“There’s the door — don’t let it hit you on the way out.” Have you ever been told that (or felt that) when you’ve departed a job? Whether you are leaving voluntarily or not, at some point, you’ll no longer be working for your current employer, and the company will go through the process of “offboarding” you. Network and application access will be disabled, data will be retrieved from devices, peers will be informed of your departure, and laptops, phones, and access badges will be turned in. If offboarding sounds simple, why do so many organizations get it wrong? Why do ex-employees still have access to corporate data? Why is brand damage overlooked when it comes to layoffs? Because offboarding is too often treated as a simple process. In reality, offboarding is much more complex.

Forrester has just published two reports on employee offboarding, Best Practices For Securely Offboarding Employees and Q&A: Employee Offboarding, in which we provide guidance on these departure procedures, because not only are too many doors left open relating to data access but, too often, many exiting employees are treated like a machine and without any level of dignity — such as when they get laid off via text. How offboarding is handled not only impacts your organization directly; it can also have a lasting effect on how others perceive your organization.

Effective offboarding was hard enough in the past, but as anywhere work has stabilized and users are more mobile than ever before, the risks to businesses have expanded, and the need for documented procedures on how to handle the offboarding of employees is critical to maintaining the integrity of corporate data and providing for a smooth separation.

What about training? During employee onboarding, how many of you were provided training on what the process would be when you left the company? If you are a manager, were you trained on how to handle a departing employee and all the required offboarding tasks? Businesses spend a lot of time and effort developing onboarding programs for new employees that guide them through the process of starting their new role, provide them with access to their needed apps and data, and orient them in their new work to be as effective as possible, but our research found that this isn’t always the case when the employees leave. If your offboarding process consists of giving the employee their last check, turning off access, and cleaning up the rest of it later, you should revisit those processes.

A lot of research went into this topic — hence the two reports to provide business leaders with the guidance that they need to make this separation process better for all parties involved and to maintain the dignity of the person who is leaving your organization, whether it is voluntary or involuntary. Forrester clients can reach out to their account team to schedule an inquiry with me on this research if interested.