Planning redundancies? You need an offboarding programme.
Updated: Nov 3, 2021
In September, the Government’s furlough scheme will come to an end, and no one can be certain how many of the 11.6 million jobs that it has supported will remain secure. If you are one of the businesses that is considering making redundancies then we recommend you read two things: our guide to the redundancy considerations every business must take; and this article which will walk you through offboarding.
What is offboarding?
In HR, the terms onboarding (the process of introducing new starters into the workplace so that they become effective and committed employees as quickly as possible) and crossboarding (like onboarding but for existing employees who move to a new role in another department) are common and businesses are gradually recognising how important they are.
Offboarding is simply the opposite of onboarding – it’s a programme you put in place when someone is leaving your company to ensure that the process goes as well as possible. By “well”, we mean that the employee leaves with minimal disruption to colleagues, operations and business reputation. As a result, it is just as important as the other -boarding terms.
Every business should have an offboarding programme in place for use whenever an employee’s contract is terminated. It’s wise to have one in place for resignations, and long term leave, such as maternity / paternity leave.
The impact of redundancies
Redundancies are traumatic for everyone involved. For the employee losing their job, it's common to feel rejected and scared. Their colleagues might experience feelings of uncertainty around the security of their own jobs or deep upset if they're very close to those leaving; and internal stakeholders and clients or customers may have trouble adjusting as well.
With so many people impacted, it is extremely important that the employer conducts the process fairly and as transparently as possible to ensure that any bad feeling around the decision is minimised.
How to create an offboarding programme
Consider who is impacted
The first step is to identify who will be affected by the departures and how.
The leaver. If they are being asked to leave the company, you should ensure that they have:
Full clarity over why the decision has been made
A clear timetable of the process from start to finish
Support and time off (if needed) to find new employment
Colleagues of the leaver (and perhaps the rest of the workforce). They may be surprised by the news so it is important that you are in control of the message by communicating with them early and sensitively. You should:
Explain what has happened without breaking any confidentiality
Explain what this means for them (i.e. if any further redundancies are planned, how the affected department’s output will change if at all)
Acknowledge their support and share appreciation for them during this period
Conduct regular check ins to make sure that they are OK and to answer any concerns that they may have
Clients or customers. If the leaver is a senior member of the team or is customer facing, you should ensure that they are informed of the change and who their new contact will be
Once you’ve looked at these factors, it’s wise to look in greater detail at how the removal of the role will affect the business operations. In the case of redundancies, it will have been determined that the role is no longer needed but there will still be some responsibilities that will need to be handed over to another member of staff to take on. The line manager should build a plan for this that is discreet and respectful of the leaver and the rest of the team that ensures there is minimal disruption.
Surrender of assets
Your employees have access to an incredible number of business assets: computers, tablets, shared drives and folders, client contact details, vehicles, or equipment and your Intellectual Property. It should be in their employment contract that upon termination of employment, they must relinquish ownership of any company property and follow their obligations over confidential information and customer contacts. We always recommend that you should remind them of these obligations and check that all company items have been returned. Remote access to company systems should also be disabled.
They also can impact your reputation as a business if they have a high profile or they reference you as their employer on social media. In this case, it is recommended that you ask your PR or social media teams to monitor activity.
The exit interview
Another key element of offboarding is the exit interview. This is a formal meeting in which the leaver can give their feedback on the business, their line manager, the role and any other elements of the business they wish to discuss. This provides you with two benefits:
An indication of whether or not they harbour any bad feelings that you may need to investigate or be mindful of in the future
Valuable feedback on areas of the business that you may wish to change to improve conditions for your existing staff or customers.
Don’t burn bridges
It is common for people that have been made redundant at some point in their career to see it as one of the best things that could have happened to them because of the opportunities that consequently came their way. This view doesn’t come overnight, nor does it happen for everyone so it’s important that you do all you can to support the leaver and show them that they were an appreciated and important member of your team.
You never know when your paths might cross again.
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Disclaimer – The contents of this blog do not constitute legal advice and are provided for general information purposes only. We can only advise on the basis of specific client instructions and are unable to offer legal advice by email to anyone who are not our clients. To find out more about becoming a client of Lodge Court please talk to us.