Lessons about employee offboarding: A Ferris wheel owner’s experience

Sep 24, 2020 | The Employee Journey

Lessons about employee offboarding

Imagine for a minute that you make a living by owning and running a Ferris wheel at a fairground…

Unfortunately, your time together has come to an end. Maybe it’s the end of the day and time to go home. Maybe they’ve been tempted by another ride. Maybe they just didn’t enjoy it. Whatever the reason, it’s the end of an era.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Their departure makes way for another rider who will bring a new energy to the ride.

As you help them out of the cab, you use the opportunity to get some feedback – what did they like about the ride, how did it meet expectations, why did they feel ready to get off? You may not be able to convince them to stay on the ride, but you can certainly leave them feeling like a valued part of the Ferris wheel family.

Remember the value of word of mouth referrals. Ttreating them the same way when they leave as you did when they got on the ride. Make sure they wander around the rest of the fairground thinking positive things about your ride, recommending it to others and willing to ride it again. 

Smile to yourself as another satisfied customer moves onto something new, proud at the experience you gave them and the part you played in their time at the fairground.

But don’t neglect your other riders. The ones still seemingly enjoying their experience with you. Check in with them more frequently for a while. Extra interactions can make all the difference during this time.

That’s a great story but… how does this apply to my business?

In the business world, offboarding an employee isn’t really much different, the stages are the same

The intent to depart becomes known

Whether the decision was yours or theirs, at some stage, there will be a conversation where the outcome is that the employee is leaving. Regardless of whose decision it was, this is an important conversation and one that deserves to be handled respectfully. This will be one of their final memories of your time together, so make sure you treat them as you would wish to be treated if roles were reversed. Leave a good impression.

The rest of the company will also need to be informed. Talk to your employee about whether they would like to share the news, or for it to come from you. And then, once it’s public knowledge, you may wish to express your gratitude for their time with you, the contribution they made and the hole they’ll be leaving. It may also be appropriate to share what plans you have for replacing the role.

This sort of news has the potential to unsettle some members of the team, so be sure to make time to speak to them one on one to find out how they’re feeling, if/how the news impacts them and whether they have any concerns you can address to improve their experience with you.

The last few days

This is a great time to arrange some time with the departing employee to get some feedback about their experience with you – what prompted the decision, was there anything you could have done to keep them, do they have any feedback about the company? You may wish to follow this up with a written survey to gather some extra data, but the face to face conversation is important for delivering an experience they will look back fondly on. And don’t forget to act on their feedback and implement changes based on what you’ve learnt.

Again, keep checking in with the remaining members of the team – how are they feeling, do they have any concerns you can address – this is a notable time in their journey with you too so you have a great opportunity to shape their experience.

Their last day should be marked publicly again. Whether it’s an all-staff email, a gathering around desks or a speech during after work drinks (or all of the above!). This is your last opportunity to recognise and thank them for their time with you. Remember that other employees will be watching how you handle this, so, even though it may be too late to convince the departing employee to stay, you are setting the tone for other members of the team – don’t make them question their time with you.

After they’ve left

They may be gone, but make sure they’re not forgotten. Keep in touch with them, follow their career, recommend them on LinkedIn, stay connected.

Remember the importance of word of mouth referrals. Ex-employees are your brand ambassadors. Make sure that, during the rest of their career, if they were asked about their time working with you, they recall the positives and recommend you.

Stay in their hearts and minds and one day, your paths may cross again.

In summary:

When it comes to employee offboarding, your job is to ensure their experience ends well and you leave a positive final impression. To safely help them off the ride, learn from their experience and wish them well wherever their journey leads them. Regardless of how long your time together was, you want them to head off with fond memories and as happy brand ambassadors.

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