We talk a lot about employee onboarding. There are checklists in place and procedures to guide the new hire. But, what about the employees who are leaving? After all, they have given their time and talent to the organization. Their offboarding should be as smooth as the onboarding of any new employee.

An employee exit checklist or proper employee exit management is not only beneficial for the employees but also for the organization. It has each detail documented and there is no confusion when the employee leaves. With offboarding checklists in place, the handover and knowledge transfer is more organized.

In this article, we will tell you all about the offboarding process and offboarding best practices. The next time you have an employee leaving the organization, you know exactly how to streamline their exit.

What is Offboarding?

Every workplace has an onboarding procedure in place. But do you know that they have an offboarding process as well?

What is it?

Offboarding is the process involved when someone is exiting the organization, regardless of the reason. The offboarding procedure and checklist should be consistent and continuous and in sync with the ethos of the organization. It is a dissociation process that covers all the separation instances; retirement, resignation, termination, etc.

A good offboarding process is a good part of employee exit management that makes the job of Human Resources a tad easier.

Why is Offboarding Important?

A survey by the TEK systems found out that only 14 per cent of IT leaders think that their organizations have a good offboarding process in place. That’s not a very encouraging statistic.

While employee onboarding is considered important due to the influx of new and fresh talent, offboarding does not always get the same attention.

Here are a few reasons why an employee offboarding checklist and procedure are equally important:

Improves Employee Retention

A proper employee offboarding checklist can help HR create a process that gives an insight into employee exits. It helps demystify the reasons why employees leave the organization and it can be prevented. This can improve the employee retention rate significantly.

Turn Former Employees into Ambassadors

Not all exits need to be bitter. Until and unless there have been some severe issues that lead to an employee’s exit, it can be an amicable separation too. In fact, employees really appreciate it if the exit is a smooth and happy affair.

We always say that first impressions are important, but so are the last ones. A painless offboarding process ensures that you turn your employees into ambassadors for your organization.

Prevents Tribal Knowledge Loss

We live in fast-paced times. The employees do not have to stay at a place for decades to build up a knowledge base. Even an employee who has worked at the organization for a couple of years creates a unique bank of critical information that is important for the growth of the business.

It is important to get a hold of this tribal knowledge before the employee moves on from the organization. That expertise can include the relationships the employee fosters within and outside the organization, the training that was given to the replacement and the roadmaps of the projects the employee leaves behind.

Avoids Security Risks

Usually, employee access to company data is not immediately revoked after the resignation. An offboarding process and checklist make sure that the departing employee does not leave with any data or system that is crucial to the organization. This can prevent any kind of data breach.

Further, the job does not end with the exit of the employee. You have to ensure that the IT permissions and access are updated so that there is no misuse when the employee leaves. Another quick thing that can be included in the creation of an ‘out of office’ mail for some time, until the people corresponding with the leaving employee are in the loop. This will also give the replacement a chance to get acquainted with the data and information present in the email communication of the employee who has left.

Mitigates Legal Issues

A proper employee offboarding checklist ensures that every document is accounted for and filed, thus leaving little room for any legal disputes or lawsuits to occur in the future. This is especially important in the case of terminations, or if the reason for the employee leaving is a disagreement with the manager or colleague.

How is the Transfer of Tribal Knowledge Crucial in Employee Offboarding?

As per the Harvard Business Review, there are four areas that become a pain-point when an employee leaves. Not coincidentally, knowing these four areas is also imperative because it knows exactly how to tackle them while the employee makes an exit.


If the exiting employee is an expert, chances are they know other experts in the industry as well. When they exit, those relationships on the behalf of the organization could be gone as well. Connections are important for any business to grow. HR should know how to use this information in the most productive manner. Relationships built by employees for the business should not be lost when the employee leaves.


An employee’s reputation as a part of your organization and can bolster or bring down the employer’s brand. A stellar employee’s exit may affect the organization, and not in a good manner. Similarly, too much attrition in the same position may also chip at the trust of your stakeholders.

When an employee exits, consider how it would affect the reputation of the organization and what is the best way to control the damage if any.


Employee exits leave behind a void that needs to be filled soon with a replacement. The incoming person has to have a similar level of knowledge or the ability to grasp enough knowledge at a good speed so that they can keep up with the tasks of the employee who left.

The time taken and money spent to train the new replacement should also be taken into consideration.


Employees leave with their ideas, some of which can be innovative and revolutionary. How do you replace that? Many times, they spend years with your organization to create certain products and services and are the sole custodians of the same. Once they leave, it affects the further development of those products and services. Consider this as well when the employee exits.

Tribal knowledge is essential and can be retained with careful planning.

What are the Components of an Employee Offboarding Checklist?

Employee exit management is incomplete without an offboarding checklist. And to create a good offboarding checklist, it is important to know its key components.


Cover all channels of communication. This includes informing the manager, setting up a meeting with the employee, informing the team members, and also informing the relevant departments.

Exit Interview

One extremely important aspect of communication with respect to the offboarding process is an exit interview.

This is an extremely important issue, both for the organization and for the exiting employee. For the organization, this gives a peek into the mind of the employee and gives an understanding of how to make things better. It is also quite insightful for the employee as they are able to air their grievances without any fear of retaliation.

Knowledge Transfer

This is important with respect to the new hire who will be taking over. Ensure that the transfer of the entire system of information and assets happens. This also includes a list of useful contacts and other useful learning resources.

All of this is a part of knowledge transfer which is imperative to the training of the new employee.

Asset Recovery

This is yet another very important aspect of any employee offboarding process. Most organizations provide the employee with a laptop and other hardware that may be required for them to maximize productivity. The logistics team needs to recover these.

IT Access Updates

Restrict IT access as soon as the employee leaves. This means transferring or closing the email accounts and other modes of communication for the exiting employee. Redirect the accounts and change entrance permissions, accordingly.


Another important aspect that should be a part of an employee onboarding checklist is proper documentation. Take care of the following for an efficient employee offboarding:

  • Signed resignation letter
  • Non-disclosure agreement
  • Full and final dues
  • Final paycheck
  • Confirmation upon the receipt of the experience letter
  • Employee benefits that would continue

These are also the steps of an efficient offboarding process and can be sequenced in a way the organization deems fit.

What Happens When an Employee Offboarding Process Goes Wrong?

Good exit management depends on how well HR handles offboarding. Let us take you through some of the situations so that reiterates why having an employee offboarding checklist should be a priority.

  • In the absence of any checklist or process in place, there may be many discrepancies, some in the form of unsettled claims.
  • For the employee, a delay in the exit process may lead to the loss of a good opportunity, which in return may give rise to dissatisfaction.
  • Bad culture and abrupt exits can lead to a bad reputation in the market, thus leading to a slower influx of employees.
  • Disgruntled employees may use data leaks as a form of payback.
  • Boomerang employees are can be a reflection of employees craving a better cultural fit again. But what’s the point of going through an offboarding process and then an onboarding process for the same person? Solve the issue at the exit level and retain the employees if possible.
  • Any employee termination on account of serious issues such as fraud or misconduct requires proper proof and procedure. Any lapses in the documentation here can work against the organization.

It is important to have a proper employee exit management process in place, starting with an employee exit checklist, so that your offboarding is be a painless one. While the process may be a little tedious to start with, once established, it will be a smooth ride.

Does Every Business Need an Offboarding Process?

A good employee offboarding process ensures that you retain your data, relationship, and reputation, along with your efficiency. A checklist helps you achieve that even better. Getting an offboarding process in place is one step to an organized employee exit.

How does the offboarding process at your organization work? Do share with us at @HarmonizeHQ.