Last month we looked at onboarding new employees. In many respects offboarding mirrors onboarding, essentially "undoing" employee onboarding tasks. Because of this, leading onboarding vendors offer tools to manage both processes. However, the offboarding process is different enough to warrant a deeper look. The uniqueness arises out of the fact that, regardless of the circumstances, offboarding is a "good-bye"- the end of a relationship, which is much different than the "hello" welcoming new employees.
The offboarding process manages employees through their departure from a company by facilitating the completion of exit tasks, including exit interviews, forms completion, the return of company property, and ensuring that employees receive the appropriate extended benefits. This process is an important part of making sure the exiting employee feels positively about their experience at the company no matter what their specific situation may be.
In addition to making sure the employee is assisted during their departure, the offboarding process ensures that the company receives the appropriate information and materials from the employee before their last day. This can help protect the company and mitigate the risks inherent in the offboarding process. Furthermore, the offboarding process is an opportunity for the company to learn from exit interviews and get other feedback from offboarded employees.
Proper offboarding has real, bottom-line benefits as a result of the return of company property and timely termination of benefits. Impact on productivity can be minimized, particularly when knowledge transfer is facilitated, helping the remaining personnel to effectively pick up responsibilities and work in progress. Hard copy paperwork can be virtually eliminated. The mitigation of compliance and security risks is imperative and is a primary focus for HR professionals.
All of these benefits can be realized through a planned and technology-assisted offboarding process.
When faced with processes that are repeated on an on-going basis and combined with a lack of technology automation, most people create a checklist to help solve the problem. For both onboarding and offboarding, checklists are virtually universal. Word processing files, spreadsheets, or PDF documents are most commonly utilized. Checklists are helpful, but fall short for most organizations because they require manual processes for communication and coordination among and between the various stakeholders. Additionally, for offboarding, checklists are not good at handling variations such as termination type, role-specific tasks, geography and location, and employee groups.
The ubiquitous checklist is one of the key requirement inputs when automating offboarding. It is not uncommon for offboarding systems to incorporate the concept of a checklist in their applications. With technology, a personal checklist can be generated that takes into account all of the variations and produces a clear, online view of what needs to be done, by whom, and when. Following are the primary elements of an offboarding solution - all of which are available through a secure, online portal for use by all stakeholders:
- Online website. A secure portal for exiting employees that provides them online information and the ability to complete forms and other tasks.
- Management dashboard. For HR personnel this is an online status view of employees in the offboarding process. There is an online checklist for each employee. For other stakeholders the dashboard provides a view into the process and the ability to manage their tasks to completion.
- Task management. Includes employee tasks to complete and sign online documentation. All HR tasks and tasks assigned to other departments to turn off email and other application access, facilities, security, badging, etc.
- Workflow. Tasks and communication are tied together via process workflows. Includes automated email communication.
- Online forms and agreements. All documentation should be available online complete with electronic signatures and pre-filled with employee information.
- Proactive communication. These include notifications, reminders, etc.
- Benefits coordination. These include COBRA, unemployment eligibility and proper termination of other benefits.
- System integration. Automated updates of HRMS, payroll and benefits administration systems. System integration ensures that that system of record is updated in a timely fashion. Other systems like document management (for archiving offboarding documentation), badging and asset management systems can be integrated as well.
- Exit interview. Documented scripts help to deliver consistency in the offboarding process. Data can be stored and trend reports generated for analysis.
- Audit trail. Log files and reports that document the offboarding process complete with date and time stamps.
Many people are involved in the employee exit process, and they all benefit from the use of technology. Respect and dignity for the exiting employee, regardless of the circumstances, are important for everyone. For the exiting employee, being treated properly reduces stress and facilitates an efficient transition. Other employees are watching and listening. They are affected by how their friends and colleagues are treated. And remember they will stay connected. A clear process and consistent communication can significantly reduce stress and negative feedback.
Other stakeholders in the process benefit from an offboarding system as well. Given the defined timeline of offboarding, managers and supervisors can help manage tasks to timely completion. And the various departments can manage the decommissioning of equipment, system access, and the return of company property.
Ultimately, HR personnel are responsible for the outcome of the exit process. The online dashboard is an excellent tool to manage the process and ensure a smooth transition - getting their checklist online and adapted to all the variations makes this possible. Regulatory and internal policy compliance is ensured. And, lastly, offboarding technology allows HR to stay connected with ex-employees after their last day. After all, we live in a dynamic and connected world.
Lamb is SVP and general manager, Benergy Interworks, at A.D.A.M. Inc., in Atlanta. You can reach him at email@example.com.
A vision for patient-centered care
A coalition of 27 health, aging, labor and consumer organizations has released a report, the "Consumer Platform for Health IT," which they call a vision for a patient-centered health care system.
Members of the Consumer Partnership for eHealth represent 127 million individuals. The platform represents five years of work by the organizations, according to the partnership. Consumers are the most significant untapped resources in health care and can contribute ideas and solutions that other stakeholders may never consider, according to the platform.
"Full engagement of consumers in leadership and decision-making roles at the policy and governance levels is essential, not just for gaining their trust and buy-in, but also for maximizing the likelihood of meeting patient and consumer needs," the platform states.
Developers of the platform lay out numerous expectations for what a "truly" patient-centered health care system should offer, including:
* clinical information contributed by the individual is used to provide holistic care
* the right information is provided to the right person at the right time
* information is used and presented in ways that are meaningful to the individual
* information is exchanged privately and securely without unnecessary barriers to its use
* information is used to ensure fair and equitable treatment of all. The platform is available at nationalpartnership.org/platform.
- Joseph Goedert, Health Data Management, a SourceMedia publication
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