A good start is crucial for a good cooperation. Companies pay a lot of attention to the so-called 'onboarding' of their employees. But saying goodbye is just as important. "Former employees are the ambassadors of your company."

At software company AFAS, there is no employee who says goodbye without being put in the spotlight. This way everyone who leaves leaves a special surprise box home. "There is a coffee mug in it, a tissue box with the text 'First aid for homesickness' and a key ring with a picture of the boss," says HR manager Britt Breure.

This is of course funny and thoughtful, but that surprise box was not just invented. "Departing employees are the biggest ambassadors of your company," says Breure. Not unimportant, certainly because many former employees remain active in the AFAS network.

"They often continue to use our products or work for a customer of ours," Breure explains. She adds: "New colleagues often come in via former employees."

Little attention to good farewell

Yet few companies really pay attention to saying goodbye to their employees. Most companies do onboarding, because a good start is crucial for a good working relationship.

"Only now is that attention for offboarding also moving to the Netherlands." Peter Straatsma, CCO Appical

For example, a 2018 study of the Global Culture Report showed that when there is a successful onboarding procedure, employee involvement increases by 70 percent. Saying goodbye in a good way, also known as 'offboarding', is a poor child.

"In the United States and the United Kingdom there has been a focus on offboarding for a number of years," says Peter Straatsma, CCO at Appical, a specialist in onboarding and offboarding. "Only now does this attention also spread to the Netherlands."

Hiring former employees saves money

But saying goodbye to your employees in the right way can result in a lot for you as a company.

"For example, that such a person will return to employment after a few years," writes director David Sturt of the American personnel affairs OC Tanner in an article in the Harvard Business Review . He is an example of this himself. When he left OC Tanner 19 years ago to work at a start-up in Portland, he had no intention of coming back.

"A former employee is already familiar with the culture and the state of affairs within." David Sturt, human resources specialist

But during the farewell lunch with his colleagues, the CEO held a chat in which he explicitly thanked him and emphasized that Sturt was always allowed to return to work. To make it clear that he really meant it, he even added a one-way ticket from Portland to Salt Lake City. "When he offered me a job two and a half years later, the way in which the CEO had said goodbye to me at the time made the difference for me," writes Sturt in the play.

Of course Sturt's boss could also have hired someone else for the position, but that would probably have turned out to be more expensive. "Training a new employee costs you a lot of money as a company," explains Sturt in the article. "A former employee is already familiar with the culture and the state of affairs of the company. This makes the process of incorporation faster and smoother."

Involved until the last day

Incidentally, you are not there with a farewell party or surprise box. "When you say goodbye, you think back to your employer with a warm feeling," says Straatsma. You can achieve this by organizing a drink or dinner for someone, but also by ensuring that someone feels involved until the last working day. For example, by putting someone the last work weeks on an interesting project.

"That way you prevent someone from sitting out a bit in recent weeks." Another way to express appreciation is to actively involve departing employees in training their new colleagues. "Certainly millennials think it is important to properly convey something they have worked hard on," explains Straatsma.

Breure enters into a conversation with every employee who resigns. "I then ask them what exactly they are going to miss about AFAS and what they would like to do differently," she explains. According to Straatsma, it is best to provide that feedback before the employee leaves. "This way employees see that you really do something with it and they feel taken seriously."