Is offboarding important? We ask a local HR consultant what a company should do for a departing employee


What do you do when an employee leaves your company? According to Jillian Moores, HR consultant with Quo HR, too few organizations have the answer to that question.

“Across the clients I’ve had in the last three or four years, I’ve never actually seen a formal offboarding process,” said Moores.

A 2023 survey from Capterra showed that only one-quarter of small and medium-sized businesses in Canada have implemented a formal offboarding process.

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Unlike the structured process of onboarding, which typically includes a lengthy checklist of priorities both logistical and interpersonal, Moores said the offboarding process leaves much to be desired, if it exists at all.

“It’s not that there aren’t good intentions; it just doesn’t seem to be a priority,” she said. “It’s not seen as something that has an impact on the organization.”

It’s an understandable perspective for employers to have. In order to set a new team member up for success, a plan is needed to ensure that person feels welcomed and prepared. There’s mountains of paperwork to be filled in, resources to allocate, training modules to complete and introductions to make.

Outgoing employees, meanwhile, are often quietly shuffled off: passwords changed, keycards disabled and laptops returned without much fanfare.

While onboarding is vital to an employee’s success, Moores said the importance of offboarding should not be overlooked.

For one, Moores said the two weeks between a resignation notice and the last day of work can have a major impact on a departing employee’s view of the company.

“I’ve personally seen very sad instances where we have employees leave an organization – for whatever reason – and nobody even knows,” she said. “ I’ve seen really good employees leave organizations with a bad taste in their mouth. And that’s really because in the last two weeks of their job, the offboarding wasn’t handled in a dignified way.”

Moores said she’s started to see a trickle of interest from clients who want a more formal offboarding process, one that includes its own checklist of priorities.

According to Moores, it doesn’t need to be complicated or elaborate.

“Aside from the logistical stuff, even just communicating to others when somebody is leaving, thanking them for the contributions they’ve made and naming what those contributions are,” she said.

A good offboarding process, she added, can also have a trickle-down effect.

“I think it’s very helpful for morale,” she said. “When (employees) see somebody leaving and there’s kind words and thank yous and an actual plan around transferring knowledge over, that really helps employee morale. Employees do see that; it helps with overall engagement within your organization.”

When it comes to improving an offboarding process, Moores suggested starting with a review of the onboarding process.

“Onboarding is typically not complicated, so that would be the first place to look,” she said. “What do we do for onboarding? We load their information into our system, we set them off with a key card and we get them a welcome basket. So really, these things should happen at the end too, right? Make sure all those pieces flow out the way they flowed in.”

Employees leave their posts for any number of reasons, from resignations and layoffs, to terminations and retirements. While each situation is different, Moores said it comes down to treating employees with respect.

“We need to treat employees the same way as when they come into the organization,” she said. “We treat them with the same respect when they leave.”

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