Why an outplacement guide?
I remember like it was yesterday … I left my boss’s office numb. She had just told me that our plant was about to shut down in 2 weeks. In 1986, GE had hired and moved me to Singapore to help with the consolidation of its numerous manufacturing operations there.
On that day, a little over a year later, I had 3 tough options: find another job in Singapore in the next 2 weeks, find a new country where I would be permitted to work, or go home to be drafted into a bloody, senseless war. I will come back in a bit to how this personal story has inspired our mission and philosophy.
In this outplacement guide, we will address 3 key questions:
- why a company benefits from providing outplacement services to employees that are being laid off
- what should be included in the outplacement services
- how to choose a partner that can successfully implement the program so that you mitigate risks, save money, and protect your brand as a socially responsible enterprise
Why Would We Contract for Outplacement?
Over the past decade, some companies have used layoffs as an aggressive tool to project improved financial performance. Wharton, MIT, SHRM, and Harvard Business Review have examined the negative consequences of these engineered layoffs.
This outplacement guide is not about that. Instead, we’ll cover how providing good care of departing employees even when a business is struggling can bring huge payoffs for an employer.
Sometimes, despite everyone’s best efforts, someone—perhaps many people—have to be let go for the survival of the company. As a result of the COVID-19-related economic downturn, this is a stressful situation that many HR executives are staring down right now or may be soon.
In this outplacement guide, I will share one of the most effective ways to compensate for the key negative impacts of layoffs on a company: contracting outplacement services.
As human resource professionals and business owners, you and we are all too familiar with the impacts of layoffs. The biggest concern is the elevated risk of litigation—or even violence—by disgruntled former employees with nothing more to lose. Your unemployment tax expenses will also increase as long as your former employees remain unemployed.
Then there is the impact on employee morale. Employee performance will drop if the employees left behind are grieving for the dire straits of their former colleagues and angry at how the company treated them. Then come the nasty reviews and drops in Glassdoor ratings.
The company’s brand could be impacted by these risks, leading to potential loss of revenue and increased difficulty in making future hires.
This outplacement guide recommends that contracting with a top-rated company for outplacement services enables you to offer departing employees a lifeline for getting a new job. This minimizes the potential for litigation, reduces your tax costs, and protects your brand.
Whether they are at the staff, professional, management, or C-level, your departing staff should be treated with care. Ensuring that they are well equipped to rapidly transition to a new job is the purpose of the smart strategy of contracting for outplacement services.
When separated employees are fully supported to find a great new job fast, your legal and security risks are minimized, and your brand as a socially responsible company is strengthened. What’s more, your employee loyalty and productivity are maintained, and your customers remain loyal.
In the next section of this outplacement guide you will learn how to gain these benefits by carefully selecting what to offer your terminated employees.
What Should We Offer Terminated Employees?
While it sounds counter-intuitive, investing in the professional well-being of separated employees can have significant ROI for a company. Even if the company is folding, a small investment in outplacement is a wonderful gift to reward your loyal staff that can also mitigate any risk to the owners.
So, what are some of the proven, most effective ways covered in this outplacement guide to implement your outplacement strategy?
Let’s start with how not to do outplacement. When departing employees get cookie-cutter approaches heavily reliant on self-service portals, most will not get the help they need to get into a new job fast. As a result, they remain on your unemployment rolls. Investment in an outplacement service that offers as little as 15% 1 to 1 coaching may fool the media, but your CFO will not be pleased.
Many outplacement services maintain only 40% retention in their programs. If that happens, you will face high costs for unemployment insurance. You’ll also experience the effects of disillusionment by former and current employees who may feel bad about themselves and you. After investing the money, you might still come away with negative word of mouth and media coverage— another punch in the stomach of your brand.
The right way to offer outplacement is to engage a highly rated company that combines easy-to-use portal technology with the 5 Ps of successful career transition: purpose, planning, preparation, practice, and perseverance. You’ll want this program to be sustained by professional, strategic, and caring coaching that engages the separated employee in a realistic, self-paced action plan. Departing staff need to participate in the creation of this plan they commit to implement and be competently counselled and cheered along the way.
This approach will a) lift their morale, b) restore their self-confidence, and c) ensure that they will give everything they have to expedite their re-employment. And when they feel good about themselves, you can expect them to feel good about the company that took care of them.
Consider also that most outplacement firms assist with resume preparation, but the value of the resumes they write varies widely. Many use students or offshore labor to lower their costs instead of professional, highly trained resume writers and editors. And in an employers’ market (high unemployment), your former employees will need top resumes to compete.
Where do you find a program that combines competent, caring career coaching with rarefied resume writing services? And when should you contract for outplacement services?
In the next section of this outplacement guide, I will answer these questions as well as share a unique option that can not only save you more money but also make you more profitable even before employee separation.
How to Choose Your Outplacement Company?
Obviously, the career needs and consequently the career management plans for staff, management, and C-level executives are very different. But all these groups share a common need for dignity and self-respect.
Where and how you can find an outplacement firm that meets your criteria for competent, caring career coaching and rarefied resume writing services? And can they ensure the rapid re-employment of your separated employees?
The truth is that you will not find the class of service that reduces your costs the most and protects your brand the best among traditional, mass production outplacement firms. That’s because in prosperous times, a traditional outplacement firm cannot afford to sustain the level of specialized personnel it needs to support a downturn. And such a firm cannot suddenly and rapidly ramp up after 10 years. It won’t have the highly trained professional career coaches and resume writers needed to cater to a large group of separated employees.
As a result, the “career coaches” and resume writers you would find in such firms might be struggling American life coaches and writers from India or the Philippines. After all, career success specialists do not grow on trees.
Where do you find the truly qualified coaches, resume writers, and resume editors that can ensure the rapid employment of your separated staff? At smaller career coaching and resume writing services firms. Some operate at a level that can provide outstanding customer service, client relationship management, globally available infrastructure, and proven outplacement success.
YES Career Coaching & Resume Writing Services, a small, local, highly rated, woman-owned business is such a firm. With over a dozen customizable programs tested through the thin and thick of economic upheavals, YES uses only U.S. citizen resume writers and highly experienced career coaches. The YES team is well trained and equipped to cater to the needs of your management team, as well as provide the care and attention individual your separated employees need.
YES is the DC metro area’s top-rated career success company on Google, Angie’s List, and the Better Business Bureau. The employees it has served have, on median/average, gotten a new job in 8 weeks at 14% higher pay after interviewing with 5 organizations and being contacted by 12 recruiters. Half even got 2 offers to choose from!
Outplacement Benefit as a Competitive Strategy
Let me also share with you about an optional innovation by YES: career advancement programs for professionals and executives long before a reduction in force (RIF) becomes necessary.
With our cost-effective coaching services, you will accomplish two things: First, career advancement programs lead to increased productivity and engagement by employees, more than paying for themselves. Second, if and when a RIF is needed, the individual will be far more prepared to take on the challenge, potentially reducing their search time by 3–4 months. That’s money in your pocket from unemployment tax savings!
Finally, when should you contract for outplacement services? This outplacement guide recommends that you’ll want to get them in place long before you need to lay off a tranche of people. That way, you can road test your contracted company with individuals who need to be separated. And you can put outplacement services in the contracts you offer to sweeten the deal for highly sought talent.
Circling back to my story … Rather than throwing me in the street, GE helped me find my next job—all the way in the United States. I gladly accepted, worked for GE again, and fully benefitted from their legendary career advancement opportunities. Over the past 30+ years, I have been loyal to GE products. (In fact, I became a fanatic .) Also, I must have retold this story of how GE took care of its employee to hundreds of people—and now hopefully to thousands of readers.
No matter what happens this year, we wish you all that goodwill by your employees. To determine the most effective, customized program for your company, please schedule your free consultation or call YES at 202-740-3032. You will come away from your consultation with a strategy that you will choose to minimize your risks, reduce your costs, and attract and retain the best talent.
Outplacement Vendor Checklist
The following table can be used as a checklist in your vendor selection process.
Familiar with the local economy and its top industries
Rating & Reputation
High ratings on all review sites and a good reputation in the marketplace
Extensive experience helping employees get a new job
Ability to Scale
Ability to quickly scale enough highly skilled personnel to support your laid-off employees
History & Performance
Years-long history with metrics on company performance
Proven history of tailoring services to specific employee needs
Resume & Cover Letter
Resume and cover letters written by certified, native American English resume writers
Expertise in developing search-engine optimized LinkedIn profiles and guiding employees on how to use LinkedIn to get a job
Expertise in modern interview coaching for in person, online, and video interviews
Coaching tailored to individuals’ personality traits to improve outcomes
Professional certified coaches to support employees from staff to C-level
Career strategy coaching workshops offered, in addition to one-to-one live coaching
Effective library of online resources to support individuals’ search campaigns
Online web portal to enable employees to interact with resume writers and coaches from anywhere and access job search resources
Secure web access to protect employees’ private information
Online dashboard to ensure employees receive all the services to which they are entitled
Comprehensive and customizable reporting for the employers to track employee performance and measure outcomes