By Amy Friedman CEO and Founder, Partners International
What is offboarding and what’s wrong with it?
Offboarding is the process that many of our HR leaders, peers, as well as we ourselves, may have experienced at some point in our career journey. It’s the process of losing the sense of stability, income and community all within one. It not only affects the person who is being laid off but has a substantial effect on the human resources (HR) leaders delivering the news, as well as morale of the employees that remain at the company.
In this tough day and age, many HR leaders wonder how it can be improved upon in this challenging day of COVID. With bumper-to-bumper schedules, this process can become transactional, taking the person out of the equation, and becoming a more robotic move. Because it can be an incredibly traumatic experience for a person, it’s critical to develop a person-centered approach around offboarding to not only ease the transition of the exiting employees, but to also maintain morale of the current workforce, develop a culture of compassion, and overall increase engagement.
What is the person-centered approach to offboarding?
The person-centered approach to offboarding focuses on the people, rather than the conveyer belt approach. It keeps top of mind the emotion and reality of the situation, while ensuring employees are walking away feeling hopeful about their next steps.
Jennifer Dunn, SVP of People & Culture at AMC Networks, has been creating and culminating a positive, passionate, and humanity filled culture at AMC Networks since the beginning of her 20-year career journey. When starting at the company, Jennifer’s main objective was to create a culture that not only respected but enhanced the full-life cycle of an employee including onboarding, talent development, and offboarding exiting employees. In doing so, she forged a lasting partnership with Partners International. Both AMC Networks and Partners International recognize the value in treating the offboarding process as an opportunity to create genuine human interaction, offering high-touch, customized programs to employees at every level.
Tips for Successful Offboarding
In developing AMC Networks’ career transition strategy, Jennifer identified three core tenants that she believes are vital to a person-centered career transition approach: communication, transparency, and transition resources.
Make your communication with the exiting employee as personal and engaging as possible. For instance, never say to someone, “Please don’t take it personally.” For them, it is inherently personal; they are losing their livelihood, along with friends and colleagues. Instead, remind them that employment separation is nothing to be ashamed of; in this day and age, it’s commonplace.
Follow up with them and nurture the relationship. This is especially important in the age of websites, like Glassdoor, where exiting employees can leave reviews of the company, both negative and positive. In order to make it known that the organization does truly care about the wellness of the exiting employee, it’s essential to choose an outplacement firm that will take the time to address the challenges and difficulties that lie ahead.
Jennifer knew that Partners International was a great fit, not only because of their high-touch approach to the individual programs, but the team at Partners is continually in contact with Jennifer, providing updates on where each exited employee is within their job search.
Be as transparent as you can during the separation process; treat the employee with respect. This is particularly important if you want the employee to be transparent with you during the exit interview. Transparency is also a crucial component when considering the remaining employees. It’s important that they are aware of the company’s decisions, as well as the offerings that the company could make available following the restructure of an organization, such as coaching office hours and team development programs.
- Career Transition Resources
It’s critical to provide comprehensive information related to what exiting employees are walking away with and explain that this is an opportunity to reflect on what each person truly wants out of a career.
It is crucial that the HR managers provide the exiting employees with an explanation of what outplacement is and the opportunities that it holds. Consider explaining that this is an opportunity to reflect on what each person truly wants out of a career. Follow-up with your employees to make sure they are taking advantage of this offering and encourage employees to leverage these programs. Though many employees may want to take time off following their offboarding, it can be imperative to begin the career transition programs at the start of their journey in order to build upon their network for broader opportunities.
Why Best Practices during Offboarding are Essential
There’s more to people-centered offboarding than warm, fuzzy feelings. What does your company want its culture to represent? How does the company want its employees to feel about their lifecycle with the organization? If the goal is to present an image of a company that cares about its employees, it’s vital to treat each one like an individual, not a number, both when they join the organization and when they leave it. A people-centered offboarding approach will create a positive organizational culture and company reputation, as well as help improve retention, which is crucial in the current war for talent.
About Partners International
Partners International is a global, full-service talent consulting firm specializing in a broad range of Career Transition Services, Executive Coaching, and Talent Consulting. We work with clients on the most pressing, real-time, real-world challenges facing them. Partners International is a woman-founded, woman-owned, certified diversity provider talent consulting firm that creates cutting-edge solutions that respect the business context and organizational culture of our clients. To learn more about the art of alignment, visit www.partners-international.com.