Should Your Organization Offer Outplacement Services?

employees discussing outplacement processes

Redundancy and outplacement are things most people don’t love discussing But, in these unfortunate cases, there are ways of supporting your current and former employees. One of these ways is by offering outplacement services.

In this article, we answer the pressing questions about the value of outplacement services to your organization. Should you offer them? We’ll help you find out. 

What Is Outplacement?

Outplacement services are typically offered to employees exiting the company by providing one-on-one sessions, group coaching sessions, or multiple sessions offered over time. In this case, an organization is usually the one to decide what will be offered.

Can You Offer Outplacement Services Internally?

Your organization can decide whether to offer outplacement internally (i.e. an employee of your company who specializes in this area will provide it), or by contracting outplacement services to an external organization.

What Do Studies Say About Outplacement Services?

According to Personnel Today, a survey of more than a thousand HR professionals in the UK revealed that employees want organizations to offer a career transition service to staff who have been made redundant and view it as critical to helping the employee move on successfully.

Perkbox also says that "employees who are offered outplacement services by their company statistically resettle 50% faster than those who are not offered the service.”

What Do Outplacement Services Typically Include?

Outplacement services provide advice, guidance and support to help employees find a new job. This might include helping them navigate the job market, prepare or rewrite their CV, prepare for interviews, use networking to find ‘hidden’ jobs or even training to help them improve negotiation skills for future roles.

It can also help employees focus positively on the change, improve their wellbeing, and perhaps even find an ideal job they might not have considered in the past.

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Do Organizations Have To Offer Outplacement Services?

While your organization isn’t legally obliged to provide an outplacement service, a redundancy support program (whether compulsory or voluntary redundancy) shows that you value your workforce and care about their emotional wellbeing.

After all, showing that you are sensitive to employees needs can also help reduce the negative effect that making redundancies will have on your remaining employees’ productivity and job satisfaction.

Why Are Outplacement Services Necessary?

Throughout 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has unfortunately forced many companies in the UK to lay off employees, despite financial payments being provided by the government through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

But, while downsizing and redundancies can strike fear in the hearts of the most secure employees, organizations can do a lot more to help their employees go through the emotional stresses and strains, by offering an outplacement service.

Is Outplacement Just For People Being Made Redundant?

In short, no. It’s important to note that outplacement services can also be offered to those who are retiring, leaving to start their own business, or even just people who are moving on for whatever reason. As we discuss in the employee brand section, later, offering good outplacement services can actually be a good thing for your company – particularly if it helps employees leave on better terms with you, as they are more likely to be or remaining your brand advocates in future.

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What Are The Key Reasons To Offer Outplacement?

Redundancy measures will take an emotional toll on employees: Both those leaving the company, and those who are left behind.

This emotional upheaval leads to a loss of productivity, reduces their commitment to the company, negatively affects job satisfaction, and can create negative perceptions of the employer brand.

Let’s face it, no-one wants to know that their company isn’t doing well, or that they have to let people go. That’s why it’s important to offer good outplacement services, if you can afford them.

A strong outplacement program is more likely to help the redundant employee feel less angry and resentful about being made unemployed.

When handled well, an outplacement service can help them participate in a smoother handover internally and experience a much-needed boost in their self-confidence and self-esteem after redundancy.

What Are Common Outplacement Services?

Some common outplacement services include:

  • Time off for the employee to search for jobs or attend interviews

  • A professional CV writing service

  • Advice or training on how to prepare for job interviews

  • Advice on how to navigate the current job market

  • Skills assessments – to show what employees are really good at

  • Advice on how to network at events, or where to find relevant events to attend,

  • Training on how to negotiate for pay

  • Career guidance, especially for those who have been out of the workforce for a long time

  • A free helpline number for employees to talk about any issues affecting them – including emotional and mental health issues

  • Help with financial advice and pay entitlements

  • Extra face-to-face meetings to talk through the process

If your organization isn’t able to provide redundancy support services, direct your employees to the UK government’s Jobcentre Plus Rapid Response Service for information and help with:

  • Benefits and entitlements

  • Writing CVs and finding jobs

  • Costs associated with childcare, travel and

  • Vocational training (note: this is only relevant if the employee is still within their notice period).

You might also find this resource helpful: Acas provides a step by step guide to managing staff redundancies which includes information on how to support your staff and plan for the future.

How Does Outplacement Affect Your Employer Brand?

Offering some type of social support or redundancy support package will reflect positively on your employer brand, because it shows your organization cares. Creating an employer brand that focuses on employee wellbeing attracts talent, improves existing employee commitment and brand value.

Not offering any support to employees who are leaving can have a negative impact on those who are still with the company. Don’t forget that redundancies also affect the managers tasked with breaking the redundancy news, or those who sat in the meetings. When considering how to support staff who are leaving, it’s also worth putting plans in place to let remaining employees know that they’re valued and safe.

How Does Your Company Offer Outplacement Support?

Redundancy support can be offered in-house or through a third-party service. When choosing the appropriate option for your business, consider both the direct and indirect costs.

Offering the outplacement service through your HR department means you have more control on how it’s introduced and monitored. The return on your investment might be quicker, and it’s cheaper to run the service over the long term. However, trust issues between the employee and their employer might impede its progress and effectiveness. Employees using the service might be reluctant to talk openly about their concerns to colleagues, which negates some of the value of offering outplacement in the first place. This means they may not benefit from the emotional support that an unbiased third party can offer.

Hiring a third party means giving up control of the process to another organization. Externals may provide bespoke services, or only provide a one-size-fits-all program. An external service provider will probably also cost more. However, employees might be more open to sharing their problems with an objective party outside your organization.

How Do You Build An Outplacement Program?

If your organization decides to create an outplacement program in-house, here are some factors to consider:

Firstly, be aware of the laws which affect the redundancy process, and ensure you comply with all relevant redundancy legislations. As part of building an outplacement program, you’ll also need to consider at what point in the redundancy process the employee will need be informed of their legal obligations and redundancy entitlements.

Audit your current process

When building an outplacement program it’s worth looking at the employee support documents or resources you have already produced. For example, you may already have some form of redundancy support or social support process for employees in place such as mental health-related training or even career progression advice webinars. Review these resources and check what needs to be added, removed or supplemented. For example, you might be able to offer face-to-face meetings with HR internally, but might choose to get an external organisation to provide a CV writing service or a free helpline number.

When you undertake the audit it’s also important to include every person who will be a part of the process, including employees’ line managers and members of the HR department.

Understand and evaluate the outplacement process

Once you know what current processes and resources you have, pull together all the elements you can provide to help support employees who are leaving the business. You will probably also need to create new services – or outsource some – to make it a fully useful package.

Then you should create a comprehensive plan that combines all the elements such as:

Implement the outplacement plan

Lastly, decide on who will be in charge of communicating these steps. This is the final step in building an in-house outplacement service. The key to running a successful redundancy support program is to include all your stakeholders, get all their feedback and keep improving it until it’s customised to your organization’s needs.

Keep improving

Although, hopefully, you won’t have to go through redundancy processes very often, it’s important to collect data at relevant points for ongoing evaluation through forms or online feedback because outplacement can be used for any employee’s departure. If you can learn what you do well (or badly) when an employee decides to leave it can help improve the departure experience (and your brand association) for other employees in future.

How Do You Choose An External Outplacement Provider?

If your organization decides to choose a third party to provide outplacement services, here are some factors to consider:

  • What type of redundancy support services do they provide?

  • What costs are associated with hiring a service provider and is it worth it? (Consider both the short- and long-term costs.)

  • Is the program tailored to your employees or do they offer generic support services only?

  • How will data and feedback be collected and communicated to your organization?

  • How many sessions will the employee get? Will it be online, or face-to-face, or a combination of both?

  • Do they offer outplacement support to all industries or are they a niche provider?

  • Check the level of employees to be made redundant and the type of support your organization needs e.g. blue collar vs senior management.

  • Their selection process for matching coaches and employees.

  • Does their service provide the right tools and strategies for today’s job market?

  • What does the outplacement program include at every level? Is it clear on what’s expected? For example, does it provide personalized sessions, practical workshops, and an online portal for the employee to access in their time?

All Your Documents, Right at Your Fingertips

Lastly, don’t forget that it’s much easier to know what resources you already have available to support your employees, and to document their leaving processes, when you are using an HR information system to keep track of all employee-related matters.

HR document management software like Personio can make it far easier to create processes, produce documents, and ensure these are signed, tracked and stored for the right amount of time.

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