out for lunch, rewarding them in some way (perhaps through a gift card), etc., or you can appreciate them in person, over the phone, or via email.

8. Recommend Outplacement Services

This is the last step of the offboarding process. The company can recommend outplacement services to help their employee find a new jobs after they are let go.

Offloading is an important part of making sure that employees don’t feel as if they were left in the dark you terminate them from their position, and it helps them transition into retirement with dignity.

Many companies find this process so successful that they now offload employees who are retiring or transitioning into different positions.

Offboarding is not just about getting for employee’s departure from the company, it’s also about ensuring that they feel valued and appreciated for what they’ve contributed during their tenure with the organization. It’s important to make sure that the employee has a clean break with the company and that they feel good about their time spent there.

What Challenges You Might Face in the Offboarding Process?

The most common challenge is that offboarding can take time to complete, which is difficult for smaller businesses or companies experiencing rapid growth if they don’t have enough resources on staff at one time.

Major reasons of employee resignation

  • A lack of communication and/or training for employees may also lead to a reluctance on the part of an employee to leave
  • Employees who are not taken care of in their offboarding process often experience feelings such as anger, resentment, or regret that can have an adverse impact on productivity
  • Poor communication with former colleagues is also common as the employee may not feel that they are welcomed back to work
  • Employees who experience a reduction in salary or benefits often feel resentful and become less productive, which is detrimental for small businesses with limited resources

Offboarding Best Practices: Conclusion

Best practices for offboarding involve making sure paperwork and administrative details get covered. But these are also about using the offboarding process to improve your company’s culture. Offboarding is a great way to get your company on the ground and make sure it’s on the right track.

So, in summary, and as mentioned above, the offboarding process should look something like this:

  • The first thing you will need to do is make sure your employee understands the paperwork and administrative details that are involved in offboarding.
  • Make a point of thanking them for their time with your company. Offer incentives if they agree to complete tasks or train others on projects before leaving, such as access to internal information or resources (like discounts.
  • You need to give your employees access to their email one last time so they can save anything important that needs saving, or clear out emails they don’t want anymore before shutting down the account.
  • Make sure you have a plan for final payments and any benefits due (i.e., accrued vacation pay). Think of this as the last check they will receive from you.
  • Make sure to terminate employee access to any company systems, including computers and email accounts. This is more for corporate security than anything else. You’ll want a process so that if a team cannot terminate an account (ie: your IT department needs approval), then it’s done as soon as possible.
  • Don’t forget to update the employee’s files with your HR department and any other areas of the company that needs to know about these changes, like payroll or accounting departments.
  • You’ll want a process for what happens if an employee passes away before you offboard them (such as their death certificate).
  • You’ll want to document all employee offboarding activities, so it’s not forgotten later.

We hope this can help you with your employee offboarding procedure and we wish you the best of luck in completing this important task.


Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding offboarding.

What’s the Purpose of an Employee Offboarding Checklist?

An employee’s offboarding checklist details all of the necessary to-do tasks when they leave the company. It is a check-box exercise so that line managers and HR team members can see at a glance which tasks are complete and which are still outstanding.


If you are new to Human Resources and are looking to break into an HR role, we recommend taking our HR Certification Courses, where you will learn how to build your skillset in human resources, build your human resources network, craft a great HR resume, and create a successful job search strategy.


Josh Fechter
Josh Fechter is the founder of HR.University. He's a certified HR professional and has managed global teams across 5 different continents including their benefits and payroll. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.