When you have a lengthy process after hiring someone, you call that the "onboarding" process. Is the term "offboarding" correct for a lengthy end-of-contract process? Or what would that be called?

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    I've not come across onboarding before today. Do you have a link that provides a definition? – coleopterist Dec 4 '12 at 15:53
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    I'm tempted to suggest 'jettisoning...' – user867 Dec 5 '12 at 0:45
  • According to the CIA, waterboarding. Used at end of contracts they had with former co-operatives they used to sponsor. – Blessed Geek Nov 6 '13 at 4:40
  • Generally, the most you get when leaving most companies is an "exit interview". Sometimes you may have several -- one with the IT/security folks (to collect your laptop), one with legal (to tell you all the things you can't do), one with your manager (to dispense meaningless platitudes), etc. – Hot Licks Apr 11 '16 at 20:43

The term "offboarding" refers to "Removing a user from an identity management system or downgrading the user's privileges." according to the Free Dictionary. I looked up the term on other websites, and they all concur. New York University even has an article titled "Offboarding Employees" where they discuss what to do when an employee leaves the company.

I hope this answers your question.

  • Googling "hr offboarding" turns up enough hits to suggest it's a recognized term. – Wudang Dec 4 '12 at 15:59
  • Ah, I asked this on behalf of a coworker and it turns out he was convinced it wasn't due to Word's spellcheck recognizing "onboarding" but not "offboarding". Good to know spellcheck is, as usual, incorrect :) – Yamikuronue Dec 4 '12 at 16:01
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    @Yamikuronue, I'm guessing someone had already added "onboarding" to the custom dictionary, but had not done the same for "offboarding". My copy of Word doesn't recognize either one as a single word. – Marthaª Dec 4 '12 at 18:23
  • @Marthaª -yes, I think perhaps as onboarding seems more used and the process referred to as "offboarding" is often buried in a maze of euphemisms. Eg at IBM, we had Career Transition Programs and goodness knows what else. – Wudang Dec 4 '12 at 19:04
  • Google ngram viewer has a steady increase in the word "onboarding" since 1970, but nothing at all for offboarding (a word I have never heard used): books.google.com/ngrams/… – jsj May 14 '18 at 12:20

My organization uses the term "onboarding" and "offboarding". Onboarding I understand as it references the nautical term for boarding onto a ship but offboarding sounds wrong since you disembark from a ship. The term jettison suggested by @coleopterist seems like a reasonable nautical term to use when removing (somewhat forcefully) a person from a ship or organization.


We call our process an "unloading" and/or "offloading". Offboarding doesn't seem correct.

  • The question is about onboarding as used in the human-resources jargon, not as used in other contexts. – jsw29 Aug 11 '18 at 17:01

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