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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