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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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  • 3
    I've not come across onboarding before today. Do you have a link that provides a definition? 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. 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
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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.

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

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  • 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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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.

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  • Like many of the other contributors to this question I'd never come across "onboarding". However I now understand it to mean the process of bringing a new employee or associate 'on board' the organisation. Although the term derives from boarding a ship there's a lot of non-nautical stuff associated with joining a company including setting them up on the HR and payroll systems, much more than "disembarking". "Offboarding" as the opposite of "onboarding" would include deactivating those records. If you call the joining process "onboarding" then "offboarding" for the opposite process seems fine.
    – BoldBen
    Nov 8 '20 at 14:30

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