Advantages to Offering Outplacement Support
With the continued rash of downsizings and reorganizations, many employees have increasingly found themselves on the receiving end of the “pink slip,” and many are accepting (albeit reluctantly) the fact; but also the hopeful expectation that the organization will provide some form of job search assistance. Companies have discovered, both for ethical and hard business reasons, that offering Outplacementis a smart investment.
A growing number of organizations have discovered that it pays to help terminated employees through the ordeal of finding a new job. Not only can Outplacement be of significant economic benefit in keeping severance costs in check, it can generate loyalty and high morale among remaining employees, while earning the organizationn a benevolent public image.
Companies generally perceive a greater obligation, traditionally, to assist higher level executives with Outplacement, since these individuals are more likely to have made a more visible contribution to the firm’s success during their employment. However, research also indicates that providing some level of Outplacement assistance to non-exempts can prevent, or shorten, termination costs and potential litigation.
Outplacement packages offered usually entail resume preparation, interview and negotiating training, and ongoing support from a professional Outplacement Coach. For senior and executive level managers, the program may also include psychological and career assessment as well as administrative support. “Reality discussions” are also included, covering issues such as, “What do I really want to do? What skills do I have? Should I consider going into business for myself?”
Studies show that Outplacement does help people find new jobs faster than they would on their own. And that means direct savings for employers who continue insurance and other benefits for extended periods. Services, such as Outplacement, that help employees reassess their skills and examine careers in new fields, and get them up-to-speed in their job search. It restores confidence and gives people a structure and a process. If they were doing it on their own, it would take many months (even up to year or more in today’s economy); professional Outplacement counseling often does it in half that time.
Is this an expense to the organization? Absolutely. But as one major employer has stated, “We feel as an employer, we have a responsibility to the employee. During reorganization and(subsequent) job eliminations, it’s essential not to lose sight of the human element. It you treat people fairly, they’ll help you pack the boxes.”
A BrewingCo., for example, reported, “The program had a positive effect on employees who were not affected by the downsizing. These employees, who were very much aware of how the affected employees were being treated, now perceive us as more than just a good place to work. They see us as a company with a genuine concern for its employees (at all levels.)”
In other words, the argument goes, you’re not paying for Outplacement services just to be nice to the people you’re terminating. You’re paying to improve (and salvage) your relationship with the people you’re keeping. The survivors are the ones whose goodwill you’re going to need in order to maintain productivity.
Still another rationale is that Outplacement counseling tends to reduce the threat of litigation. If people are talking to an Outplacement counselor, they’re not talking to a lawyer. And those who are offered Outplacement are going to have less of a “get-even attitude” toward their former employer. A good example is a major retailer, when they began extensive downsizing. Initially, they chose not to incur the additional expense of Outplacement. Their thinking was “why would we want to spend more money on people who are leaving the organization.” As a result they ended up by fighting wrongful termination, discrimination, etc. lawsuits for years, costing millions of dollars. The next major downsizing, several years later, this same retailer opted to use Outplacement as part of the termination package. Result: Not one lawsuit !
Aside from maintaining the company’s image among its customers and the community at large, the major contribution of Outplacement is that it supports the ego and dignity of a person who is probably in a state of shock. It’s certainly helpful to have a terrific resume, practice interviewing, and assessment. All those services speed up the process of finding a job; but most importantly is the objectivity and empathetic coaching offered by the Outplacement consultant. Without the latter, the other technical aspects fall flat.
Human beings often need help dealing with change. Companies that use Outplacement services recognize they have the obligation and responsibility to help people live through these changes. A Bank concurs. “As a company, we can’t say that we’ll protect you from change, but we can say we’ll help you live through and deal with change.”
Outplacement can be a “win-win” situation for both the company and the affected employee.