Editors Note: Please note this is a guest post written by Andrea Wasser. Her opinions are her own.
Despite the unemployment rate of 5.1% in October last year (the lowest in the past 7 years) and the median forecasted rate of 4.8% for 2016, companies still need to prepare for staff layoffs and terminations.
As organizations strive to get lean, go through mergers and acquisitions, and continue to automate and outsource non-core business operations, downsizing happens in the best of companies. Downsizing has an enormous impact on employees transitioning out, their families’, the organization’s customers and suppliers, the local community, and employees that remain along with the key stakeholders.
Social media has a strong foothold in sharing feedback about company behaviour. Sometimes shared and publicized information is not accurate, but departing employees may be posting their tales of woe based on their perception of how they were treated when they left. This perception most certainly will change if the laid-off employees feel they were supported when they were leaving. In the end it will also impact the quality of an exit interview or the process of termination.
Consider establishing an Outplacement or Transition Program that encompasses “the well-being of employees that are leaving, and those that are staying”. The payoff of having an effective program that improves company morale and minimizes the anxiety of losing a job ultimately reduces the costs of long, drawn-out unemployment periods. A vital and well supported outplacement process can also impact the results of social media coverage that brands an organization as one that cares about it’s employees and their future. This can result in achieving better retention rates, productivity and ultimately attracting top talent in the future.
1. Outplacement services are not only there to help the bigger firms
There are a number of outplacement specialists or firms that can provide services for companies of all sizes and across all industries. Sometimes there are services available through a local or state run Workforce Program that may even be free.
2. Options available for executing an effective program
There are 2 options available that will assist and support your employees during this time of major change.
Option 1: Hire an Outplacement or Transition firm: You can hire an outplacement or transition firm as an independent collaborative partner. These firms can and will minimize the cost and negative impact that cutbacks have.
Ideally your new transition partner will help instate your organization’s ability and mission to offer an equitable separation program and maintain a corporate responsibility to their employees. The outplacement partner needs to be pro-active and trained in effective employee transitioning. A variety of packages should be made available that encompass and range from group seminars on resume writing, to more comprehensive services which include personalized coaching services for interview preparation, job search strategy, networking skills development, personal branding, and the use of social media as a means to establish and determine the most suitable positions.
Option 2: Designate an internal HR Business Partner: This individual could be part of your existing HR, Talent Acquisition, or Human Capital team stepping into a newly established internally Outplacement Services role. The role could be a contract position, or a full-time role, depending on whether or not your organization anticipates more downsizing in their future.
3. Who can actually participate in a transition services program?
All employees that have been terminated or transitioned out of their role should be eligible and offered the opportunity to participate in the provided outplacement services program.
Outplacement professionals that have worked with individuals that have been terminated or transitioned out, note that the shared and most common denominator for employees losing their job was that all of them felt a huge loss. The terminated employees all struggled with issues reflecting self-confidence, betrayal, and anger. They felt that they were unprepared for this situation that ultimately impacted and changed their life. The much-needed support they receive from either an internal or external program can make a huge difference with employees that are leaving as well as for the ones that remain with the company.
4. What exactly is the objective of the transition or outplacement program?
The right partner firms help people by supporting, guiding, identifying and teaching them the necessary skills needed to determine the best direction for that individual’s career and job search. The transition specialist provides the tools to effect changes that should empower them to go forward after losing a job.
A competent and effective outplacement coach will develop an aligned strategy and plan with the individual after a comprehensive analysis is made. They should be determining the most suitable work environments for those individuals’ skills, needs and objectives. The specialist can help with identifying best job choices, scope of work responsibility, company culture and negotiation of compensation packages.
5. What to look for in identifying the best outplacement firm for your organization
The best firms will offer a variety of services and programs to embrace the needs of both the corporation and the individual.
Group workshops and programs are implemented for staff that typically are non-exempt and paid hourly. If there is a mass layoff scheduled then group workshops can be an effective method of support and outreach. The firm or outplacement specialist can be local or nationally based. They will charge defined fees for the services they offer.
A critical component to look for in identifying the best outplacement specialist or firm for your needs is to make sure they will provide time-sensitive follow-up with hands-on, personalized and sensitive attention for each transitioning person. Additionally, they must provide consistent and timely communication with essential feedback to the HR contact or person with direct oversight to the program. This is a critical component in gauging the impact and effectiveness of the executed program. Understanding of employment trends, hiring practices in multiple industries for all company sizes is also essential.
Andrea Wasser is a Global Search Consultant with Executive Search Recruitment experience for mid-large size multinational corporations in North America. She is a specialist in assisting HR departments with critical domestic and international searches, onboarding programs, developing and writing job descriptions, as well as providing Outplacement Services.