A layoff can be devastating. For an employee, it’s not just lost income, it’s losing an identity and community of colleagues. Worrying about the logical next step can feel overwhelming.
Letting workers go is an unpleasant experience for managers, too. However, you can take steps to make layoffs as positive an experience as possible. Termination with dignity should always include outplacement services to help workers take a step forward in the next chapter of their careers.
In this guide, we’ll start with the basics — what is outplacement? — and then do a deeper dive into why you should offer it to employees and how best to encourage those employees to make the most of the service.
What is outplacement and why should companies invest in it?
Outplacement services provide assistance to employees in finding new work. Services can include things like resume reviews, job search advice, interview training, personalized coaching, and career assessments.
Why should you invest in helping people who are no longer your employees? It’s about more than just your outgoing employees. It’s also about your company’s reputation and brand, and the employees who remain.
It’s the right thing to do for employees
Outplacement provides a focus for employees who are shell-shocked by a layoff. Whether you’ve warned your staff that a major layoff is coming or not, the finality of that last day and the uncertainty of at least temporary unemployment is a shock to a person’s psyche. By providing them immediate outplacement services, you are giving them a lifeline in that sea of uncertainty, something tangible to focus on that will give real value, right away. More on that:
- Outplacement services empower laid-off employees to move on faster to the next stage in their professional lives. You give them the tools to define their passions, direct their next steps, and become hired again typically sooner than if outplacement was not provided.
- Outplacement coaching is invaluable, especially for people who have been out of the job market for a while. If you’re in the position of laying off longtime employees, it’s more than likely they’re not up on the latest job search trends, don’t know the importance of LinkedIn, have never heard of Glassdoor, and have no idea how to structure their time in transition.
- Outplacement speeds up the job search process and good outplacement also supports those with more difficult transitions. It’s vital to support those with more challenging searches, not just the people who land the fastest. For instance, changing industries can be difficult and time consuming. Longer duration outplacement plans are a great thing. And since more progressive outplacement solutions, like GetFive, have untethered their plans from real estate, longer duration doesn’t need to mean out of the budget.
- No cost to employees. When people lose their jobs, reduced income is a main concern. Fortunately, outplacement services are complimentary to employees. Employers pay for these services.
- Providing structure is important. Getting your resume out is not the first step of a smart job search. Those that take the time to assess their direction and create a robust list of targets are going to be in better shape.
- Resume and profile coaching. Finding the voice of your resume is a lot easier when there is clarity on your targets.. If it’s been awhile since your employees have been in the job market, outplacement coaches can help create documents that highlight the appropriate skills in a modern, professional format and speak directly to the opportunities.
- Interview preparation. Interviewing for a new job can be nerve-racking. Outplacement coaches help people prepare by going over answers to common and difficult questions and software can help you shave off a few “ums, likes and ye knows”.
- Career insight. Losing a job might be the impetus for career change. If people want to shift focus, outplacement services are able to help them learn more about their talents and passions so they can confidently choose the right career path.
- Networking advice. Everyone knows networking is a key component of getting a new job, but how exactly do you do it? Outplacement services offer guidance, embracing the most effective networking strategies.
- Positive reinforcement. Losing your job can make people feel anxious. A job search that drags out can make them feel depressed. Outplacement services are like having a best friend who is always there as a sounding board to help people vent concerns and then give you a boost of positive feedback so you can keep your eye on the prize.
Outplacement is good for YOUR business
A strong employer brand is critical to attracting the best talent, and in this job market, it means more than ever. By ensuring that your exiting employees are immediately focusing on their careers, rather than their frustrations at being let go, you’ll substantially reduce the adverse impact on your social reputation. How? Today, disgruntled employees who are upset about a layoff aren’t just complaining to friends and family. They’re posting on social media, ripping you on Glassdoor, and doing tangible damage to your employer brand in the process. And make no mistake about it, when you’re trying to attract top talent, those bad reviews and comments on social media matter. Our surveys show that the right approach to outplacement reduces reputational fallout significantly.
It creates security for survivors and preserves the culture
It’s not just about the employees you’re laying off. It’s about the ones who remain, too. Layoffs cause a lot of anxiety among survivors who wonder if they’re next. Knowing their colleagues got help finding new jobs does a lot to calm those fears. And it creates loyalty, too, when they see you doing right by their friends and colleagues.
When advanced notice is possible, allow exiting employees to begin using outplacement services while still at their jobs — the period when they’re at their most marketable. They are far better prepared to hit the ground running when their employment ends and more likely to remain willing ambassadors of their previous employer’s brand, endorsing their company online and among their peers, or at least standing neutral. Many scenarios don’t allow for this. But, there is always room for high-touch handling of offboarding in these sensitive situations.
Expert advice from GetFive for job seekers:
Now that you’ve decided to invest in outplacement, it’s important to help guide employees in getting the most out of the service. Here’s some advice to give your outgoing employees for maximizing the benefit of outplacement you’re providing for them:
- Pretend you’re spending your own money. You want to use as much of your outplacement package as you can, so pretend that you bought it. Organizations like GetFive provide flexible services, where your allocation of coaching can be used even after you land a new position, for things like onboarding success. If you land a new job and aren’t satisfied, your coach or small group can still help you resolve any problems or even find a new job. Take advantage of this opportunity to develop your career in the right direction.
- Keep in touch with your private coach. Think of your coach as a trusted, knowledgeable friend. Your coach can help you with everything from writing your resume and cover letter to negotiating salary and turning interviews into offers. Many people choose to keep in touch with their coaches for years. The better your coach knows you, the more he or she can help you in the months and years ahead.
- Take advantage of peer group sessions. Getting to know people in a similar situation can be both fun and informative. At GetFive, small groups focus on strategic thinking. You’ll have a chance to present your situation to the entire group and have everyone help you in your search. Our research proves that those who regularly attend a small group get jobs faster and at higher rates of pay than those who only work with their private coach.
- Find a job search partner. Ask your coach to match you up with one or more job search partners. You can talk to your job search partner frequently to discuss your job search methods or if you simply need encouragement before an interview. Of course, you can always call your coach, but you’ll feel better knowing there’s a peer-level partner who relates to what you’re going through.
Finding the right outplacement partner
In part, the right outplacement partner depends on you. Some organizations offer outplacement to check a box. Their focus is chiefly on the cost and they don’t mind when their exiting employees don’t use the service. For those organizations, there are a number of low-cost and virtual coaching options.
Conversely, a growing number of organizations recognize the compelling ROI as it relates to employer brand preservation. If your reputation interferes with your ability to recruit the best talent in your field, you have a problem that is an order of magnitude bigger than incurring the modest cost of outplacement. For these companies, the decision process is a little more complicated. For instance, the effectiveness of the outplacement partner in terms of reaching out, connecting and engaging with exiting employees becomes an important factor.
The right outplacement partner will provide personalized services at a great value. Ask about the ratio of participants to coaches. Coaching is only useful if you can gain access to your coach. Ask how coaches are selected and trained. Ask about the process for matching coaches and ensuring compatibility. Ask if face-to-face meetings are possible. If you want your exiting employees to connect and build a rapport with their outplacement coach, a face-to-face meeting can be important.
Ask about the vendor’s commitment to innovation and ask about the role that technology plays in their solution. The increasing role of software in outplacement solutions is a noteworthy trend of late.
Outplacement participants learn differently. Some learn best by reading – others are more visual. Find out about all of the ways that participants can access content, whether it is workshops, small group meetings, on-demand videos, etc.
And not to be forgotten is the methodology. Ask if there is a specific methodology and if so, what it is about. How does it evolve? What are the proof points of its effectiveness? How are that vendor’s coaches able to stay current with the method and with coaching and coaching technology in general?
Finally, you should consider accountability. Find out how the vendor will keep you abreast of participant progress. How is activity tracked? What does the sponsor view look like?
At the end of the day, there is a lot to consider. It may make sense to establish pilot programs with a few promising firms. There is no need to sign an agreement with exclusivity, even if you intend to use just one vendor. Make your outplacement partner earn your business every day.
Questions? We’re happy to talk about this valuable service, and why you should offer it to your outgoing employees. Contact us at GetFive to learn more.