Professional Development Opinion

Vocabulary Lesson: Offboarding

By Emily Douglas-McNab — April 24, 2013 1 min read
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My colleagues and I stumbled across a unique HR term today that I just had to share...


Offboarding describes the process of managing employee exits. While not the most pleasant thought, offboarding is an important consideration for any organization, because all employees will leave at some point. They may do so voluntarily (e.g., retirement), be let go, or be faced with situations like downsizing, layoffs, and reductions in force.
As its name suggests, offboarding is the opposite of onboarding (a.k.a induction, new employee socialization), which is the process of bringing new employees up to speed on an organization’s goals and strategy, rules, internal processes, expectations, culture, etc. Onboarding should serve to bring comfort, understanding, and a sense of belonging to new staff.

Royalty free image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net user Nujalee

Why is offboarding important?
An effective offboarding process may include surveys or in-person interviews. This process allows organizations to actively track who leaves; when they leave; how they leave; and in cases of voluntary exit, why they leave. These data can be extremely useful for helping organizations identify issues and continuously improve. For example, if all of your high-performing teachers are voluntarily leaving and you’re not asking why, there’s no way to know how to fix the problem.

What is HR’s role?
Some experts argue that HR’s role in offboarding is to build a process for collecting feedback from exiting individuals. Others feel that HR should focus on documenting why an individual is being terminated or why a position is being reduced. In order to stay out of trouble, districts should always contact their legal counsel and ensure that decisions are made within the limits of the law.

How does your district handle employee exits or employee offboarding?

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