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Maintaining Great Employer Branding Through A Positive Offboarding Process

Published on October 29, 2021 by Sharon Morrisette

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All home care agencies need to stay on their toes to actively engage and retain their talented employees in a highly competitive market.

Numerous techniques can help your agency to stand out against the competition to achieve these goals and gain the reputation as a great home care agency to work for, including:

For further tips and techniques on creating an effective caregiver retention strategy, you can read our Caregiver Retention blog here.

By constantly refining and improving your ‘great employer’ branding (and attracting and retaining top talent), your home care agency will be in a strong position to provide high-quality care and ensure patient/client satisfaction – all impacting your bottom line.

However, despite your best efforts at staying up-to-date with employee engagement, motivation, and retention, some employees are inevitably going to leave. In many cases, this will likely be due to factors beyond your control, such as employees requiring a higher salary, promotion, or a change in location that your agency simply cannot accommodate. 

When faced with an employee opting to leave your agency, it is very important to consider the long game. The conditions surrounding an employee’s departure will affect how they feel about their whole employment experience with your home care agency, potentially impacting your branding and reputation in the home care market.

As part of your ‘great employer’ branding, you need to ensure that any employees who leave your agency do so with a positive overall impression. Remember, it is likely that you and these employees will cross paths again in the future. Maintaining a good relationship can make or break future referrals, collaborations, and other important business outcomes.

One way to guarantee any employees leave with a favorable overall impression of your agency is to create a positive offboarding process.

Why a positive offboarding process matters

Why a positive offboarding process matters

Offboarding is the process during which an employee parts ways with their home care agency and colleagues, ideally in a straightforward and stress-free way.

Most home care agency owners understand and accept the importance of first-rate onboarding, which can improve new hire retention by up to 82%. Unfortunately, offboarding is often not given the same priority and can end up being a hastily put-together affair.

According to Sales Benchmark Index (SBI), eight times more time and effort is spent developing, implementing, and administering onboarding programs than offboarding programs.

Ultimately, having a great onboarding process, positive employee experiences, and building a reputation as a great employer in home care, can all be a waste of time and money if your offboarding experience is poor.

Smart home care agencies know that it makes good business sense to follow the whole life cycle of their employees – and that includes creating a robust offboarding process.

A smooth, friendly, and efficient offboarding process is essential for many reasons, including:

  • maintaining ‘great employer’ branding
  • establishing a network of former employees who are ambassadors of your agency brand
  • supporting employees who choose to leave, leaving the door open for them to return if things don’t work out
  • gathering data (via exit interviews) which can provide valuable insights into patterns and trends in your agency’s culture, processes, morale, and strengths and weaknesses
  • helping current employees remain motivated and engaged despite co-workers’ departures
  • avoiding financial errors (for example, during 2011-2021 the University of Wisconsin overpaid $15.4 million in health insurance premiums. More than half of that sum was paid in error to workers who no longer worked at the university!)
  • preventing security risks or data breaches (terminating access to internal company networks and records via desktop and mobile devices, deactivating company keycards, etc.)
  • ensuring compliance and avoiding legal action – a fragmented offboarding system could leave your agency open to the threat of lawsuits. In some cases where this has occurred, employees did not have a solid case but knew the company didn’t have a decent audit trail with which to defend itself.

There can be significant consequences to your agency if your offboarding process is not airtight.

Since offboarding is the final interaction a departing employee may have with your home care agency, how they are treated – good or bad – during that process will remain at the front of their minds. Therefore, it is essential to make a great last impression!

Employee offboarding checklist

offboarding process

We’ve put together a simple employee offboarding checklist to help your agency offboard efficiently and with good grace.

1. Communicate the change promptly

When an employee decides to move on, it’s important to communicate the change across your agency as soon as possible.

The longer you delay sharing the news, the more likely it is that other employees will hear from less reliable sources and start filling in the gaps for themselves, leading to the spread of misinformation.

A simple email or text message will do, in which you can give basic details and wish the departing employee well. If necessary, you can always share more information once it becomes available.

2. Facilitate the transfer of skills and knowledge

When an employee leaves, they are going to take their skills and agency knowledge with them.

It is essential to record this knowledge somewhere and ensure it is transferred so that their replacement and co-workers are not left high and dry. This could be written documentation or via audio/video files. Depending on the notice period, the departing employee can also work alongside colleagues and/or their successor to train them in any essential skills needed.

Questions you can ask departing employees to facilitate this include:

  • Can you give clear, step-by-step instructions of your daily work routine?
  • Are there any work tasks that you repeat on a weekly/monthly/quarterly basis? What are they, how do you do them, and what resources are needed?
  • What files/systems does your successor need to know about and have access to? Is any specific training required for these?
  • Who in your list of regular contacts should be informed about the transition – both inside and outside the agency?
  • Are there any systems/processes that your successor is likely to need training on?
  • Which tasks take priority in your role?

3. Prepare a checklist for HR

Any effective offboarding process will involve a lot of paperwork, which is necessary to protect both the employee and your agency in the event of any legal issues.

An electronic checklist is ideal to ensure the process is standardized for everyone and nothing gets missed. Items on the list may include:

  • Obtaining the letter of resignation
  • Providing written acceptance of the resignation letter
  • Booking the exit interview
  • Entering employee termination details into the HR database
  • Processing any outstanding employee expenses reimbursement
  • Determining whether the employee has any accrued leave they haven’t yet taken
  • Processing benefits documents (e.g. explanation of ongoing benefits, retirement plan transfer, continued health coverage, etc.)
  • Informing payroll and IT of the upcoming changes to activate the necessary processes
  • If appropriate, informing the company insurance provider and changing the worker’s status in the HRIS.
  • Providing the employee with their own offboarding checklist.

We recommend using a management system, such as Smartcare software, to store copies of all employee paperwork and checklists, to keep all documentation in one place for easy access. When an employee leaves, you can then print out physical copies of your offboarding documents, or the employee can log in to the system to sign electronically.

4. Prepare a checklist for the departing employee

Providing an electronic employee offboarding checklist can also be helpful as a part of the offboarding process. It may include items such as:

  • Settling any petty cash advances or other unsettled accounts
  • Ensuring all critical records/documentation is labeled and organized for their successor
  • Removing personal items from the office, agency car, employee lockers, etc.
  • Returning keycards, keys, company credit cards, parking permits, agency equipment, etc.
  • Returning agency-issued mobile devices
  • Providing new contact details to stay in touch.

Again, much of this can be automated if you use the right home care software, such as Smartcare’s home care package.

5. Recover any company assets

On a practical note, it is essential to ensure that the departing employee returns all agency property before leaving. An electronic checklist can also be helpful for this part of the employee offboarding process. Items typically issued to employees include keycards, agency ID badges, parking permits, mobile devices, laptops, care equipment, and uniforms. Account for all these items before an employee’s final departure.

In addition to physical assets, the list should include access rights to your agency’s software and systems to protect network security. This includes email and internal platforms, social media accounts, databases, sales dashboards, etc.

You should also close out any company credit cards or expense accounts in that employee’s name and process any fees or reimbursements due.

6. Carry out an exit interview

It’s common for many home care agencies to view exit interviews as a time-consuming formality. Still, they can provide valuable insights into your agency’s patterns and trends, work culture, processes, morale, and strengths and weaknesses.

They can also be helpful to gain information about how competitive your agency is with other agency-pay packages, vacation time, benefits, etc. – and an easy way to find out who is poaching your top talent!

Common exit interview questions to include in the offboarding process include:

  • When did you start looking for a new job? And why?
  • How did this job compare to your original expectations?
  • How was the onboarding process when you first joined us?
  • Have you had the resources and support needed to do your job well? If not, how do we need to improve?
  • How would you rate the culture of our agency? Can it be improved?
  • Would you recommend our agency to job-seeking friends? Why/why not?
  • Is there anything we could have done/said to persuade you to stay?
  • How was your relationship with your manager/schedulers/others?
  • What do you consider the biggest thing we could do to improve?

As managers can sometimes be a source of conflict, you may consider having a neutral third party present at the exit interview, such as an HR manager, to make the employee feel more relaxed – and hopefully more open and honest.

It is vital to reassure employees that their responses during the exit interview will remain confidential (or anonymous) and that any issues they bring up will be investigated. It may be helpful to create exit surveys that can be completed anonymously and not tied to employee records.

7. Celebrate the next chapter

In addition to the formalities of offboarding, it is also essential to express your gratitude and heartfelt appreciation for the departing employee’s services to your agency and teams.

Just as a great first impression can positively impact how employees feel about your agency, a happy final impression will remain with them long after their last day.

Here are some ideas to ensure a positive send-off:

  • Buy or make a card that everyone can sign with their thanks and best wishes for the future
  • Where appropriate, throw a farewell party over lunch/dinner/afternoon tea (and pay for it!) – this can work equally well via Zoom, if the team is working remotely
  • Buy a personalized gift that you know they will love or something specific to remind them of their time with your agency
  • Write a personalized thank you, acknowledging their specific contributions and career highlights to date
  • Give a short speech to help them reflect on what they’ve learned and how much they have grown within your agency
  • Follow up with them after a few weeks via phone call, email, or text to see how they are getting on and show your support.

8. Leave the door open for a return

Nowadays, with caregiver turnover being so high and home care agencies constantly searching for top talent, hiring ‘boomerang employees’ is no longer taboo! A WorkplaceTrends.com survey found that 76% of HR professionals are now more open to rehiring former employees than before.

It makes good business sense to take steps to leave the door open for a departing employee’s return.

First, ensure all their contact details are up-to-date in your recruiting system.

Second, consider establishing an alumni network of former employees through LinkedIn or a formal alumni management system. You can invite employees to join the network when they leave your agency and use it as a channel to share company news, get feedback on your agency, ask about referrals for job openings, etc.

You just never know when the perfect job opening will align with that ex-employee wanting to return.

However well your home care agency manages employee engagement, motivation, and retention, some employees will leave through no fault on your part. A lot has been written about the importance of employee onboarding, while employee offboarding is often neglected – despite being equally essential for home care agencies invested in ‘great employer’ branding.

Setting up a standardized process and documenting employee offboarding properly ensures compliance with various regulations and can prevent costly errors.

There are plenty of offboarding tools and software to help your agency to create a well-structured offboarding process. Automating the process with workflow software is probably the best way to ensure consistency and completeness across the offboarding process and meet your agency’s specific needs.

Smartcare Software can help you set up and manage a standard, comprehensive offboarding process that ensures all security risks are addressed and that an audit trail of each employee’s exit is created in every case. To find out more, please get in touch with us today.