How Onboarding and Offboarding Can Reduce Risk and Employee Turnover

by Granville Triumph

Whether you choose to call it the Great Resignation, the Great Renegotiation or another buzzword, there is no denying the fact that turnover has been historically high during the past two years. According to reporting by Forbes, employee turnover costs American businesses $1 trillion, while “every voluntary exit is equivalent to one-half to two times that person’s annual compensation package for that employee.”

To make matters worse, employee onboarding and offboarding processes are frequently slow and disorganized, costing the organization more time and resources. Part of the problem is a general lack of understanding of what onboarding and offboarding are and why they’re important.

What Is Onboarding?

Onboarding is the process of integrating a newly hired employee into the organization. This involves educating the employee about the organization’s structure, culture, mission, values and operational procedures. Effective onboarding not only helps the employee be productive and effective in a shorter period of time, but it can also improve employee engagement and reduce turnover. 

Onboarding is not the same as orientation. Orientation focuses on how the organization functions. It involves walking the employee through routine tasks and basic details required to get started, such as paperwork, user credentials, health and safety procedures, and introductions to coworkers. 

Ultimately, orientation is just one part of onboarding. Organizations that stop at orientation and fail to document and execute a formal onboarding process are more likely to struggle with poor production, a dissatisfied workforce and low employee retention rates.

What Is Offboarding?

Just like you need a process for integrating new employees, you need a process for exiting employees. Offboarding focuses on procedures involved with an employee who resigns, is terminated, retires or reaches the end of a contract. 

Not all employee exits have to be unpleasant. The right offboarding process can focus on celebration and mutual gratitude for those who are retiring or leaving for better opportunities. For those who are not leaving on the best of terms, the right offboarding process can at least make the exit more amicable and less risky for the organization in terms of preserving trade secrets and protecting sensitive data.

How Cybersecurity Fits into the Equation

Data breaches and compliance violations are just as likely to be caused by errors and accidents as intentional abuse of network privileges. Social engineering attacks, mishandled data, misconfigurations and poor password practices continue to be top causes of data breaches.

Organizations can build a stronger cybersecurity culture and capitalize on the motivation and attentiveness of new employees by making security awareness training a central focus of onboarding. Similarly, organizations can dramatically reduce risk by following offboarding best practices and executing a formal process at the precise moment an employee’s exit is confirmed.

In addition to preparing standard paperwork and transferring responsibilities, make sure any company-issued equipment is returned, including computers, mobile devices, keys and ID cards. Immediately revoke access to network systems, company email and applications, especially IT environments where sensitive data is stored.

The Final Analysis

Finally, conduct exit interviews with employees, including those who are not leaving voluntarily. The feedback you receive is likely to be blunt and genuine, which can help you increase employee retention and improve as an organization.

High turnover will continue to be a challenge for a variety of reasons in the immediate future. By reevaluating, updating and documenting your onboarding and offboarding processes, you can set up new employees to succeed, reduce the number of unpleasant exits and build a stronger organizational culture.

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