The Impact of Off-Boarding

The recent Twitter layoffs drew attention to the practice known as off-boarding. Many employees were simply shocked. And they are not alone. Are there “shoulds” when it comes to how an employer lets people go?  

When an employee decides to resign from a job, they often have a clear expectation of what the off-boarding process will look like. They might envision giving two weeks’ notice, helpfully transitioning their projects, giving an exit interview, and even having a farewell lunch with their colleagues. But the off-boarding process can look starkly different depending on the company and the circumstances of the departure. 

Twitter: The Elephant in the Room 

Recently, the social media giant Twitter made headlines when it laid off over 1,000 employees as part of a restructuring effort. According to reports, the company provided employees with just 30 minutes to collect their belongings and exit the building. Many employees were left feeling blindsided and unprepared for the sudden departure. In this case, the off-boarding process was anything but smooth and professional. 

But not all companies handle off-boarding so poorly. Traditional off-boarding procedures often include terminating the employee’s access to company systems and facilities, collecting any company property that the employee may have, and conducting an exit interview to gather feedback and insights from the departing employee. This approach is designed to ensure a smooth transition and to provide valuable information that can be used to improve the employee experience and reduce turnover. 

Are Exit Interviews Worthwhile?  

Some companies have an alternative approach to the notion of an exit interview. It’s based on the belief that it’s usually too late to fix problems when an employee decides to resign. Instead, they’ve built in methods of providing continuous feedback to employees throughout their time at the company.  

This approach effectively makes exit interviews obsolete by addressing issues in real time rather than waiting until the employee is on their way out the door. For example, at Google, employees are encouraged to participate in regular “Stay Interviews” to discuss their experiences and provide feedback to their managers.  

Identifying issues before they become major problems is not only more efficient, doing so builds a culture of trust by showing employees that the company values their input. 

Despite the benefits of providing continuous feedback, there are still situations where conducting an exit interview is a strategic decision. For example, if an employee is leaving the company due to issues with their manager or the company culture, an exit interview can provide valuable insights that can be used to address these issues and improve the overall employee experience. Similarly, if an employee is being laid off or fired, a well-conducted exit interview can help provide closure and ensure that the employee is treated with respect and dignity. 

But what about situations where an exit interview is not appropriate or necessary? For example, if an employee is being terminated for cause, conducting an exit interview could be seen as a waste of time or even insulting. In these situations, it is still important for the employer to handle the off-boarding process with care and professionalism. This might include providing the employee with information about their rights and benefits, offering outplacement services, or simply showing empathy and understanding during the termination process. 

 The Bottom Line: Demonstrate Care 

Overall, the off-boarding process is an important part of the employee lifecycle and can have a significant impact on the company’s reputation and employee morale. What off-boarding looks like may vary by the situation; the question is how does it make people feel? Will departing employees carry forward goodwill for your company, or will they feel animosity? 

Continuous feedback on performance-regular conversations empowers people to change if they want to meet expectations. It helps them know where they stand and perhaps connects their performance to how the company is doing so, they aren’t blindsided when layoffs happen.  

Establishing feedback loops (beyond exit interviews) empowers companies to identify and address issues before they become major problems, creating better overall employee experiences and reducing turnover.  

Off-boarding requires judicious consideration and professionalism. Kudos to HR professionals who demonstrate a commitment to supporting employees, even during difficult times. 


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