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Employee Exit and Offboarding Checklist (Sample Included)

September 25, 2018 by Josh Hrala

Employees exit organizations all of the time for various reasons. Whether it’s a layoff event, a RIF, retirement, or just because they found a new role elsewhere, HR must be prepared with an employee exit and offboarding checklist that allows them to process employees quickly and efficiently no matter what the reason is.

So, to that end, what do you need to include on your employee exit and offboarding checklist to make sure you are prepared for any situation?

That’s exactly what we will cover here today. Before we start, here is a brief overview of what a typical checklist looks like:

  • Communication documents
  • Knowledge transfer plans
  • Company property collection
  • Internal systems updating
  • Interviews and questionnaires

If you want to download our sample employee exit and offboarding checklist, click here:

Employee Exit and Offboarding Checklist

Okay, let’s dive into each of these items.

Employee Exit and Offboarding Checklist: Communication Is Key

Anytime there is a transition happening at your organization, HR needs to communicate what is going on to a variety of different people.

For example, if there is a layoff event, HR needs to announce the event to those impacted with a layoff letter or memo. Then, they need to communicate the move to employees who are retained during the event while also holding a layoff meeting. We also recommend holding an additional meeting after the event to make sure that your retained staff knows what to expect going forward.

That’s a lot!

But in other situations, communication can be a lot easier. For example, if a single person is leaving the organization on their own accord, you may only alert their teammates (who probably already know but you have to alert them just to be safe because their jobs are impacted by the exit).

Either way, you will have to look at what type of exit the employee is making and react accordingly. This is why it’s the first thing on the checklist.

We won’t go into detail about how to communicate for every event, though we have covered some of the more stressful exiting events in great detail. You can read all about layoff communication here. Or download are starter sample below:

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On your checklist, you should have a spot to remind yourself of what type of communication you need to use given whatever type of exit the employee is making. Then, follow your internal policies to ensure that you communicate properly.

Communication is vital for HR because it keeps your entire workforce on the same page. The last thing you want during a layoff or RIF is to have rumors flying all around about what’s going on. Act accordingly and set the record straight from the start. Don’t try to hide things because in many situations it makes everything worse.

Employee Exit and Offboarding Checklist: Knowledge Transfer

Knowledge transfer is a huge deal for organizations, especially when it comes to senior staff members who have worked at the business for an extended period of time.

These employees have gathered a ton of information about how to perform their role at the organization, and it is vital that you retain that knowledge so that the business can keep marching into the future without any hiccups.

Knowledge transfer is when an exiting staff members imparts their skills and training onto their replacement (or team) so that the business doesn’t take a productivity hit during a transition.

These activities typically happen when someone resigns or retires because it allows a period of time before the exit is fully made to help transition them out. For workers who are moving on to a new role or quitting for some other reason, this period is typically two weeks long.

For retirees, the process can take even longer. In fact, some retirees step down from their roles and become consultants for a while afterward, allowing the organization to transition properly while also helping the retiree through their retirement process.

Again, this all depends on what employee is exiting the organization and how they are making that exit. If someone is fired or laid off (know the difference between the two!), you may not have time to perform knowledge transfer tasks.

On your checklist, ensure that you mark knowledge transfer second because in some situations it is extremely important. Based on what and how the exit is working – if it’s voluntary or involuntary – and what role the person plays, will inform you on what knowledge transfer measures to take if any.

Employee Exit and Offboarding Checklist: Gather Company Property

For the first time on this checklist, this section applies to anyone leaving your organization despite how or why they are exiting.

No matter what, you will need to collect company property. This can include:

  • Cellphones
  • Laptops and other devices
  • Specialized equipment (if applicable)
  • Company cars
  • Credit cards
  • Keys
  • Badges
  • And more

This list is obviously different depending on the organization. Some businesses may not have much to collect at all while others – especially those in tech-driven fields – may have a whole plethora of different objects to get back from the employee.

We recommend writing down and keeping track of everything that is loaned to employees during their tenure to help make this process easier. Not to mention that keeping an eye on what devices, key cards, and things of that nature you have is just a good business practice to get into.

When an employee makes an exit, you should have this list ready to go so that you can mark off what is returned.

Employee Exit and Offboarding Checklist: Update Internal Systems

After the exit is fully made, you need to be sure to update all of the internal systems you use to reflect the new changes.

This can include removing the employee’s access to digital systems (a task that will be headed up by your IT team), such as email, Slack access, and proprietary systems if applicable.

You need to ensure that you have a process in place for these activities, especially since digital tools and platforms are becoming increasingly apart of our daily lives. In today’s world, digital access is akin to a badge or key-card in many ways.

Next – or while that is happening on the IT side of things, you need to update your org chart and directory to reflect the exit(s) while also processing any final payments that go out to the employee. Depending on the type of exit, this may include a severance payment and outplacement onboarding paperwork.

While many of these tasks fall on to other departments, you need to follow up and make sure that they are all completed so that you can finalize the exit on your end.

Depending your organization, this can be either a quick or lengthy process, which we recommend you have all figured out before the exit takes place so that you can handle it properly in the moment.

After this, you are finally onto the last part of the process: interviews.

Employee Exit and Offboarding Checklist: Interviews

Again, depending on what type of exit the employee is making, you will want to hold an exit interview or provide a questionnaire for the employee to fill out.


Because exit interviews are a great way to get a glimpse into what is happening inside your organization. When a person is actively working for you, they may not feel comfortable enough to come to you with problems (though you should always make them feel like they can come to you for anything).

So, when they are exiting, they may open up and provide you with details into what is happening in their department or team, allowing you to fix issues that have gone unchecked until now. It is reported that exit interviews save companies billions of dollars despite the fact that many companies do not even perform them.

Not all exit interviews or questionnaires kick up dirt, though. You may hear good news that the person really liked their role and their manager, which you can award.

The point is to understand what’s going on on the ground to get a better sense of how everything is working. By ignoring the employee’s final words, you can seriously hinder progress.

Also, like we said a minute ago, exit interviews are ignored by most businesses (in fact, most companies do not even have a formal offboarding process on paper), meaning that if you take the time and energy to perform them you will be at a competitive advantage.

Employee Exit and Offboarding Checklist: The Takeaways

When it comes to offboarding, you need to make sure you have a plan in place for whatever event you are dealing with.

Our sample employee exit and offboarding checklist will go over the big things we’ve talked about here. However, given that each organization is different, you will need to update it to include the various things that pertain to your specific business.

In the end, having a formal offboarding policy is a huge competitive advantage that can seriously give your organization a boost over the competition.

Want to download our employee exit and offboarding checklist? Click below:

Employee Exit and Offboarding Checklist

Josh Hrala

Josh Hrala

Josh is an HR journalist and ghostwriter who's been covering outplacement and offboarding for over six years. Before pivoting to the HR world, he was a science journalist whose work can be found in Popular Science, ScienceAlert, The Huffington Post, Cracked, Modern Notion, and more.

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