Why the way you leave an employer is important

Why the offboarding process can be an important attraction and retention tool.

Resign from your job


We know that there is a skills shortage across multiple industries. Report after report says so, with retention being a big part of the problem. When people leave it is very difficult to replace them. A study late last week highlighted one way that employers can address this – by focusing on the offboarding process in order to maintain good relations with leavers.

The Hidden Cost of Onboarding Graduate Talent study by Wiley Edge found more than two-thirds [71 per cent] of businesses are potentially failing to fill skills shortage vacancies by not having an offboarding process that enables good relations with departing employees who may then return in future if they find that the grass is not greener elsewhere. There has been a lot of talk in the US, for instance, of people regretting decisions made during the pandemic to resign.

Tom Seymour, senior director HR at Wiley Edge, told People Management that employers are failing to think about the possibility of people who leave today returning tomorrow – what he calls ‘boomerang employees. He said: “Employees who have left on positive terms may be more inclined to return to the business at some point in the future, creating a much-needed source of trained talent. Not only can this help businesses to tackle skills gaps, it also means any time and money spent on employees’ training and professional development will continue to be a valuable investment.”

It’s not just a question of maintaining good relations, though. Offboarding processes may include an exit interview to find out why the employee is leaving. That information can also be used to track trends and address internal issues. Many employers don’t track that information or, if they do offer an exit interview, it is just a tickbox exercise and they don’t follow up on the information. Data should not be wasted in that way.

People may be more truthful about the circumstances of their exit than they were during their time at the organisation. Some may, of course, use the exit interview to settle old scores, but if patterns emerge, for instance, related to a particular manager or process then HR should be taking note. Too often line management issues are swept aside by HR when they are frequently the central reason people leave. There are a growing number of toolkits in place for managers and that is great, but exit interviews are a good opportunity to see whether they work and who they are missing.

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