Advice on offboarding during the lockdown

Advice on offboarding during the lockdown

Having to say goodbye to an employee at this time is clearly an unfamiliar situation. Regardless of whether the employee stops voluntarily or is laid off, it is important to look after the leaving employee, colleagues in the department and the tasks being left behind. This can be a challenge, and some things can easily be forgotten or lost, especially at this time, when we are not seeing each other at work. For this reason, we have prepared a checklist of important things to remember when an employee leaves during this period. 

Communicate that the employee is leaving

You should tell the closest colleagues and collaboration partners that the employee is leaving as quickly as possible.

Allocate assignments and start the transfer as soon as possible

Given that transferring tasks may be a particular challenge at the moment, when it is not possible to be physically together, it is a good idea to allocate the leaving employee's tasks quickly. As a manager, you should be in regular contact with the leaving colleague, and those who are to take over tasks, to ensure that the transfer runs smoothly.

Hold an exit interview

An exit interview with the employee who is leaving can be a good opportunity to learn something about the workplace, yourself as a manager, and about the organisation as a whole. Hearing about good and bad experiences from an employee who is leaving can provide valuable indications for where improvements should be made in the future. The interview should always be voluntary, and it is important to respect an employee’s unwillingness to take part in an interview.

During the interview, you could ask such questions as:

  • What is behind your decision to leave the workplace?
  • What tasks have you appreciated most/least during your time at the department?
  • What is it like working in the team, at the department and with collaboration partners?
  • What would you like to have had more/less of from me as a manager?
  • How do you think that we can make the job even more attractive for your successor?

Good farewell to colleagues – possibly virtual now and/or in person later

Irrespective of the reason, changing job and workplace is always a big decision. The last working day often ends with some sort of social event, where close colleagues can say goodbye and extend their good wishes for the future. As this is not possible at the moment, as a manager, you should offer to arrange an online meeting for the purpose. If the employee so wishes, you could also invite him/her to visit when everyone is again back at the workplace physically.

As with saying goodbye to close colleagues, you should be aware of the psychological aspects in that employees cannot leave in the way they would like. For example, it is currently not possible to go around the workplace and say goodbye to colleagues outside the department. Therefore, you should consider inviting your employee back after the lockdown to say goodbye to close colleagues and more peripheral colleagues.

Deciding how to pack the items in the employee's office

At the moment, we should not be physically at the workplace, and this presents a challenge for the employee with regard to packing items and personal belongings in the employee’s office. Therefore, together with the employee, you will have to decide whether to do this at a later time, or whether to grant exemption so that the employee can come and pack any items/belongings during the lockdown.

Returning material and equipment

Unfortunately, more often than you would think, many employees fail to return their equipment when they leave. You should therefore check that the employee has returned effects such as keys, key cards, laptops, mobile phones, etc. It is also important to think about how equipment can be returned at a time when the university is physically closed.