Working Transitions

Outplacement - 4 myths busted

Many organisations think that offering Outplacement support is a ‘nice to do’ rather than a ’must do’. In a challenging business environment, when tough choices have to be made, many employers naturally focus on saving costs if redundancies are in prospect. They argue that if reasonable redundancy packages are being offered and unemployment is low, then why would an employer really need to offer Outplacement support at all?

After 25 years in the industry you might expect that our view would be different. Our evidence of how beneficial this type of service can be to employers is based on feedback from over 1000 organisations and around 750,000 individuals that we’ve worked with during this time. We’re well placed to bust some myths about Outplacement!

MYTH No 1- It’s more important to focus on the people who are remaining

It’s true that in difficult times those who remain must not be ignored. Often, this group, even though they are relieved to find that they still have a job, are very unsettled by seeing colleagues and friends forced to leave the organisation. The realisation too that their own job, and perhaps team, is now much changed and that the work may also be different or more challenging, can lead to long periods of poor productivity and low engagement. The psychological contract - the unwritten set of expectations of the employment relationship in addition to the formal contract of employment – is often damaged during a change process, which can have significant longer term impact on an organisations ability to attract and retain talent.

Companies that provide Outplacement as part of their redundancy support programme often find that it can lower the ‘emotional temperature’ across the organisation. By fully supporting exiting employees, you can demonstrate both to them - and to those who remain - that you value them as individuals and are committed to helping them to move forward quickly and positively.

Periods of change can sometimes result in poor productivity - remaining employees worry about the future of the organisation. For those remaining, it can be reassuring to know that if they ever find themselves in a similar situation, they are likely to receive the same support and consideration in return for their loyalty and contribution to the business. Providing good Outplacement support is one of the best ways to re-engage those who remain.

MYTH No 2- People usually adapt quickly and get on with it.

This may be true for some, but in our experience this will be the minority. Individuals all react differently to change – some employees may be relatively unfazed but for others, particularly long serving employees, redundancy can initially appear catastrophic.

Typically, individuals faced with change undergo a rollercoaster of emotions from anxiety to denial and fear. Providing Outplacement support can help individuals navigate this range of emotions and face the future with renewed focus and positivity. In many cases, change need not be the end but a start of a new, improved journey.

Properly supporting employees as they move through Outplacement demonstrates that, despite the difficult decision taken by their employer, their service is valued and supporting them into their next role, or stage of life, is important to you as an organisation. This has long term implications in protecting employer brand and reputation which should not be underestimated. It’s particularly relevant if you hire specialist skills or recruit from a limited local employee pool.

The human impact of Workplace Transition – in particular Outplacement - is often underestimated by employers but with the growth of social media and online review sites such as Glassdoor it should not be taken lightly - employer reputation is at stake.

MYTH No 3 – The HR team can support people

It’s a fact that very few HR teams are over-staffed. Inevitably during times of change an already challenging workload becomes stretched, sometimes to breaking point. Although many HR teams have skills and knowledge that can support people faced with redundancy, it isn’t their day job to be career coaches and they will have very limited time to offer. In addition, they may be involved in emotional and difficult conversations with impacted employees, so it’s hard to just ‘change hats’ and become their career coach whilst maintaining the credibility and impartiality which is so important at this time.

It’s easy when emotions are running high for mistrust and suspicion about an employer’s motives and actions to take hold. A recent survey conducted by Working Transitions found that 52% of employees felt that their organisation handled the initial stage of their workplace transition, 'Poorly' or ‘Extremely Poorly' with 48% regarding the employer's communication during this period as 'Poor' or 'Very Poor'.

When Outplacement is provided by an independent third-party, coaching sessions and workshops provide a neutral, safe and supportive environment for exiting employees to voice their fears and concerns. Removing internal involvement allows an individual to feel that support is confidential and focused on their future career plan without preconceptions and without the past clouding their plans for the future.

This approach also ensures that the HR team can fully focus on the structural, legal and risk related activities that are so important to get right at this time. Mistakes in these areas can cost a lot more than providing Outplacement support.

MYTH No 4- It’s too expensive and not value for money

Well, we know more than most that unless you choose your provider carefully that can definitely be true! It’s very important to carefully review the options presented to you by suppliers and shop around. One size does not fit all. All Outplacement services should be tailored to organisational budget and individual needs and delivered in a highly flexible way. Real value and protection of employer brand is determined by the satisfaction of each individual with the services provided and the resultant feedback to their colleagues who remain, about how effective it was in helping them move forward after a difficult time. This means that buyers should carefully check provider track record and results with previous clients before committing themselves. You should also ask questions about the account and project management process – if you are paying a provider and you are doing all the work then it will definitely be too expensive. Meet the people who will actually be managing your account before making a decision – the right team will save you money.

Great Outplacement is also about much more than providing a set of online resources, or simply helping people with CVs and interview advice, all of which are relatively straightforward and low cost activities, so beware expensive providers whose sole focus is on these services. It’s unlikely to be real value for money because it won’t provide what most people really need at this time. Our research shows that over 92% of all participants experiencing Outplacement rated their career coach as the most important factor in helping them to achieve their desired outcomes. At this challenging time people value the human touch, it’s a myth that good Outplacement is expensive; in fact a small investment of a just a few hundred pounds can deliver an excellent, value for money result.

Of course costs are always a key consideration when redundancies are planned but thinking through the costs and risks associated with lost productivity, damage to employer reputation and stretch in the HR and line manager teams and the cost-benefit equation become clear.

Summary

Myths abound in every industry but Outplacement is a service that many buyers don’t buy frequently, so it’s perhaps not a surprise that there are so many misperceptions about what exactly it is, what value it brings and what it costs.

In an industry that has itself has gone through enormous change and consolidation over the last few years, we’ve survived – and thrived – for twenty five years because we know how to deliver tangible results and can provide the evidence that all of the above really are myths, provided that you choose the right partner.

An expert led, well-structured outplacement programme can quickly deliver substantial benefits to employees and employers alike – and that’s no myth!

For more information visit our website www.workingtransitions.com or call 01604 744119

 

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Image of four young individuals receiving outplacement advice and support from an older gentleman.
Author
Working Transitions
Date
01 March 2018
Categories
Outplacement
Change
Careers
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