OFFBOARDING: HOW TO LEAVE AN AGENCY WITHOUT CAUSING DAMAGE – EPISODE 098
On this episode of The Digital Broker, Ryan Deeds and special guests Azia Hurley and Melissa Wilder look at the process of offboarding employees at an insurance agency. By listening to this episode, you will learn:
- What the mood is like at an insurance agency when an employee is leaving, and how it can affect the agency’s workflows and operations.
- Why the offboarding process should be taken just as seriously as the onboarding process.
- What an agency can do to make an employee’s offboarding experience smooth and manageable, for the benefit of the employee, the team, and the customers.
Onboarding and offboarding go hand in hand. When an employee is being onboarded, it is frequently (though not always) to replace someone who was offboarded. This makes onboarding and offboarding something like two sides of the same coin—but you will notice that onboarding gets by far more attention.
It is easy to see why. It’s exciting to think about growth and taking on new employees; it is not as much fun to think about losing them. But change happens. Whether they are retiring or moving from one agency to another, some employees are going to leave their jobs. Typically, this upsets the flow of operations, and if the offboarding experience is unpleasant or misguided, the disruption can be severe and cause damage. To keep this from happening, the offboarding process should be taken just as seriously as the onboarding process.
Things are somber and tense around the office when an employee is leaving an agency, especially if it’s to go work for a rival agency. Principals and owners become paranoid and begin to treat the outgoing employee with suspicion and reservation, as if the employee weren’t feeling miserable already. People usually feel guilty about leaving the team behind; they can also become anxious about the future of their work and who will take over. In the insurance industry, these feelings are even more pronounced, because employees form attachments to the team and to the customers. Put it all together—disconnection from management and desolation among the team—and an employee’s final weeks at an insurance agency can be outright dangerous. When people are defocused and unmotivated, their work suffers, creating a dysfunctional environment. This is bad enough for the employees, but when your agency is dysfunctional, you put your customers’ safety at risk.
You can protect yourself against this by formalizing an offboarding process, like you might formalize an onboarding process. The most important thing is to keep outgoing employees engaged and focused, even if it means making them write out a binder full of instructions for the benefit of successors. If possible, involve the outgoing employee in the process of preparing and training the next person. This is obviously going to benefit the newcomer, and it will also keep the outgoing employee engaged and in better spirits about the future of the position.
It is also a good idea to keep the team engaged as well. Usually, the team depends on each employee in some ways, and vice versa. If an employee leaves abruptly, the team can get lost or confused. Try to get everybody in a room to confront the outgoing employee’s departure. What was the employee working on that remains undone? Who will take over which duties, for the time being?
Remember—people talk. If you make it tough for your employees to leave, they’ll tell other people, and it will affect your agency’s culture and reputation. Likewise, your employees can tell if a colleague is having a tough time leaving, and it will affect their own mood and morale across the rest of the agency. Challenging as it might be, try to make the offboarding process smooth and manageable, for the sake of your customers and also for the sake of your employees, past, present, and future.
Do you have a formalized offboarding process in place? Do you have a story to tell about a particular offboarding experience? We would love to hear about it. Come and find us in the Digital Broker LinkedIn group, where we post updates about episodes and take questions from our listeners. Join us and let’s chat.