An Interview with Joanne Rencher of Girl Scouts USA

June 11th, 2018

If Onboarding Is the Beginning, Shouldn’t We Also Shape the Ending?

Many companies spend a good deal of time and resources to ensure that they establish a strong onboarding program for their talent, and rightly so. An onboarding program done well is the equivalent of a springboard that can propel an employee to achieve key milestones, while keeping them fully engaged.

At the Girl Scouts, we launched a new Enterprise Onboarding Program in December 2017. We described this program as new employees embarking upon a “journey” … a journey that dramatically and positively influences the new employee’s experience. It’s rich with elements of our brand, and immerses new employees in our strategic objectives from day one.
If Onboarding Is the Beginning, Shouldn’t We Also Shape the Ending?
Many companies
Research shows that companies with a strong onboarding program experience 50 percent greater staff retention than those that don’t have one. Other statistics demonstrate that investing in building a solid onboarding program is a no-brainer.

But, how many companies are investing the time into shaping a strong offboarding program? Not many, from what I’ve observed.

At some point, employees will depart the organization. At that stage, we want them to be our loudest ambassadors, don’t we? As founders, managers, and leaders, we’ve spent time and money investing in them and they’ve earned a living at our place of employment. We should want departing employees to share positive stories with their colleagues and friends in the broader marketplace. They are not “ex-employees”; they now comprise our alumni population. That distinction matters.

There are other benefits to developing a strong offboarding process as well. If the transition is handled in the right way, it can give us a better understanding of why the employee is leaving, and what we might do better next time.

So, how can we shape the right ending for these employees?

Here are three strategies that are worth taking the time to get right:

  1. Give them the incentive to act as champions. Transitions, even planned ones, are never easy. People want to be treated with respect. They generally appreciate being engaged up until the very end, not treated as lame ducks awaiting their termination dates. If they’re active on social media forums, be sure to connect with them to keep them, well, connected.
  2. Don’t stumble through the offboarding. Design thoughtful exit interviews. Ensure that information about returning property, managing benefits, and other final bits of housekeeping is available and clear. This should neither be rushed nor obsessed over. It should simply be handled with care.
  3. Be transparent about the departure with remaining employees. I recognize that this can be tricky given the nature of some departures and the company culture. But, for the majority of departures, open and clear communication will always be the best strategy. Use your company newsletter or some other venue to wish a departing employee well. Small send-offs don’t cost much, and yet they will speak loudly.

If an onboarding program starts the journey, let the offboarding program provide the softest and smoothest of landings once that journey is over.

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