Offboarding Strategies for the Public Sector

by Lauren Girardin on November 29, 2018

An employee’s last day is no less important than their first day. To get useful information from employees before they leave for good, your agency needs a positive offboarding process that culminates with a respectful, diplomatic exit interview.

Often, a public sector agency’s entire offboarding effort is a single perfunctory interview on the employee’s last day—if there’s any effort at all. Exit interviews and the offboarding process are valuable tools for agencies to understand what’s working and what not. Happy ex-employees are also an excellent source for referring job applicants, and may themselves become employees again in the future.

Treat offboarding as more than an afterthought, and you’ll create a smooth transition for both the soon-to-be former employee and the staff who remain. You’ll encourage employees to be generous and candid with their feedback. And, you’ll reduce the risk of errors that can lead to lawsuits and other headaches.

As the employee's separation date approaches, there are many strategies that public sector agencies can use to make exit interviews and the offboarding process more successful.

Identify and fix issues before they become problems

Don’t wait until the exit interview to let employees know how well they’re doing their job or to hear what they think about their role, their manager, and the way the agency is run. Starting on their first day, encourage employees to share their ideas and feelings to minimize the frustration that can drive people to look for a new job. Continually share performance feedback with employees to set clear expectations, give them every opportunity to correct course, and create a culture of ongoing support.

Start offboarding as soon as they give their notice

The exit interview is just one part of an effective offboarding process. A departing employee will have knowledge to transfer, paperwork to complete, materials and equipment to return, and goodbyes to share. Do all these steps well and, rather than filling the final exit interview with administrative drudgery, you’ll be able to devote time to listening to the employee’s honest and valuable feedback.

Don’t miss a step

Keeping track of everything that has to happen before the exit interview can be tricky, especially when tasks need to be coordinated across teams. To make sure that you’ve missed nothing and complied with regulations, create checklists tailored by position, department, division, or location. Centralize these checklists in a digital offboarding portal for easy access. Set up the portal to automatically remind the employee, their manager, and others about the tasks they need to do, streamlining the process for everyone involved.

Make offboarding a pleasant experience

If employees are made to feel vulnerable, confused, or intimidated during the offboarding experience, that may discourage them from sharing candid feedback during the exit interview that your agency needs. An offboarding portal can help set a supportive, positive tone and increase transparency into the entire process. The portal can be used to personalize the experience for each individual, and make offboarding consistent no matter their job level or department.

Retain and act on valuable information

If you solicit employee feedback, you’d better be ready to use it. The key to being able to act on information learned through the offboarding process and exit interviews is to simplify the collection, retention, and analysis of that information. A digital portal makes the offboarding workflow less time and resource consuming, and gives people access to real-time insights. Let staff know how you’ll use the feedback from exit interviews, and you’ll demonstrate that you value the contributions of all employees, past, current, and future.

Lauren Girardin

Lauren Girardin is a marketing and communications consultant, writer, and speaker based in San Francisco. She helps organizations engage their communities and tell their stories. Her website is laurengirardin.com and you can connect with her on Twitter at @girardinl.