Off-Boarding In The Digital Economy

Danielle Beurteaux

Off-boarding is often overlooked as a employee

You might have on-boarding new employees down to a fine and painless art. But if Department of Labor statistics are on point and we begin to see an increase in voluntary quits, you’ll need an adieu process that’s on par with your welcome—because off-boarding in the digital economy is a new beast. Here’s why.

Securing the fort

According to a recent survey by identity management company Centrify, more than half of employees share access credentials (aka passwords), and that includes contractors. And once an employee has left a company, there’s a good chance they’ll still be able to access some accounts (53% vs 32% in the U.K.). And according to half of the companies surveyed, revoking access typically takes a week or more. So that’s a week of potential open-season activity on your systems—not that we want to make you paranoid or anything.

Your reputation

Even if a potential employee doesn’t respond to a posting on a site like, it’s really easy to access that site’s company reviews and other avenues of feedback. These days job seekers have a range of methods to research potential employers, just as exiting employees have to give their experience a thumbs up or a thumbs down.

Of course, it’s highly improbable—to put it lightly—that a bad employee and an all-round bad job-hire match will be reversed via off-boarding, but taking care of your departing people can be one last positive experience that they’ll remember. In fact, you might want to start calling former employees alumni and adapting the college alumni model to your own practices. As company ambassadors, company alums can be a very valuable add to your brand. To that end, you’ll want to keep connected via your social media as well.

The social divide

Just because your formal relationship has ended doesn’t mean the ties that bind are severed. Did an employee collaborate on projects using social media like Facebook or LinkedIn? Did they, for example, publish bylined blog postings on the company LinkedIn page? When they leave, will they take a chunk of followers along with them? Who has the account passwords? (Here’s an interesting lawsuit filed last January about social media hijacking.)

And of course, it’s easier than ever for colleagues to keep in touch, which leads us to…

The ecosystem of talent

How do people get jobs these days? Through other people. This fact is the basic premise behind LinkedIn, which is why there are now even more sites with a focus on professional networking. Networking is easier and much more wide-ranging than ever, and here’s a chart that puts it in living color. Networking wins in every category by a fair to wide margin.

Former employees can be an incredibly valuable resource for recruiting, especially for tough and highly competitive fields. Employees who feel they’ve been treated well right through the moment they leave are more likely to recommend your company to their network as a good place to work.

For more employee retention strategies, see How to Build Employee Loyalty for Life.

Danielle Beurteaux

About Danielle Beurteaux

Danielle Beurteaux is a New York–based writer who covers business, technology, and philanthropy. Her work has appeared in The New York Times and on Popular Mechanics, CNN, and Institutional Investor's Alpha, among other outlets.