In an article published on the Harvard Business Review blog, Executive Vice President at O.C. Tanner Co. and leader of the O.C. Tanner Institute David Sturt discusses the importance of the employee offboarding process when it comes to opening the door for future opportunities. Here are three key takeaways from his article.

Three Ways To Improve Your Employee Offboarding Process In 2021 and Beyond

1. Take The Opportunity To Listen

An employee exit interview is as important, if not more so than the pre-hire interviews that lead up to their tenure at your company. 

How so?

Well, by this time, they have spent time in the proverbial trenches. It means they can provide you with extremely valuable insight into your corporate culture and how you can go about creating future opportunities for employee retention.

Understand and appreciate that this type of conversation can be tough to have. So, approach it with delicacy and create a safe space where people feel free to share. If you are to get honest feedback at this time, employees need to know that the information they provide regarding their work conditions, peers, and managers will be treated with discretion.

2. Shine The Spotlight On Their Contributions

No matter how you slice it, employee departures are always inconvenient to a certain extent. It creates the need for recruitment, interviewing, hiring expenses, onboarding, and handovers. In short, there is a lot of admin associated with a departure even when it takes place on amicable terms. However, this should not be the cause of uneasiness or a lack of appreciation where the departing employee is concerned. 

HR practitioners and C-suite members should remember to take the time to thank every person who moves on for their contribution to the company throughout their employment. This works best if the show of gratitude is genuine, and reference is made to particular examples of outstanding work, etc.

3. Pave The Way For Ongoing Communication

When an employee walks out the door, have a plan in place to stay in touch. Companies like Citi, Deloitte, Nielsen, and McKinsey & Company understand the value of alumni networks all too well. They have gone through a lot of effort to establish mutually-beneficial platforms on which their alumni can connect with the business and one another. 

There are many benefits to reap from an approach like this. By staying in touch with ex-employees and providing them with incentives to do so (e.g., access to ongoing learning or mentorship opportunities, exciting events, etc.), you lay the groundwork for boomerang hires, consultation work, corporate collaboration, and more.


The employee offboarding process should be a priority for any forward-thinking business. When a member of your team is ready to move on, take the opportunity to really listen, and shine the spotlight on their contributions. Then pave the way for ongoing communication by creating a mutually-beneficial platform to do so.