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 one’s 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 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, 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 AMC Networks, her main objective was to create a culture that not only respected but enhanced the full-life cycle of an employee, from onboarding, talent development, as well as offboarding exiting employees. In doing so, she forged a lasting partnership with Partners International, a woman founded and owned, certified WBENC career and talent consulting firm.
The partnership between AMC Networks and Partners International has thrived over the past several years due to the alignment of Partners International’s mission and values with the culture that Jennifer created at AMC Networks. Both companies see 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.
A key element that Partners International offers that emphasizes this person-centered approach is the one-on-one orientation that Partners International conducts, whether they are working with one employee, or hundreds. They take the time to introduce each exiting employee to the program, as well as discuss the individual needs of the person and what they are looking to do in their next chapter. From there, the individual is aligned with a perfectly matched career coach along with a team of experts, that works with the exiting employee hand in hand as they journey through the next chapter.
Tips for Successful Offboarding:
Drawing on Jennifer’s insights, below are three key strategies she feels are vital to a person-centered career transition approach: communication, transparency, and transition resources.
Make your communication with the termed 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 termination 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 offer following the restructure of an organization, such as coaching office hours and team development programs.
Career Transition Resources
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. 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 when being eliminated from their role, it’s imperative to keep the momentum going by beginning the career transition programs at the start of their journey 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.