Employee Offboarding Checklist

Many HR departments spend their time putting together an excellent onboarding process that includes extensive documentation, a warm welcome, double checks, and training to get new hires quickly up to speed.  Yet many overlook the employee offboarding process.  The offboarding process for employees requires the same attention to detail as onboardingHaving an employee offboarding checklist for your departing employees is vital and assists the organization in minimizing risks down the road.

What is an employee offboarding checklist?

An employee offboarding checklist will layout all the necessary steps and processes that must be considered when an employee leaves your organization. Often, a checklist will include a digital process that HR staff mark as each step is completed. This way, your HR team can quickly see what has already been done, and what must still be completed.

Why bother with such a formal process? Doing so will reduce security threats, legal issues, and other risks. It also allows departing employees to provide vital feedback that will allow your company to improve itself. A good offboarding process may even make it easier for your company to draw back stellar employees who left for another company.

Let’s take a look at what you should include in your offboarding checklist.

Employee offboarding checklist

1. Communication

Some drag their feet once the offboarding process begins (e.g. an employee announces that they are leaving). It’s best to react quickly and to set things out in certain terms.

  • When is the employee’s last day? Agree upon and document it.
  • Who is taking over responsibilities? There’s often a gap between someone leaving and a replacement getting hired. Make sure support is in place.
  •  When will the job opening be posted and where?

A quick response will reduce headaches and also gossip. If an employee seems to mysteriously leave, some will assume the worst.

2. Institutional knowledge

When an employee exits the organization, they take a lot of knowledge with them about the company. Institutional knowledge is the combination of experiences, processes, data, expertise, values, and information possessed by company employees. It can span decades and comprise crucial trends, projects, perspectives and that define a company’s history. 

An effective offboarding process will help ensure that your company retains as much knowledge as possible. In an ideal situation, a replacement will already be on staff and ready to be retrained. Otherwise, comprehensive documentation and discussions can help your company retain knowledge until a new hire is made.

3. Company hardware and assets

Your offboarding checklist should include a sub-check list for all the property the departing employee needs to return. This includes computers, accessories, access cards, keys, and all the rest. Access cards should be deactivated and reprogrammed when necessary. This return of property letter can help to start.

4. Digital access and assets

You also need to make sure that digital assets, such as system logins and email accounts, are handled. It’s smart to set up email redirects from the departed client’s email to ensure no messages are lost. Again, a sub-checklist with each asset outlined is smart. Your IT team will need to create its own offboarding process and documentation as well. The IT team should coordinate with the HR team, however, to ensure everyone is on the same page.

5. Documentation

An employee offboarding checklist for your organization should contain many pieces of documentation. This includes:

  • Termination or resignation letter (with needed dates)
  • Noncompete and nondisclosure agreements, when applicable
  • Benefits documents (including retirement, healthcare, insurance, etc…)

If legal issues arise, an auditable paper trail may prove vital. Termination safeguards can protect companies from disgruntled employees as well and ensures the employee knows they are terminated. Meanwhile, benefits documentation provides clarity for companies and former employees alike. This may reduce tensions and future arguments.

The offboarding process often involves a lot of paperwork, manual processes, and individual documents. Make sure nothing is lost in the process as it’s easy to overlook a document. Ensure everything is signed and dated as well, and that physical copies are provided when necessary.

6. Exit interview

A well-thought out, honest interview is beneficial for your organization and the departing employee. This can take place with either an in-person interview or a questionnaire. It may be best to let the employee choose. 

What’s important is understanding why the employee left, what problems there were, and how your company can increase its own strengths. Honest feedback may prove critical to understanding where your company can improve and what weaknesses are present.


When an employee leaves, their journey with your company is likely ending, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook the offboarding process. A well thought-out employee offboarding checklist will protect your company, provide clarity, and in the long-run, may help your organization address weaknesses and increase retention.


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