7 Steps to Effectively and Securely Onboard and Offboard Employees




Sani was here when you got here and is ready to leave amicably for greener pastures after nearly a decade of influential time on the job. At the same time, you’re ready to onboard new hire Aleksandr to fill Sani’s role, but this is the first time you’ve been in charge of the full onboard/offboard process, and there are a few questions you have lingering.  


No, we can’t read your mind, we’ve just done this kind of thing once or twice before and know the ins and outs of how to handle personnel shifts with ease.  


In this blog, we’ll cover a number of important best practices for onboarding and offboarding employees. This information will aid in how you handle what should, besides learning a new secret handshake and losing your favorite meal from the company potluck, otherwise be a regular, painless process for your team 


Best Practices for Onboarding Employees  

Do you remember your first day at your current job? How about your first day of college? Any first day will do – it was probably overwhelming, good or bad, and while you had a ton of questions, they were likely mostly unanswered. The good news is if you’re reading this, you’re in a position of power to change the way your organization onboards its people.  


The biggest single barrier that afflicts teams when bringing new members into their team is often as simple as a negative mindset. No matter how many employees a company can onboard at once – or how often onboarding happens – there are a few things every business can take and apply to their overall welcoming process. 


Email Breach Blog Graphics (6)


1. Create an Effective Process 

Only around 12% of employees think their organization did a great job onboarding, and about a third said the process was informal, inconsistent, or reactive to situations. Half of all businesses focus on processes and paperwork, something Sapling HR says is contrary to the best practices on onboarding programs, which are structured and strategic. To prevent this kind of lag, proactive businesses have taken to identifying, appointing, and communicating to the team who the dedicated onboarding liaison is. 


Effective processes include actionable items that fit whatever it is your new team members will need to do when they start. Rather than days, or weeks, of boring forms and tours of the parking garage’s best stairwells, make it a point to connect with incoming team members to generate trust and respect before they ever enter the building. This includes fully updating and patching all of the technology that will be necessary for your new hire to hit the ground running. 


2. Build Strong Relationships 

With so many workers telecommuting today, every office has its own challenges to establishing relationships between employees, especially when they don’t interact on a daily basis. To build a broad network of solid relationships and combat the lack of spontaneous small talk, encourage your new hires and their teammates to set up a mix of formal conversations covering rules, responsibilities, and business objectives, and a shorter informal chat off campus to get to know the team. There are few replacements for 1:1 meetings, no matter if they’re digital or in person. 


3. Live and Breathe Company Culture 

From the first time a new hire interacts with your organization as a prospective employee they are constantly taking in your company culture. And as different as businesses can be, even in the same industry in the same town, expressing your DNA in everything you do is important to the overall acceptance of expectations from your team. Explicit guidance around norms like your organization’s tone and level of formality, dress code, virtual etiquette on videoconferences, messaging norms, and working hours can all be helpful to the newcomers as a way to better integrate themselves into your team. Don’t leave new employees to guess at these things! 


4. Set Clear Goals and Expectations 

Just like setting the tone with your company culture, it’s important new hires are well aware of their daily, monthly, or other goals and expectations in line with their work. Whether it’s a 10-day integration plan or a 100-day performance evaluation, these kinds of communications should be clear and concise. This clear set of responsibilities is critical to helping a new employee prioritize work that creates a strong foundation and momentum for the individual’s future success. Over the long term having clarity from the start will generate the momentum from which the individual can more readily contribute. 


Best Practices for Offboarding Employees  

Negative team changes are never fun, especially when you need to terminate an employee. But no matter the reason they’re leaving, like Sani heading to a new organization “the right way” after years of dedicated work, offboarding employees can be difficult and lead to dangerous security consequences if handled improperly.  


As Security Intelligence says, recent waves of resignations have created bottlenecks in the offboarding system, overwhelming IT and security teams charged with the backend process. In many cases, offboarding means carefully reviewing all the identity and access privileges associated with the employee, terminating or adjusting permissions where appropriate, and properly preserving sensitive data. If the employee was a part of a team, the company may need to ensure that the team still has access to that data or application. 


We all know turnover is a part of the game, but it doesn’t have to be such a headache. Here are some of the best ways to ensure losing an employee, like Sani, doesn’t mean your team ends up scrambling for any reason. 


1. Keep Everything Standard and Open 

Gossip travels, and backroom handshakes with departing employees don’t often end well. Whether the employee is leaving on their own or is being asked to go, you’ll want to inform everyone on your team about the departure. Any final paperwork – like non-disclosure agreements, benefits and tax documents, final payroll, and any feedback requested – should be presented and finalized by HR while your IT network administrator is notified to begin their offboarding process. 


2. Update Permissions and Exchanging Knowledge 

The most obvious necessary step for employees leaving your team is to collect all of their valuable hardware while adjusting all of their software permissions. To avoid disruption, create a list of tasks and knowledge from the leaving team member that must be obtained by the organization. Will they do any replacement training? Do backups of email accounts/documents need to be performed by IT? How else does IT need to de-provision access to email accounts, company databases, shared drives, and software/SaaS tools? Each of these touchpoints is a potential security breach, and being thorough here means minimizing your exposure.  


Using Microsoft 365? Here are a couple of additional tips for you! 


Keep Your Licenses As Is – For Now

One option is to keep the user's license intact and simply change their password so the employee can no longer access the account. In most cases, this isn’t an ideal solution as the team still pays for an unused license, however, this kind of response requires very little effort. This is usually best for short-term scenarios with lots of moving parts. 


Turn Their Old Email Into a Shared Mailbox + Migrate Their Files 

The most common solution we recommend to our clients is to turn the email into a shared mailbox. This process allows you access to the departing team member’s email after the initial 30 days post-shutoff have elapsed, and if the data is under 50GB, you won’t need an assigned license at all. 


Once the account is converted to a shared mailbox, IT can add additional users to the mailbox to access the emails as needed. It’s best to add only essential team members since as this account is technically still a working mailbox. Emails can still come in, be replied to, and appear from that contact – oh, and information can still be deleted! 


For even more info on how to securely offboard an employee from M365, click here.



3. Continually Build Trust to Avoid Data Breaches 

No matter what they’ve done or how they’re exiting, it’s critical to treat employees with the same respect on the way out as you did on the way in. While working through the other processes with your departing employee, some businesses have found it effective continually build trust with departing team members, even as they leave. For many, this means printing out a copy of the employment agreement they signed on day one and giving it to them as a reference. This serves as a reminder for the exiting team member and allows them to ask any questions they may have – and reminds them of the important reasons why they should respect your organization after they leave. 


Whether you’re welcoming new addition Aleksandr or bidding Sani a fond farewell, your process for onboarding and offboarding should take on a sleek, structured, and similar approach. Creating a positive environment, in either case, means high levels of communication and relationship building, in each case leading to more secure connections in the literal and figurative sense.  


To learn more about how your team can avoid effectively and securely onboard and offboard employees, give us a call at (864) 552-1291 and we'll help you evaluate capabilities and options. Also, sign up for PTG Tech Talk and consider following us on LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter!


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