Offboarding Is Just As Important As Onboarding

by Sharlyn Lauby on February 23, 2012

(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is sponsored by SilkRoad technology, whose goal is to help companies gain an advantage by managing the entire career cycle of their employees.  SilkRoad has been recognized for their innovative recruitment management system, OpenHire, and their outstanding dedication to customer service.  I hope you enjoy learning more about their products.)

There’s lots of conversation these days about onboarding. And with good reason – onboarding is tremendously important. It helps create a positive first impression of the organization. It can also accelerate an employee’s initial SilkRoad, technology, software, hr, human resources, RedCarpetproductivity. These factors contribute to overall employee engagement.  Truly, all good stuff.

But sometimes it’s easy to forget about the other things that take place once onboarding is over. We’re so focused on creating the perfect onboarding experience that it takes a little nudge to remind us how important post-onboarding events can be.

That’s how I felt when my friends at SilkRoad shared with me their RedCarpet product. RedCarpet is an onboarding solution. But it does so much more.

onboarding, offboarding, redcarpet, silkroad, social, COBRAFrom the onboarding perspective, RedCarpet handles all the typical new hire forms – everything from the I-9 to direct deposit. It can also accommodate unique forms for example, if your company issues a uniform. And you can create a new hire portal with video welcome messages and general procedures for employees to view.

But (and here’s the cool part), you can use it for offboarding too!

Now I’ve worked with some managers who felt offboarding was a waste of time. Once an employee gave notice well, that was it. The soon-to-be former employee was a traitor and their last day couldn’t come soon enough (sound familiar?). But former employees play a valuable role for your organization. A very valuable role.

Past employees will always be a brand ambassador. They know your company very well. They can continue to sing the company’s praises or tell their friends it’s a terrible place to work. The way employees are treated when they decide to leave will speak volumes about how they talk about the company.

Former employees can be a terrific source for referrals. Whether it’s customer or candidate referrals, former employees know your organizational strengths. They have the ability to help you using their new connections.

Lastly, prior employees sometimes decide they want to come back and work for you. Yep, that’s right…remember the concept of “being rehired”? Sometimes people need new experiences. Sometimes the grass isn’t always greener at the new job. Leaving the door open for great employees to return can be a wonderful thing for your business.

Let me share with you a couple of stories to emphasize the point.  The first is from my personal experience. My first human resources job was with a terrific company. I had a wonderful boss – she had been with the company for over 20 years. She was smart and very willing to share her expertise. The downside? She also wasn’t going anywhere. So if I wanted to move up (and I did), I would ultimately have to move out. She was super cool with my intentions and really helped me get my first HR management position. We kept in touch and years later, I got a call asking if I’d like to interview for a vice president role with the company.

If my departure had been stressful, disorganized and disappointing, the chances of that call happening would have been slim.

The other example is from one of SilkRoad’s clients, Lifestyle Family Fitness. The company operates more than 50 fitness clubs, primarily in the Southeast U.S. and is currently one of the 20 fastest-growing health club chains in the world.

Lifestyle uses the RedCarpet solution for several employee life events including onboarding. But as their name implies, they’re a fitness club and employees are given a fitness membership as an employee benefit (which is tracked in RedCarpet). When an employee leaves, the last thing Lifestyle wants is for an employee to stop being a member. This isn’t just a be nice to former employees mantra; it’s a key business metric.

SilkRoad’s RedCarpet solution allows companies to track all the steps in the offboarding process. From making sure that COBRA info is sent to completing the exit interview. Lifestyle even uses RedCarpet to maintain an Alumni Network for future recruiting activities.

This frees up time for HR and the employee’s immediate supervisor to focus on the other aspects of offboarding – like proper transfer of knowledge, training a successor, and getting good feedback about the employee’s career experience.

Yes, onboarding is important. But don’t forget – offboarding is equally important. When you’re thinking about the employee life cycle within your company, plan to spend just as much time developing the perfect offboarding experience as you do creating the onboarding process. Your company will see the benefits.

My thanks to SilkRoad for sharing the Lifestyle story. If you’d like to see a quick demo of the RedCarpet solution, click here. And be sure to stay in touch with SilkRoad by reading their blog, liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter.

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david k waltz February 23, 2012 at 6:04 am

Sharlyn,

Some companies really benefit from their alumni, a lot of the big consulting firms actively interact with them due to the benefits a motivated former employee can deliver. Great idea to cover this oft neglected topic!
david k waltz recently posted..Working Capital – Finance and Inventory

Sally Smarts February 23, 2012 at 9:08 am

Great info about how ex-employees can become brand ambassadors. I’d love to see some data about user adaptability in how many people respond to requests to join these talent networks. Could they become something more?

Anthony Sork February 23, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Sharlyn – really good article. We have been promoting exactly this through greater understanding of Employee Attachment and Employee Detachment.

Our view is that traditional exit interviews really aren’t worth the time given the way most are conducted. A structured Detachment measure and then a targeted interview is the a far more effective approach.

As for the “post” employment phase, we are very much trying to promote understanding of the value of this group of employees as you have done here.

Employer Brand value is significantly influenced by this group second only to existing employees. They are also a great source of referral of talent. We have been promoting a phrase which is very Australian for the final value you have identified which is BOOMERANGING talent. That is, talent that has left for the right reasons and has gained experience and skills elsewhere are a rich source of talent to attract back to your organisation.

Traditional views towards talent that has left an organisation has often been regarded (particularly by senior managers) as a form of betrayal. This is often far from the truth and is very short sighted when considering the limmited talent pool and the investment that has been made in them up to that point. Not only are they of high value because of what they bring back to the organisation, they are also far less expensive to Attach and on-board again.

Thanks for a great read and if you are interested in either Employee Attachment or Employee Detachment then come and check out our site http://www.EmployeeAttachment.com

All the best,

Anthony Sork
Managing Director
Sork HC
http://www.sorkhc.com.au

Debra Muchow February 24, 2012 at 12:08 am

I am in the middle of implementing 4 of SilkRoad’s products: WingSpan, OpenHire, RedCarpet, and, GreenLight. We are going ‘all in’ with automating the employee life cycle. I work for 150 year old forestry and lumber company and we are hoping our approach with employees will be a big differentiator from the competition.

Ginger February 24, 2012 at 9:59 am

Great comments here! Like you said, Anthony – many times employers do view an employee leaving as a betrayal, but so often that is not the case at all. We rehire quite a few former employees at SilkRoad and if they were a good fit the first time, they are an even better fit the second time around! They have been to other places and gained more experience. They already have strong relationships within the company, they know what they are coming into and there are less surprises for both employee and manager.

And Debra – welcome to SilkRoad! Four solutions at once – that is fantastic! Will you be using RedCarpet for offboarding and “life events” as well as onboarding?

Debra Muchow February 24, 2012 at 11:39 am

Yes, Ginger…we hope to use every feature of RedCarpet…in fact, that is my plan for all of our SilkRoad implementations. In fact, with WingSpan…we are using Appraisals, Goal Setting, Compensation, and Succession Planning all right now. Seems like we are maybe the only customer right now with a full implementation going.

Sharlyn Lauby February 24, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Thank you everyone for sharing your thoughts and experiences. As David mentioned, offboarding doesn’t always get as much attention as onboarding…but it’s equally important. It’s nice to see a product like RedCarpet that can accommodate both. Debra, thanks for sharing your experience with our great friends at SilkRoad.

Ginger February 24, 2012 at 2:36 pm

That’s awesome, Debra! Jumping right in – I like it. Yes, I think the majority of our customers, when they select several solutions at once, usually implement one or two at a time. Or – even with just one solution, occasionally they will start with one piece of it and then expand as they are comfortable with it. I think some people probably find it a little easier to manage that way, but I like your rock star spirit! I’m glad you are planning to use all pieces.

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