No one looks forward to the day you get the call stating you are “being let go” or the “company is restructuring”. Outplacement is meant to be a support program many former employees rely on to ease their transition to a new job — it should reflect the concept of a ‘duty of care’ by the employer to the employee.
Unfortunately, as restructuring has become more common place within organisations, it appears the ‘duty of care’ concept has become a little blurred — which is surprising given all the talk about the importance organisations place upon their reputation and being an ‘employer of choice’.
These days, we sometimes see organisations offering outplacement support to merely ‘tick the box’. Little encouragement is provided to the employee to use the service, it purely gives the employer the ability to argue they offered the service. But in this scenario, where is the ‘duty of care’ to ensure the employee receives the support they need to make a successful transition?
Here are 5 ways employers have the potential to get outplacement wrong.
1. Less individualised services
In the past, most outplaced employees had the opportunity to work with a consultant in-person and received one-to-one support to address their specific transition challenges. The employee actively engaged with the program and was assisted in making a successful transition. Today it is quite common for employees to be offered group outplacement, typically in a CBD location, where the consultant addresses the key points of a job search in a way that’s general enough to include everyone, but isn’t very beneficial to specific individuals. It may ‘tick the box’, but it doesn’t deliver on the ‘duty of care’ requirement or reflect the workplace as being an ‘employer of choice’.
2. Undervaluing what outplacement actually delivers
Many only associate outplacement with a simple resumé template and an introduction to a recruitment agency. I’m not sure where that simplistic view arose from, but allow me to clarify; good outplacement is much more complex, and therefore it should:
- rebuild confidence in the employee
- allow employees to discover their skills and achievements
- assist employees in building the confidence to tell a new employer what it is they can bring to the new organisation, and
- provide the employee with the confidence to make a successful transition.
In addition, good outplacement should challenge the thinking of the employee. The easiest transition in the world is to a similar job in a similar organisation; but will it make them happy? Good outplacement provides the employee with the opportunity to explore different career options with an independent career professional. How many employees are aware of their transferable skills and the potential career pathways available to them? Outplacement is an opportunity for the employee to open their mind to new career opportunities.
This is the ‘duty of care’ you should look to provide to your employees.
3. Offering only online seminars
Some organisations will promote outplacement programs that omit the human component altogether. Today, any credible outplacement provider will have an online program to support the one-to-one program. The resources available in these programs are very good, but should never be seen as an alternative to the one-to-one support. Virtual programs do little to engage the employee and assist them in successfully managing the change process. I often think, if I was the employer instructing my employees that a virtual program would offer the level of support necessary to manage change, could I honestly say I was providing an appropriate ‘duty of care’?
4. Delaying outplacement services
An ex-employee with nothing but time on their hands and an axe to grind can use social media to broadcast their views on the way a redundancy was managed. This not only trashes the employers reputation, but can have a serious impact on potential and remaining employees. It is important to be proactive about arranging next-day appointments to help employees get back on their feet. Having an outplacement consultant on site to meet with employees immediately after they receive their notice can be beneficial. An experienced outplacement professional will be supportive during this stressful time and will assist the employee in identifying the immediate next steps to take.
5. Expanding only networking and interviewing skills
Most open positions are filled through referrals and internal movement. In addition, in a world where good talent is scarce, receiving a warm introduction to an organisation can make a big difference in opening up new opportunities. Knowing how to build relationships with key stakeholders and communicate your value is of the utmost importance. It’s extremely valuable to maintain a professional online presence and to incorporate online activity into your job search. These critical interpersonal and modern job seeking skills are not delivered so well in a virtual or group outplacement session.
Turn your outplacement wrongs into rights
Outplacement services need to offer a variety of career transition programs that are designed to meet a wide range of organisational and individual needs. Experience indicates that one-to-one outplacement delivers higher employee engagement and superior outcomes. If you feel you have a ‘duty of care’ and want to be considered as an ‘employer of choice’, you owe your former employees the best chance of making a successful transition.
For more information on how you can implement a successful outplacement program, contact Choice Career services by clicking here. We understand that outplacement is a complex process, so if you feel your organisation would benefit from a direct consultation, you can reach me on +61 3 9326 4884.
This blog was adapted from Clark Jenkins’ original article ‘5 ways to get outplacement wrong’. Clark is the Vice President of Sales for Innovative Career Consulting, the Denver- and Cincinnati-based OI Global Partner firm. Choice Career Services is the sole OI Global Partner firm in Australia and New Zealand.