The importance of ensuring seamless employee transitions
- 6 Min Read
Discover the role benefit providers play in offboarding employees to reinforce a culture of care and responsibility.
Offboarding, often relegated to a mere afterthought in the HR playbook, is a goldmine of untapped potential. This is not just about exit interviews or final pay checks – it is about crafting a legacy in the minds of those who are moving on.
“People inevitably leave, but they will have friendships and relationships with employees that will likely continue long after they have left the business,” says Katie Cook, head of consumer healthcare at Mercer Marsh Benefits.
“Helping an employee to feel positive about the time they spent employed, regardless of the reason they are leaving, speaks volumes to those left behind.”
Departures, whether due to retirement, redundancy, or personal pursuits, demand a well-structured and thoughtful offboarding process. This not only supports those leaving but also reinforces a company’s culture, reputation, and strengthens its alumni network.
“Having the right off-boarding policies shows employees that the company they work for truly takes care of them and doesn’t purely focus on the well-being of those being recruited or retained,” says Cook.
Tailored strategies for varied exits
Businesses naturally experience employee attrition due to reasons such as retirement; career progression, where individuals move on to better opportunities or different career paths; and life changes like relocation, family commitments, or health issues that necessitate a change in employment.
Developing clear communication plans tailored to different departure reasons is crucial for HR teams. Furthermore, HR leaders must develop distinct strategies for various exit scenarios. For instance, in redundancy situations, providing support in job searching and skill development can be invaluable.
Meanwhile, for those pursuing personal goals, offering networking opportunities and references can aid in their future endeavors .
“If there is someone leaving the business, and the organization would have rather they had stayed, a good offboarding process could be the difference between them coming back or not,” says Cook.
There are instances where employees feel they need a change. “The grass isn’t always greener,” Cook says, noting employees can always return if they feel they have had a good experience.
In stark contrast to most exit scenarios is that of the retiree. For someone looking at retirement, it may be essential to take a long view and slowly decrease the work they are taking on.
“Often people get to retirement having worked 40-hour weeks for the last 40-50 years of their life. They will have formed all kinds of friendships during that time and waking up one day having given that up and having no schedule, can be quite daunting,” Cook says.
Effective communication goes beyond mere notifications. It encompasses clear paperwork and guidelines for those leaving on what they can expect during the process.
Employers should inform employees about their last payday, remaining holiday entitlements, options for using or getting paid for unused holidays, and the termination date of their insurance benefits.
Retirement has traditionally been seen as an ‘all or nothing’ cliff edge where work stops and retirement begins. In recent years we have seen trends of people leaving employment and taking their pension – often before they can access their full benefits – and then returning to some form of employment to supplement their pension income.
Nowadays, and increasingly in the future, staff are facing a later retirement age before they can access their pension benefits, and many are concerned that they will not be able to continue working in the same way to a later age.
Cook says businesses should start sooner rather than later when it comes to informing employees about their pensions.
Utilising pension decision services, who can explain the various options that might be available to somebody who’s looking to retire in the near future, are really valuable assets, she notes.
“Often people don’t really understand what the options with their pension might be, or the most tax efficient way to access it.
Many studies over recent years have shown that workers have several motives for extending their working life, including:
- financial need, benefits to health and vitality from the physical activity involved in working particularly from maintaining routines and obligations.
- increased psychological wellbeing by maintaining professional identities and meeting challenges.
- continuing personal development.
- continuing social affirmation and friendships at work.
The importance of benefit discussions
Many organisations offer private medical insurance, making its management during offboarding a key concern. The timely transition of this coverage, especially for those with ongoing treatments or pre-existing conditions, is essential.
For employees moving to a new employer, joining a new scheme might be an option. However, for those wishing to retain their existing plan, understanding the options available through their current employer is crucial.
“If you want to purchase a policy for yourself when you leave, there’s only a very short window often to apply for a new policy,” Cook explains. “If you don’t know exactly when your policy ends, that could be a bit of a challenge.”
Some health insurance plans provided by employers do not allow employees to continue the same insurance coverage after they leave the company. This could be because these plans are not designed for individual customers (outside of a company setting) or because they are not standard insurance policies but rather something like a trust.
Therefore, insurance brokers need to explain to their clients (the employers) the different options available for employees when they leave the company.
Cook says employers who want to be seen as caring and responsible should think about this when they are deciding which insurance company to use for their employees’ health insurance.
Best in practice
Assisting employees in understanding and managing their health insurance options as they leave a company can provide a smooth and positive end to their career there.
Cook shared an example of an elderly couple helped by Mercer Marsh Benefits. The wife, undergoing cancer treatment, needed chemotherapy at home due to Covid risks. Their employer-provided health insurance was about to end, and they were worried about the high cost of private treatment and the risks of hospital treatment.
Cook’s team helped them find a new insurance policy that allowed the wife to continue her chemotherapy at home, easing their fears and financial burden at a critical time.
Modern companies are now recognising the importance of providing holistic and comprehensive health benefits, including options for continued care even after employment ends.
This approach not only caters to the immediate and long-term health needs of employees but also positions the employer as a responsible and caring entity in the eyes of current and potential talent.
By embracing trends such as offering flexible health options, emphasising mental health support, and educating employees about their benefits, employers can foster a more supportive and sustainable workplace environment both during and after employment.
This evolution in employee support is not just a reflection of corporate responsibility, but a strategic approach to building a resilient, satisfied, and productive workforce.
Mercer Marsh Benefits is a trading name used by Mercer Limited who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Firm Reference Number 121935). Mercer Limited is registered in England and Wales (Registration Number 984275). Registered Office: 1 Tower Place West, Tower Place, London, EC3R 5BU.