Companies put a lot of emphasis on onboarding new talent to make sure that employees are integrated and properly settled in their new roles. But should employers pay the same attention to offboarding?

From our experience in assisting companies through layoffs, we know that offboarding an employee is more than paperwork and hardware returns – or at least it should be. The way employees experience leaving a company can have significant impact on employer brand.

Do departing employees post negative reviews on Glassdoor? Would departing employees ever be willing to work for the organization again? The answers to these questions will have enormous bearing on a company’s reputation, so it’s important to understand where offboarding – particularly during a layoff – can help smooth a traditionally turbulent time of transition.

The first thing to be aware of is that displaced employees face a lot of uncertainty. The average job search these days can last close to eight months. And only 56 percent of jobseekers are confident they know the skills required for employment. Not to mention that 60 percent of workers have less than $25,000 in savings. There’s no doubt that a layoff can quickly send an employee into a spiral of panic if they’re not provided with tools to manage the transition.

This is where outplacement plays an important role. Career coaching and job search tools provide support to employees who are unsure about getting back into the job market. Resiliency training and emotional support go a long way toward helping displaced employees navigate through the uncertainty. It’s also critical for managers to notify displaced employees with sensitivity. Delivering a notification is very difficult for both the employee receiving the news and the manager delivering it, but it might benefit both parties if the manager felt comfortable showing compassion without commiserating and addressing difficult questions.

It’s also important to keep in mind the layoff survivors. Sometimes we forget that the employees who are left behind may also be grappling with various emotions and concerns during the transition. Will there be another round of layoffs? Am I next? Guilt, stress and sadness are common – none of which are good for employee productivity and engagement. Considering the surviving employees should be a key part of the offboarding process for employees during a layoff. Is the organization being strategic about layoff decisions and the workloads that must be reassigned? Are staying employees receiving resiliency training or grief counseling? How do surviving employees feel their displaced colleagues are being treated? You must be prepared to strategically answer these questions long before the layoff, or else you may experience negative effects on your employer brand, productivity and retention.

At the end of the day, the way a layoff is handled in respect to displaced and surviving employees has an enormous impact that can long outlast the layoff itself. If there’s one thing to take away from this, it’s that what’s good for your employee is good for your company. An effective offboarding process can have a huge impact on future hiring, affect customer and partner relationships, and influence retention and productivity among remaining employees. Manager notification training, emotional support, resiliency training, and outplacement services should all be key parts of an offboarding process, particularly if the organization hopes to get through the layoff period without permanent scars.

To learn more about offboarding best practices, make sure to check out the latest webinar with Marian Valia, Practice Development Manager at RiseSmart, and Kasey D. Konkright, Expert Services at SilkRoad.

01 September 2015

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