Tis the Season to Make Offboarding Plans for Seasonal Employees

With the economy on the rebound and the holiday season in full gear, companies are relying on temporary workers to help drive their business success. That’s especially true in the retail industry, where the National Retail Federation estimates that the nation’s retailers hired between 700,000 and 750,000 seasonal employees this year to support a predicted 3.7 percent increase in sales.

While some seasonal employees may have opportunities to stay with their employers, the vast majority will typically be gone by mid-January – but not forgotten – especially in today’s hyper-connected environment. In addition to the industry experience, company knowledge and other intellectual property they gained at the company, they also have the power to openly share their opinions about the company in whatever way they choose.

That’s one of many reasons why companies should keep in mind that offboarding – the strategic process for transitioning employees out of the workplace – can be every bit as important to their business success as onboarding.

Ultimately, seasonal employees can either be an advocate or detractor for the company. To ensure the former, companies must understand that offboarding means more than just the logistics of returning keys, badges and computers. It means seizing the opportunity to tap into the power of departing employees and making sure they remain a positive voice for the company.

Although every offboarding program for seasonal employees can – and should – be as unique as the companies that create them, SilkRoad has observed that the most successful ones are defined by the following key characteristics:

Seasonal employees are viewed as “Alumni”

There’s simply no way to predict exactly what’s ahead for seasonal employees. Among other futures, they could become a customer to, a competitor of, or a contractor with the company, or even a returning employee.

Companies must ensure that temporary employees leave with a positive mindset and favorable opinion of the company. This begins with a straightforward directive:  treat them like you’d like to be treated. From there, companies should consider them “alumni” with the power to be champions for the organization in all social and professional forums, rather than thinking of departing workers as merely “temps.”

A systematic process is in place

For seasonal employees, the difference between having a positive or negative offboarding experience often comes down to small details. To ensure that none of them are missed, companies must develop a systematic, enterprise-wide offboarding process that factors in all aspects of:

  • Post-employment payment arrangements
  • Exit interviews (in person or online)
  • Physical property handover
  • Intellectual property handover
  • Non-compete and non-disclosure reminders

For many companies, this process can be complicated and time-consuming. Automation technology can help simplify the process. As companies with successful offboarding programs are increasingly demonstrating, automated employee lifecycle management systems not only increase compliance with administrative issues, but also ease facilitation of networking components.

The bottom line

Just as they are now dedicated to creating a positive onboarding experience for new recruits, companies must also be committed to building and maintaining goodwill among seasonal employees.

Why? Because no one understands a company – its values, its culture and the way it does business – more than people who work there, even if it’s only for a few months. When seasonal employees share that understanding in a positive way, it can only contribute to the success of the company.

As Aberdeen points out, opportunity exists for nearly three out of four (70 percent) of companies to make strides in improving their offboarding initiatives. Effective offboarding programs for temporary workers take time to build. They begin with an understanding of how seasonal employees can be advocates for the company – and as a result, contribute to its ongoing success. With that understanding, companies can plan the strategies – and identify the many milestones that need to be achieved – to ensure this success. While that’s much easier said than done, the introduction of automation can ease the process.

Amber Hyatt, SPHR, is director of product marketing for cloud-based talent management solutions provider SilkRoad. She can be reached at Amber.Hyatt@silkroad.com.

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