Talent Management

How to say goodbye to an employee – in other words, what is offboarding and outplacement

Parting with an employee is always a critical moment – for each party. Regardless if it is the employee’s or the employer’s decision, the organization is exposed to the risk of creating competency gaps, weakening of the corporate PR, employer branding, information chaos, decrease of efficiency in the team and even … further resignations. For the employee, however, it always results in a loss of stability, the prospect of deterioration in their life situation and, as usual, a very stressful situation. What to do to minimize all the negative effects of the departure of an employee? The answer is simple: the right offboarding and outplacement process.

What is offboarding and why is it so important?

Offboarding is simply a process that a company should carry out when its employee leaves. As part of this, the employee transfers the company’s property (e.g. company phone, laptop, car, etc.) to his supervisor, closes the commenced tasks and transfers his duties and major projects to another employee or employees. During this process, his email, employee platform accounts, the account on the company computer, etc. are all deactivated. It is extremely important to appoint people who can take over the duties of the leaving employee – whether permanently or temporarily – and to update the company’s database so that knowledge resources do not disappear with the employee.

Giving a small gift to the departing employee can also be a nice touch

The more orderly the process is, the fewer the problems we can expect. When the offboarding process is not conducted well, it always ends in chaos in the team. We all have heard about bizarre situations when the manager in a company that the employee left, is forced to call and ask him for help to organize work and clear some processes in the company.

In extreme cases, badly conducted offboarding ends in a company paralysis, data loss and the need for large investments to repair everything.

It is also worth remembering that by carrying out the offboarding process well, we increase the chances of hiring the same specialist again. If a valuable employee leaves the organization, make sure he has the opportunity to return to the company.

See what professional offboarding may look like.

What is outplacement and how is it different from offboarding?

Even a well-conducted offboarding may prove to be insufficient and weakening to the company’s employer branding. To be honest, this risk increases significantly when the employee’s departure is the decision of the company, not the employee himself.

According to the stress scale of Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe, job loss is one of the most stressful life experiences (located 3 positions higher than an illness of a family member or spouse, 9 positions higher than the death of a friend). An employee who faces such a life situation will, first of all, suffer, which will prevent him from associating positive emotions with the employer’s brand.

However, it does not have to be this way.

The leaving employee can be helped in preparation for the change in his life (e.g. by rearranging the home budget), finding himself on the labour market and helping to accept the change that he has to face. During this process, you can make an employee aware of the fact that layoffs are not always his or the company’s fault – but forced by an external situation. If this is the case, it is especially important as it frees the employee from the feeling of guilt, eliminates painful misunderstandings and reduces negative emotions towards the employer.

A good outplacement process is planned in such a way as to respond appropriately to the needs of the employee facing loss of job, and at the same time protect him against breakdown, which could end tragically for him. That is why outplacement must be very well thought out. It is good when it is based on the 5 stages of accepting change known from the Kübler-Ross model. Each employee will have different needs and will need to be looked after in a different way.

Let’s look at each of them in detail:

  1. DENIAL is the first reaction that one experiences after losing a job. The emotions that the employee feels do not allow him to face the situation yet. They can lead to avoiding the topic in conversation, feeling confused, shocked or even anxious (which will result in distraction in the workplace). The employee may also initially feel extreme emotions, such as joy and euphoria – but you should be very cautious about such reactions because they are often a defence mechanism. It does not mean that the employee is moving towards a positive transition through the entire process.
  2. After the denial stage, comes the feeling of ANGER. The employee will be frustrated, irritated and worried.

At both the first and the second stage, ensure that the employee is thoroughly informed about the reason for his dismissal (especially if it is caused by external reasons), that he understands what is happening with his position and that he can communicate his doubts, fears, and emotions. These can provide valuable feedback for the company, but above all, it will allow him to deal with the negative impact of the situation.

  1. BARGAINING is the third stage. The name may be misleading because it does not mean that the employee will want to negotiate the company’s decision. During this stage, the employee will be particularly persistent in finding sense in the existing situation. At this stage, he will have the greatest need to comment on it – usually from one point of view. However, it is not a bad symptom – it allows him to deal emotionally with the situation. The better the help offered at first and second stages, the easier it will be for him to move to the next phase.
  2. After DENIAL, ANGER and BARGAINING, there is often a moment of a SIGNIFICANT MOOD DECLINE, in which the employee may even feel depressed. He will feel helpless and overwhelmed by the situation. The employee may react with hostility and may tend to escape reality.
  3. ACCEPTANCE. At this stage, the employee accepts the reality as it is. He now sees the chance to plan his career steps most effectively.

Guidance and showing the employee opportunities that lie ahead of him are the most important factors in stages 3 and 5. Contrary to what we may think, support is needed not only during the 4th and 5th stage. If the employee accepts his situation but fails to see the opportunities ahead of him, he can even go back from point five to point four with all the negative consequences of such a move.

At stage 4, emotional support is the most important thing. This is a critical moment, because of the danger of a real breakdown, which can be dangerous to the employee and of course, will negatively affect the company’s employer branding. No man (or woman) is an island. A former employee who doesn’t get over his job loss will feel negative emotions towards his former employer and may “infect” other people (including employees remaining in the company).

It sometimes happens that the “Bargaining” stage follows the “Significant drop in mood” stage. In practice, this means that outplacement guidance points should be combined with emotional support whenever the employee needs it.

Do you want to see what a professional outplacement program looks like on a SaaS platform? Get in touch with us.

Employees who survived (and stayed in the organization)

In the event of mass layoffs, employees who are often forgotten are the one… whose posts have not been reduced. It turns out that when mass redundancies occur, it often has a negative impact on the psyche of employees who remained in their position. This phenomenon is professionally called “survival syndrome”. It is expressed by high levels of stress, uncertainty about the future (“maybe I’ll be laid off soon too?”) and a feeling of guilt (“why him, not me?”).

A properly implemented outplacement program also protects employees who remain in the organization. When dismissed people are taken care of, the company helps them find themselves in a new reality, even find a new job, and they understand the reasons for dismissals, the level of stress and irrational fear of employees who remain in their position is significantly reduced. However, even in such a situation, it is worth taking care of the communication with the remaining employees in order to dispel their doubts and provide appropriate emotional support (if needed).

Can offboarding and outplacement be carried out remotely?

Actually, yes they can. Although this idea may raise concerns, it is hard to imagine carrying it out in an office in the era of the increasingly popular remote work. As long as the company has the right platform to manage knowledge, talents and communication with employees, there is no need (or sometimes possibility) for it to take place in the office. The most important are processes, knowledge transfer, finding competence gaps in the organization (all these factors can be automated) and keeping in touch (it can be done via the Internet or the phone). What’s more, automating processes will allow you to devote more energy to particularly important issues (answering employee questions, dispelling their doubts – what is generally understood as communication).

Do you want to carry out a remote and effective offboarding and outplacement? Make an appointment with our expert.

In conclusion

Failing to carry out the offboarding may lead to chaos, while skipping outplacement may result in a significant weakening of employer branding and a crisis in the team – also among employees who remain in the company. This, in turn, generates costly problems which employers are usually not prepared for.

If these problems can be identified and resolved before they occur, then it has to be done for the sake of employees, the team and the whole organization. It will save us all from stressful situations, significantly reduce image losses and, above all, allow us to take care of the employee even though he or she is leaving our organization.

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