Why Outplacement? What You and Your Employees Need to Know

Outplacement services should be about more than helping those who are leaving the company to secure new positions. Instead, a holistic, purpose-driven process is one that approaches the situation with compassion and humanity while keeping the lines of communication open for those who will remain with the company. It’s also more than just a kindness; failing to approach outplacement services in a comprehensive, effective manner can leave businesses in jeopardy of tarnishing their employer brand and experiencing a decline in productivity following the event.

More Than Finding a Job

For individuals who have been outplaced from a company, securing a new position is the obvious priority. What’s less obvious, however, is one of the most significant roadblocks to landing that new job: processing the termination, regrouping and taking the first steps toward a productive job search. The emotional impact of being terminated can be staggering. Thoughts can range from the self-doubt that results when a company that knows your work doesn’t find it valuable enough to keep to fears that arise when paychecks — and future plans — are now uncertain.

Outplaced personnel are human beings first and foremost, and human beings are natural storytellers. After being let go from a position, people need to be able to talk about how the separation happened to them, how it felt and what their struggles are. They need to hear from others and work with professionals who are skilled at helping people work these events into their history in a way that does not breed long-term anger, fear and resentment.

The objectives of these activities are simple but significant. This group of people must have an emotionally defused answer to the inevitable interview question asking about their previous employer. Without one, many people are destined to self-sabotage and might not even realize it. Plus, the stories outplaced people tell about their experience will hang around your company’s brand for years. This can either be a positive narrative or a dead weight around the organization’s neck.

Maintaining Productivity Moving Forward

Employees who are fortunate enough to remain with the company are likely to be grateful to avoid enduring being let go themselves. They are also very likely to be worried about having to endure the experience in the near future. Without clear and reassuring communication from all levels of leadership, rumors and speculation will abound, tensions will rise, and employee engagement and morale will be deeply impacted. 

It is critical that this group of employees is given the benefit of transparency, and leadership can do this by acknowledging the restructuring event and discussing the business reasons for the decision. Leadership should expect the first days following an event to be a bit under the mark in terms of productivity. Be prepared for this by not only allowing for employees to have space and time to talk to each other, but also by circulating members of the HR team throughout the office to answer questions and help groups to reorganize effectively.

By delivering purpose-driven outplacement services to those who are leaving, employers are also providing a layer of reassurance for those who must move forward with the company. When talking to their former colleagues, employees will have an opportunity to truly understand that their friends and former associates are well taken care of — something that will help boost loyalty to the company while simultaneously easing fears of another round of layoffs. The result is quickly diminishing effects and a new normal established in a relatively short amount of time.

Employer Branding in the Marketplace

According to one survey, 84 percent of job seekers say the reputation of a company as an employer is significant when choosing where to apply. What’s more, half of all candidates wouldn’t work for a company with a bad reputation, even if it came with a bigger paycheck! Consumers are happy to stand by the workers, too: 64 percent have stopped purchasing a brand after hearing about the poor treatment of the company’s employees. Plus, company efforts to maintain control of the storyline are bound to be futile as one study found employee voices to be three times more credible than the CEO’s when talking about what it’s like working for that company.

Any processes that the company has in place to humanize the treatment of employees will go a long way toward preserving the employer’s brand in the recruitment landscape. When people are choosing which companies to apply to, they will be doing their homework on social media sites and through group discussions on sites like Glassdoor. What will these prospective candidates read about your company? Plus, outplaced individuals are going to land somewhere — with your partners, clients, competitors — and maintaining your reputation will ensure smoother future interactions with outplaced people, whether that is direct or indirect.

Lastly, even for companies that have not experienced a significant outplacement event, having a system in place to provide robust outplacement services shows both current and prospective employees that your company’s mission and stated values have merit. If you’re trying to ensure that the best and the brightest talent find your workplace enticing, moving beyond the excitement of the hiring and onboarding process to address the inevitable end to the partnership shows that you’re not only a forward-thinking employer, but also a compassionate one.

Compassion is Smart Business

The first quarter of 2019 saw layoffs hit their highest level in a decade — 35 percent — and very few companies can avoid a major restructuring or downsizing event forever. When it happens to your company, humanizing the process and providing a genuinely soft landing and a smooth transition is critical for the long-term health of the organization. Not only is it a compassionate endeavor for those whose future with the company was cut short, but purpose-driven outplacement services are imperative to preserve engagement, morale and your company’s brand. It’s smart money, too, as high-quality outplacement services can cut the cost of restructuring by more than half, thereby accelerating the financial goals of these types of restructuring events in the first place.

Learn more about how to deliver purpose-driven outplacement services by downloading our free white paper, Humanizing Your Outplacement Practices.