Offboarding checklist: 5 steps for an effective exit + free template
It is normal for HR teams to spend a lot of time and resources building an effective onboarding process — however, offboarding is just as important.
Research shows that team members who have a positive offboarding experience and left on good terms are almost three times more likely to recommend your company to potential job prospects than those who have a negative or even neutral experience.
My own experience as People and Talent Manager at CharlieHR has taught me how vital the offboarding process is to:
- Staying compliant
- Collecting honest feedback from the leaving team member
- Ensuring the rest of the team can continue to do their best work
In this article, I’m going to share what our offboarding checklist looks like at Charlie after the many iterations we carried out in the last few years. I hope it is helpful to build your own!
If you’re in a rush, you can also go straight to our offboarding checklist template.
5 steps to tick off your onboarding checklist
Your team member’s leaving date is just one point in time — the actual offboarding process starts way earlier and extends up to a month after your employee has left.
At Charlie, we split employee offboarding tasks into 5 phases:
- When the team member announces they’re leaving
- Two weeks out of their leaving date
- Their last week
- Their last day (and the day after)
- Next payday
Now let’s dive into what each step entails — plus, I’m going to share with you all the checklists we use at Charlie and how you can make it all happen in onboarding software.
Phase 1 - Agree on leaving date and let everyone know your team member is leaving
When someone decides to resign, the first person to know will be their line manager. What happens then?
Offboarding Checklist - Phase 1:
- Agree on leaving date
- Send offboarding email to leaver (same as you would a welcome email to your new employee, you need to give them a proper send off after all)
- Manager communicates resignation to the rest of the company
The priority is to agree on a leaving date. This may require some negotiation, especially if the team member wants to leave before the end of their notice period.
At Charlie, we’re generally open to negotiating a date that works for both parties — just ensure there is enough time for the leaver to prepare a detailed handover and to document anything that will need to be delegated to the rest of the team. This may take at least three months for someone in a high-responsibility position.
Another detail you’ll have to sort out as soon as possible after someone resigns is the offboarding email. This is an email you’ll send to the leaving team member to outline what his final weeks at the company will look like.
It’s a good idea to have a template ready to avoid having to write this email from scratch every time someone hands in their resignation. You can download our free template here 👇.
Next on your list, you’ll have to plan when and how to announce your team member’s resignation to the rest of the company.
We don’t like to keep things like these hidden at Charlie — we find it counterproductive. Break the news as soon as the leaver’s decision is final, and you’ll avoid unnecessary gossip and ensure your team has plenty of time to prepare.
At Charlie, the leaver’s line manager announces it in one of our all-hands meetings. This gives a chance for everybody to congratulate them on their new role and keeps communication open and transparent.
So, to wrap it all up, here’s the checklist we use at Charlie for the days immediately following a resignation:
You can also use our employee onboarding checklists template on this page for new hires if you need it.
Phase 2 - Transfer knowledge and future workload
This is the most important part of the offboarding process, where the team member, their manager and the HR team come together to make sure all the knowledge and company assets are handed over properly and all the compliance boxes are ticked off.
At this stage, we use Charlie’s HR software to create different checklists for the leaver, their manager and the HR team. It is a very handy tool because it allows us to delegate tasks to the right people and check on their progress through the Charlie dashboard.
The system also sends automatic reminders when a deadline is approaching, so we don’t miss anything
Here is what our three checklists for this phase look like:
Offboarding Checklist - Phase 2 (HR team):
- Organise laptop and equipment collection
- Prepare to revoke access to office
- Confirm leaving date with finance to prepare last payroll
- Book an exit interview
- Ask leaver if they would like leaving drinks, and organise if yes
Offboarding Checklist - Phase 2 (manager):
- Ensure the leaver has sent you a letter of resignation with Human Resources in ‘cc (these days, this is usually just an email)
- Write a few words to go in a company-wide email to celebrate the leaver and their contribution
- Oversee the creation of the leaver’s handover document
Offboarding Checklist - Phase 2 (leaver):
- Prepare a comprehensive handover document and run through with team
- Hand over any software or apps you own to a relevant member of the team
The role of the HR or Ops team here is varied. There are several tasks you don’t want to leave to the last minute, like figuring out the best way to get the leaver’s laptop back (alongside any other company property) and preparing their last payroll — these things always take more time than you’d think!
On the other hand, the line manager’s most important task is to oversee the creation of the leaver’s handover document. This must include:
- Any outstanding work that needs to be picked up by someone else
- Introducing the remaining team members to any people outside the business who they worked with on a regular basis
- Key knowledge that coworkers may find helpful
- Give the rest of the team access to any software or platform that they were responsible for in their role
Ideally, the handover document should be ready at least one week before the employee’s leaving date. That way, their manager and team will be able to ask any questions or clarifications and use it as a tool to enable the necessary knowledge transfer.
Phase 3 - Conduct an exit interview and sort out the paperwork
Your team member is now in their last week at your company: it’s time to wrap up the offboarding process.
Offboarding Checklist - Phase 3:
- Conduct exit interview
- Get answers to the last handover questions
- Share instructions on how to wipe laptop
- Circulate a leaving card (can be virtual)
The last week before the employee’s departure is the ideal time to run an exit interview — by now they will have had time to detach from the day-to-day of their role and will probably have some useful feedback to share about the business.
At Charlie, we always let leavers choose who to have their exit interview with: either me (People and Talent Manager), their line manager or someone from the Leadership Team. This is to ensure team members can be as honest as possible with their feedback.
There’s an old saying that says: “people don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses”. So it’s best to offer alternatives if team members don’t feel comfortable challenging their ex-manager or CEO.
It’s also important that a leaver’s last days are used to ask any last-minute questions on the handover documentation they prepared. As soon as they’re out of the door, it will be inconvenient to get in touch with them with further questions — so make sure their team and direct reports (if any) are confident they have everything they need.
Another essential bit of admin that happens in this phase of the offboarding process is for the leaving employee to wipe their laptop (and work phone if they have one). This will obliterate any company data on their hard drive so the computer will be ready to be picked up by new hires when the time comes.
Unless you expect your team member to still do actual work on their last day, I’d recommend asking them to wipe their laptop the day before. The process may take a few hours, and you don’t want to leave it to the very last moment.
One final thing to tick off during this last week is to send a card around for people to congratulate the exiting employee on their new job and wish them luck. This doesn’t need to be a physical card — there are many products out there that help you create virtual ones if your team is remote (check out our guide for remote onboarding if needed).
Phase 4 - Collect all their equipment and revoke access
If you’ve been following our checklist up until this point, it’s likely you won’t be too busy on your employee’s last day.
All that’s left to do is:
- To collect all the company equipment (or arrange delivery if remote)
- To revoke office access
- To set up an email redirect
- … and to give your employee a proper sendoff!
A quick note on the email redirect: if the leaving team member was customer-facing or generally received a lot of emails from outside of the business, you should ensure they set up a redirect, so that any communications to his address after the leaving day can be received by someone else.
This is also the day to publicly recognise, one final time, your team member’s contribution to the business and wish them all the best in the future. At Charlie, we have the leaver’s manager say a few words in an all-hands meeting about their achievements.
And then it’s leaving drinks!
However, the offboarding process doesn’t end here, at least not for the HR department.
The day after your employee leaves, the IT department and yourself will be busy removing the employee from all your software platforms, updating permissions and, if you use Google Suite or something like Dropbox, transferring all the employee’s files to their line manager.
To avoid leaving something out, you may find it useful to use an interactive checklist tool like CharlieHR’s. You can assign every task to a specific person (for example, a developer can be responsible for removing the employee from the company’s About Us page on your website, while the Marketing Manager will revoke access to Google Analytics).
With Charlie’s offboarding checklists, you have full visibility on who’s responsible for what and you can track progress through the dashboard.
Would you like to see how Charlie’s checklists work in detail? Simply start a 7-day free trial here.
Phase 5 - Sort out their last paycheck, provide P45 and give information about share options
What a great feeling, to tick off the last couple of items on your offboarding checklist!
Because that’s where we are — your employee has left and all you need to do on the next pay day is to ensure they receive their final pay (with any adjustments for holiday they didn’t take) and their P45. (more info on new employer starter checklist in streamlining here if needed)
If you offer share options to your team, you should also be in touch with the departing employee to discuss what they’d like to do with them now they have left.
Charlie’s complete employee offboarding checklist
I hope you found this article helpful in streamlining your employee offboarding process.
If you’d like to have all the tasks we discussed on one page, you can download our full offboarding checklist as a Google Sheets template.
You may also be interested in our many resources when it comes down to onboarding: