The Exit Experience

19.06.24 Articles

Organisations pore over the importance of creating a stellar onboarding experience for new employees. And rightly so.

But I think the end of an employee’s journey is just as important, whether they choose to leave, or if circumstances demand it.

Failing to give them a positive leaving experience risks damaging your company’s reputation, culture, and ability to hire new people onto your team.

In the last few months, I’ve spoken to far too many people who haven’t had a good leaving experience. From shocking communication, to being ostracised after they resign, people who were once highly valued colleagues are leaving employers with an increasingly sour taste in their mouths.

Here’s why businesses need to prioritise the departure process just as much as they do the onboarding process…

  • Protecting Your Reputation

The world we live in is small, and word travels fast. When employees leave a company, their experiences – good or bad – can significantly influence your reputation. In today’s digital age, former employees don’t just tell their friends in industry, they have numerous platforms to share their exit stories – LinkedIn and Glassdoor to name just two. On the flip side, a good exit can really enhance your company’s image.

  • Managing the Transition

A well-managed exit process is a great way to reinforce the value a departing employee offered your company. It also shows your other employees the importance you place on your people and maintains cultural advocacy. At an operational level, a well-managed exit reduces disruption, maintains productivity, safeguards knowledge, and minimises operational setbacks.

  • Brand Ambassadors

Your former employees are some of the best ambassadors your company will ever have. For years to come, they will refer potential candidates, talk positively about their time with you to their networks, and even become clients or partners in the future. A respectful and appreciative exit process will harness that goodwill to benefit your company long after the employee has left.

  • Feedback

Employees leaving is a brilliant opportunity to gain candid feedback about your organisation. You can gain invaluable insights into workplace culture, management practices, and temperature check how current employees who may not speak up really feel.  Asking for people’s opinions is an essential part of a respectful exit process.

Exit Experience best practice!

Over the years, I have seen my fair share of leaving experiences – the good and the bad. Here are some of my best practices that will set you on the right course!

  • Communication

Maintain open and transparent communication throughout the exit process. Don’t leave opportunity for rumours and whispers to fill in the gaps. That breeds discontent and frustration. Open communication reduces anxiety and builds trust.

  • Feedback

Make sure people have constructive forums to give honest feedback, especially as part of the leaving experience. Make sure these platforms show you are listening.

  • Get the Basics Sorted

When employees leave, make sure it is done so efficiently and accurately. That means getting payroll correct, unused vacation days, severance pay, and any other entitled elements. Leaving your employer is stressful enough, don’t add to that with avoidable administrative errors.

  • Acknowledge and Appreciate

Recognise the contributions of the departing employee. If there are multiple people leaving, as we have seen recently, make the effort to get a personalised note to each of them. You can supplement the personal touch with a public acknowledgement.

  • Support

Outplacement services, job search assistance, or career counselling are commonplace when there is a redundancy scenario. But I think extending support to an employee leaving your Company, should be common practice. Helping them navigate their next steps shows that you care about their future success.

  • Relationships

This isn’t just about re-hiring top talent in the future. You never know when paths may cross again. Often, it’s when you least expect it. So, my advice is keeping the relationship door open!

An employee’s entrance and exit are critical junctures. A positive exit experience is not just a courtesy; it’s a strategic business practice that protects your brand, creates ambassadors, gathers vital feedback, and maintains a productive workplace. I urge you to make sure an employee’s exit journey is as positive as their onboarding.

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