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Are poor offboarding practices damaging your employer brand?

Geneva- January 2023

- 46% of Swiss employees 'put off' their employer indefinitely after negative notice period - Almost half of Swiss professionals (46%) have reported that they have had a negative experience when leaving their past employer – with 1 in 5 companies stating that this is the primary cause of a poor employer brand.

With applications dropping by more than 40% for companies who have a negative employer reputation - Olivier Pietrantoni, Manager at Robert Walters Geneva, shares her thoughts on why more companies should take their off-boarding procedure more seriously. 

What is Offboarding?

Offboarding is pretty much anything that happens once an employee has served notice, reached retirement, or has had their contract terminated – from conversations with management to the formal procedure which leads to the separation between employee and employer.

Why do you think Offboarding is as important as Onboarding?

Olivier: Offboarding – especially the offboarding interview or "exit discussion” is extremely important, not only because it allows employers and employees to reach a mutually accepted end to proceedings but also it gives employers a chance to establish counteroffers to employees they wish to keep.

When an employer fails to deliver a good offboarding session they threaten their entire relationship with the candidate, something that could have taken years to build. Valued relationships between employer and employee can be quickly destroyed by poor offboarding processes  - this could lead to both parties leaving proceedings with a bad taste in their mouths. Not only that but it could further effect an employer’s branding/public image if the former employee decides go further and share their negative experience.

Do you think that companies have been paying more attention to offboarding in the past few years? Perhaps due to the rise of the Great Resignation?

Definitely. Only recently has offboarding began to be considered as something important to company health – partially due to the ‘Great Resignation’ prompting a candidate shortage.

However, recent figures show that only 30% of Swiss companies have an formal offboarding-process – which proves that too many companies are still unaware of the importance of a “smooth” resignation.

What are the common mistakes you see companies make during a resignation?

One of the most common mistakes I see employers make is ignoring their employee once they have handed in their resignation letter – this creates an unpleasant atmosphere in the workplace and can potentially lead to loss of productivity in that employee whilst they fulfill their notice period.

Another common mistake is made when the employer does not question or listen to the reasons why an employee wishes to leave – this could be a missed opportunity for the company to improve in areas they may not have even thought of changing.

A final mistake is made in not carrying out an ‘exit interview’ – this not only prevents any counteroffers being made or accepted but also limits the chance of open discussion or feedback.

Can you outline the best practice for an offboarding process?

Listen – Upon being informed by an employee that they wish to leave the company, a manager should first and foremost listen – letting the employee express in their own words the reasons they wish to leave the company. This can be an extremely stressful and awkward process for an employee, so maintaining a supportive and kind demeanor throughout is extremely important. Simply be quiet, show that you are listening, that you have properly received the information and respond thoughtfully – offering clear guidance on the employee’s options going forward.

It is crucial to organize a follow-up meeting within the days of being informed of an employee’s wishes to resign, to discuss further the employee’s feelings and allow for eventual negotiations.

Involve HR - It is important to create a neutral environment, introducing a third person into proceedings will alleviate any undue pressures being put on the employee having to explain exclusively to their hiring manager the reasons for their resignation. Getting a member of HR  can help employees feel comfortable to speak up. 

Keep proceedings private – Resignations are sensitive matters – they are usually not broadcast internally! Sometimes you do not wish the rest of the employees to be aware of someone’s desire to leave the company and any further details.  So, in this situation, it is always good to have a line to follow in order to keep a healthy working place and gossip to a minimum.

Be prepared - Having something to offer, like a counter offer or maybe a promotion is crucial. Therefore, making sure to benchmark salaries, so that you are ready with a competitive offer can change everything. It can even make an employee want to stay in the company, or at least leave with a positive feeling, keeping them motivated until the very end of their contract thanks to a “leaving bonus” for instance. 

It is also useful to be ready with a clear summary of the remaining tasks and deadlines of what needs to be executed during the notice period so that everything can be done properly.

Leave your ego at the door - Resignations shouldn’t be taken too personally; your employee will have good reason to leave. They might be simply taking a break, or changing careers entirely. Even if they choose to work for your competitors, this can be a chance for you to gain insight on what they are doing better in order to improve in areas you may not have considered.

Showing support to your soon-to-be former employee and maintaining a professional working relationship can prove vital for future dealings. Who knows, they might even wish to rejoin the company in the future!

What would be the outcome, if all of the best practice offboarding processes were executed by a company?

In an ideal world the employer would convince the employee to stay and the company would work on and resolve the issues that were raised in proceedings. All of which would lead to important internal improvements and a revised company image. Even if the employee still decides to leave, they will leave with on a positive note. Whilst the remaining employees will feel reassured that they are working in a safe environment with great offboarding processes – safe in the knowledge that if they find themselves in a similar situation, they could openly talk to their employer about any issues, prior to making any decision. 

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Olivier  Pietrantoni

Olivier Pietrantoni

Tech and Accounting & Finance, Geneva

Olivier has over 8 years of experience in the company between China and Switzerland, and now leads the Tech and Accounting & Finance teams in Geneva.

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