Inadequate Offboarding On Leaders

The Emotional and Professional Costs of Inadequate Offboarding on Leaders

In the ever-evolving world of business, corporate strategies need constant reassessment. Among such strategies, the offboarding process — managing the transition of employees out of an organisation — is often relegated to a lower priority. However, for HR leaders and department managers, the way this process is handled can have lasting implications on their emotional well-being, job satisfaction, and overall engagement.

As CXOs, understanding these implications is crucial for both human and operational reasons. Here’s why.

The Emotional and Mental Toll of Inadequate

🛞 Navigating Layoffs without Support

When layoffs become inevitable, managers and HR leaders bear the emotional brunt of these decisions. They’re often the ones who deliver the news and witness first-hand the immediate fallout. A study in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology underscores how those involved in the layoff process often report feelings of guilt, stress, and emotional exhaustion.

The absence of a structured offboarding process exacerbates these feelings, leading to long-term emotional distress.

👩🏻‍💼The EAP Gap

Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) are designed to support employees through challenging times, including layoffs. When organisations lack robust EAPs during offboarding, HR professionals feel the vacuum. They become the default helpline, dealing with the emotional and logistical challenges of departing employees.

This overload can quickly escalate into burnout, as emphasised in an article from the Harvard Business Review.

🔄 The Feedback Loop: The Double-Edged Sword of Exit Interviews

Exit interviews, when conducted without a systematic approach, can become intense sessions of unfiltered feedback. The Journal of Vocational Behavior points out that while these interviews can be sources of invaluable insights, they also expose HR and managers to potential critiques without the shield of structure or purpose.

The emotional fallout can lead to reduced self-worth and even resentment towards the organisation.

💧The Ripple Effect: Job Satisfaction and Engagement

Reduced Trust in Organisational Integrity

When departing employees aren’t given the support they need, it sends a potent message to those left behind, including HR and managerial staff. A report from Gallup sheds light on how the perception of organisational integrity directly impacts employee engagement. Managers and HR leaders, being closer to the process, feel this disconnect intensely.

The lack of outplacement support programs can erode their trust in the company, leading to diminished job satisfaction.

👩🏻‍💻 Increased Job Insecurity

Seeing colleagues laid off without adequate support creates an atmosphere of job insecurity. The Journal of Organisational Behavior underscores that even those not directly affected by layoffs, especially HR and managers privy to company decisions, can experience heightened job insecurity.

This insecurity, in turn, negatively affects engagement, motivation, and productivity.

The Costs of Emotional Labour

💰 Emotional labour – the process of managing one’s emotions to present a specific persona – is inherent in managerial and HR roles. When offboarding is mishandled, these professionals spend more energy
moderating their emotions, leading to increased stress and decreased job satisfaction.

The Academy of Management Journal has published studies indicating that prolonged emotional labour without adequate support structures can result in burnout and reduced organisational commitment.

The Business Case for Structured Offboarding Support

💸 Protecting Human Capital Investment

HR leaders and managers are crucial human capital assets. Their well-being and job satisfaction directly impact organisational efficiency and culture.

By providing well-structured offboarding support, organisations safeguard these assets, ensuring longevity and consistent performance.

📏 Enhanced Organisational Image

The manner in which an organisation handles layoffs is keenly observed by both internal and external stakeholders. A structured offboarding process, complete with EAPs, comprehensive exit interviews, and outplacement support, not only benefits departing employees but also enhances the organisation’s brand image.

According to the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), companies that manage layoffs with dignity and respect see a significant uptick in their employer brand, aiding future recruitment and retention efforts.

A Culture of Trust and Empathy

Layoffs, while tough, are sometimes inevitable. However, the process surrounding them can be within the organisation’s control. A compassionate offboarding process fosters a culture of trust, empathy, and resilience.

Such a culture, as noted by the Institute for Corporate Productivity, directly correlates with better organisational performance and innovation.


Offboarding, particularly in the context of layoffs, is more than a logistical exercise. It’s a process teeming with emotional undertones that directly affect HR leaders and department managers. As CXOs, acknowledging and addressing these implications is not just a human-centric approach but also a business imperative.

In the interplay between operational decisions and human emotions, structured offboarding support emerges as a non-negotiable cornerstone for organisational success.


  • Navigating Layoffs Without Support:
    • Study Finds Layoffs Can Have a Lasting Impact on Mental Health of Employees and Managers (Journal of Occupational Health Psychology)
  • The EAP Gap:
    • HR Leaders Feel the Strain of Layoffs Without Robust EAPs (Harvard Business Review)
  • The Feedback Loop: The Double-Edged Sword of Exit Interviews:
    • Exit Interviews: A Double-Edged Sword (Journal of Vocational Behavior)
  • The Ripple Effect: Job Satisfaction and Engagement:
    • The State of the Global Workplace (Gallup)
  • Increased Job Insecurity:
    • The Impact of Layoffs on Job Insecurity (Journal of Organizational Behavior)
  • The Costs of Emotional Labor:
    • Emotional Labor and Burnout: A Meta-Analysis (Academy of Management Journal)
  • The Business Case for Structured Offboarding Support:
    • The Importance of Offboarding: How to Retain Top Talent and Protect Your Employer Brand (Corporate Executive Board)
    • Offboarding: A Strategic Approach to Building a Culture of Trust (Institute for Corporate Productivity

Do you need help with supporting your employees?

Want to support your employees through restructures and redundancy with effective onboarding, stay interviews, offboarding and outplacement programs? Get in touch with me today to organise a 1-1 call to see how Career365 can support you and your team. Click here for more information.


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