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Career Transition, Outplacement and Mobility

Executives in Transition: Three Top Actions to Take in 2021

Executives in Transition: Three Top Actions to Take in 2021

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Executives in Transition: Three Top Actions to Take in 2021

“A recent LHH-LinkedIn poll found 47 percent of respondent organizations were planning significant overhauls of senior leadership, with six percent predicting a “total overhaul.” Less than one-third of respondents did not anticipate any changes in their executive leadership teams.”

John Morgan, Chief Operating Officer, LHH

Of all the things that Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos has accomplished in his storied career, none may be as important as the orderly retirement he recently announced.

Bezos, 57, had given no sign that he was going to step away from Amazon. The global pandemic and the economic restrictions that came with it helped the world’s largest e-commerce marketplace soar to new heights. 

But there he was in the first few days of February 2021, confirming to the world that he would step down later this year to remain the company’s executive chair, while passing the CEO job to Andy Jassy, head of Amazon Web Services.

An orderly succession without drama, uncertainty and recrimination. Bezos’ retirement was as clean and efficient as a next day delivery via Amazon Prime. If only other companies could replicate this kind of executive transition. 

The year before, a collection of the world’s highest-profile companies lost key leaders from the very top of their hierarchies. Some, like IBM CEO Ginny Rometty and Ford CEO Jim Farley, managed orderly retirements with several months advance warning and their successors already selected.

Others were not so orderly. 

Disney CEO Bob Iger stunned onlookers when he announced in February 2020 he was stepping down immediately from his position. A major reorganization at Disney led to the sudden departure of Hulu CEO Randy Freer. Mandy Ginsberg, CEO of Match (which owns dating apps Tinder and Hinge) resigned her post suddenly because of health concerns. And Jim Murren left his job as CEO of MGM Resorts International with less than a month’s notice and no permanent replacement identified. 

And that was just 2020. All signs indicate that in 2021 we can expect a lot of senior executive departures – some tidy and systematic, others more abrupt and disorganized. 

A recent LHH-LinkedIn poll found 47 percent of respondent organizations were planning significant overhauls of senior leadership, with six percent predicting a “total overhaul.” Less than one-third of respondents did not anticipate any changes in their executive leadership teams. 

Why is it that some leaders and organizations create orderly executive transitions while for others, it’s a hot mess? The fact is, the vast majority of companies experience so few executive transitions, they rarely see the need to build a plan that covers everything from planned retirements to sudden departures due to poor stock performance, burnout or social concerns. 

As Bezos and other CEOs have shown, a comprehensive executive transition plan is an essential part of any organization’s business plan. An orderly succession, even when a sudden transition is required, will help the executive team adjust to new leadership, provide opportunities for knowledge transfer and boost an organization’s overall brand in the eyes of customers, investors and employees. The best executive transition plans need to be tailored to the specific needs of organizations and the executives involved. However, the best practices – transparency, collaboration and support – remain a constant.

Establish your transition team

A pre-existing transition team is the number one priority for any organization that wants to ensure orderly executive departures, whether it is a thoughtful succession or a sudden transition. This is the group that will take care of all aspects of the transition, from negotiations on severance to succession planning and, when required, public relations to help manage external communications.

The transition team should involve, at a minimum, a senior member of the board of directors, the CEO (if not the subject of the transition, the senior-most human resources officer and the company’s general counsel. This is the group that will plan and execute all departures and successions.

Where possible, carefully plan support for the executive in transition

Succession can be a difficult topic to broach with senior executives. Some interpret succession planning as a lack of faith in their performance. Others are simply not interested in leaving and thus put off all talk of planning for a successor.

To mitigate any discomfort or reluctance, the executive in question should be given the opportunity to work with experts who can help them prepare for retirement, if that is the preferred course of action, or plan out a future career path. This type of support helps reduce any feelings of isolation or uncertainty that may come with a decision to leave a senior role.

Set out a deliberate, defined process

For the transition team to fully realize its value, it must have a playbook that clearly identifies the process for an orderly transition, a first point of contact for all negotiations and comprehensive internal and external communications plan. Planning ahead and establishing both a transition team and a playbook will not only help ease the concerns of the executive in question, but also create confidence among customers, investors and employees. 

Executive departures are, by their very nature, disruptive events. However, they do not need to be destructive.

A thoughtful, well-planned approach for re-casting senior leadership can replace ambiguity with certainty and emotion with rational resolve. The best transitions are seamless, with as little confusion and recrimination as possible. They meet the needs of both the individual involved, and the organization. 

A thoughtful, comprehensive transition process established well in advance of any specific departure confirms that the organization involved is caring, well-organized and transparent. That is a win-win-win for any company.

Source: This article was originally published in CEOWorld Magazine on March 12, 2021.

Career Transition, Outplacement and Mobility

Six Questions You Should Ask in an Interview

Six Questions You Should Ask in an Interview

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Six Questions You Should Ask in an Interview

Here are six questions that you can consider asking at the end of the interview to demonstrate that you’re a thoughtful, curious candidate, with a genuine interest in the hiring manager, role and company.

“Do you have any questions for us?” It’s the final question to be asked at just about every interview, but it is still one that can catch people off guard if they are not prepared ahead of time. Even if you’ve aced the rest of the interview, you should always try to ask the people you are hoping will hire you something insightful before you leave the room.

It’s worth keeping in mind that any question that you do put forward won’t just tell you about the company, it can reveal a lot about you as a candidate, too. 

Generally speaking, questions you wish to ask should occur to you throughout the interview, and the question/s you will ask at the end of the interview will allow you to expand on or clarify on key points.

Sometimes though, you might end up stumped, with the interviewer elaborating on all the areas you would normally ask about. This is not a bad thing, but interview subjects often miss the opportunity to find out more about the hiring manager and build a rapport that could strengthen any future relationship if they do not pose a question at the close of the interview.

What you should be asking

With that in mind, here are six questions that you can consider asking at the end of the interview to demonstrate that you’re a thoughtful, curious candidate, with a genuine interest in the hiring manager, role and company:

1. “I would love to learn more about your role – can you share how you started out here?”

Learning about how your interviewer got to where they are now will not only show your interest in the interviewer as an individual, but it will give you a good idea of how the organization works, too.

2. “What is it that you most enjoy about working here?” 

This will give you a much better idea of the company culture and any perks or benefits on offer. Even if it has been touched upon throughout the interview, this is your moment to move beyond prepared lines and get into specifics. 

3. “What sets the company apart from other places you have worked for?”

Everyone has an employment history, and since they know yours this is an opportunity to ask them to share theirs, too. Whether they have more experience in the industry or have worked for different companies to ones you’re familiar with, this is where you can gain a better understanding of what makes your potential employer tick.

4. “How do you see the company evolving over the next 3-5 years?” 

This forward-looking question will show your interest in the bigger picture context of the company and the role, as well as demonstrate your long-term interest in joining the organization. 

5. “How would you define the ideal employee?”

You already know what they’re looking for in a candidate, but it’s always worth expanding on this to find out more about how they would see you fitting into a team and which attributes they feel are most important in their people.

6. “How would you define success for the applicant who wins the role?” 

This is your chance to get deeper insight into what the actual job will look like, with the bonus that you will come across as engaged and vigilant. 

Using variations of these questions won’t just spare everyone the awkward silence that can come at the end of an interview, they will also let you engage directly with the person with whom you are interviewing. 

This personal connection will stimulate interest, allow you to build a rapport with further conversation that goes beyond their prepared notes, and ensures that you stand out from other candidates. Not only that, but these techniques also give you more valuable (and most likely candid) information about the business and the people in it, letting you make a more informed career decision. It’s a win-win situation.

Source: lhh.com

Career Transition, Outplacement and Mobility Change Management

Head into the New Year with a Revitalized Career Plan

Head into the New Year with a Revitalized Career Plan

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Head into the New Year with a Revitalized Career Plan

Revitalize your Career plan: Take stock of where you are now in your career and identify any areas for development, set new goals, and celebrate your successes. This will give you the perspective needed to make sure you’re on the right path and have the information you need to plan out your next steps for the new year.

For your career to flourish, we recommend that you take a step back and conduct a career “checkup”—a self-assessment designed to help you evaluate the progress and achievements you’ve made throughout the year. And now is the perfect time. 

2020 has been one of the most challenging years, requiring many to adapt to significant changes in the workplace, increased stress and anxiety, and economic upheaval. Taking stock of where you are now in your career will help you to identify any areas for development, set new goals for yourself going forward, and celebrate your successes—giving you the perspective you need to make sure you’re on the right path and have the information you need to plan out your next steps.

But what should this career checkup focus on?

The industry and your employer

Before you look at your own skills and abilities, it’s vital to look at the industry you’re in. A bit of light research can tell you how viable your industry is, as well as its projected health. Be sure to seek out thought leadership articles and social media posts from respected industry authorities, as well as more general news pieces.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics website is also an invaluable resource for the latest projections on individual industries. You should also consider the performance of your current employer, and whether they are building a supportive culture that you want to be part of going forward.

Your skills

Giving yourself a skills assessment will help you see progress you’ve made in the year. Take stock of what you’ve learned, and what new skills you’ve picked up since this time last year, but also use your research to gain insight into those talents that will become most valuable in the future. At the same time, you need to consider what you may need to learn to stay ahead of the curve in the face of new trends, such as increased automation.

Taking positive action

A career checkup isn’t all research and soul searching. In fact, there’s positive action that you should take as part of the checkup.

1. Give your resume a refresh

Add new responsibilities, achievements, awards or accreditations should be on your resume, whether you’re thinking of looking for a new role or not. 

Tip: Use the bullets on your resume to highlight your accomplishments. Accomplishments are examples of how you have added value, versus responsibilities you had. Use a strong action verb to start each bullet. Describe the overarching action you took and give quantifiable results you achieved. This will help make your story more memorable and help the reader understand the value you can bring to the role.

2. Spruce up your social media profiles

Social media is one of the first places prospective employers will go to learn more about you when considering you for a role. In fact, 90% of recruiters use LinkedIn as their primary search tool. Update your LinkedIn profile—whether you are actively job seeking or not—to ensure that anyone who visits your profile will get an accurate snapshot of what you offer.

Tip: Update your profile summary and job description, and include facts and figures relating to key deliverables, to build credibility with your audience and make recruiters’ lives easier when assessing your experience. Embed examples of your work (links to awards, videos you are in, links or documents you have created/contributed to) to demonstrate what you have achieved, and ask for recommendations from people you have worked with and for. You can also look for relevant groups and communities to join, where you can seek advice and get noticed by contributing industry discussions.

3. Talk it over

Find a mentor, colleague, or supervisor who you are comfortable discussing your career with and ask for some honest feedback. It’s always good to get a second opinion. Asking them the right questions can help to provide a clear perspective. Questions you can ask to get you started include:

  • What would you say are my most valuable soft skills?
  • Which words would you use to describe my personal style?
  • What would you say I am an expert in?
  • Is there a time you can recall where I delivered something that impressed you? 

Tip: Use the answers from these questions to validate what you already know about your own qualities and experience and add new insights you gain to your resume and LinkedIn profile.

4. Get a head start on some soft networking

Reach out to influential contacts who you’ve made or helped over the year, and let them know that you’d love to work together if they ever need your assistance. Staying top-of-mind is a great way to find new opportunities.

Tip: Do your homework before your outreach, to ensure you know what your contact is currently doing professionally and to gain insights that can be used to personalize your approach.

5. Map out your next year

An action career plan for the next year lets you envision what you want to achieve and where you want to be by this time next year. It sets benchmarks that you can look back on in next year’s assessment, whether you plan for a career change, promotion or want to pick up new skills.

Tip: Be specific! Define the kind of role you would like to be doing, the skills you would like to develop, the kind of team you would want to work with or even manage/lead, and what success would look like for you. This will help you to crystalize what it is you are aiming for, as well as formulate an actionable career plan.

Following these steps will give you the purpose you need to make the next 12 months the best year for your career yet. It’s time to grab success with both hands. You have this!

Source: lhh.com

Career Transition, Outplacement and Mobility Change Management Organizational Development

2021 HR Predictions for Large Businesses

2021 HR Predictions for Large Businesses

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HR predictions for large businesses

There will be a great strain placed on HR leaders of these companies to work with the board to ensure that peaceful and smooth restructuring, outplacement and redeployment takes place. 

The word ‘unprecedented’ has been used a lot to describe this year. There isn’t a business that hasn’t been impacted in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether it’s been a temporary shut down, staff having to work from home, or having to navigate the government’s furlough scheme – there have been a lot of business firsts. 

As the year draws to a close, it serves as a good time for organisations to take a step back and reflect. While the news headlines are currently dominated by the positive news that vaccinations have started rolling out, it is certain that businesses will not return to pre-COVID norms. 

Many of the changes we have seen this year will carry on into the future – we will not be returning to working life as it was at the start of 2020, and in some cases we have not yet experienced the full impact of the pandemic. 

So, what does this mean for businesses and HR leaders as we head into 2021 and beyond? We’ve outlined our key predictions below.

HR Qualifications Will Need Updating on outplacement and redeployment

As it currently stands, outplacement and redeployment do not currently feature in the CIPD training for HR professionals. We strongly advocate for this to change as we head into the New Year. The job market is in crisis, yet there are huge benefits to any organisation that actively seeks alternatives to redundancy. HR professionals need to know exactly how outplacement and redeployment strategies work, so they are able to make the best case for it to the business leaders. 

Redundancies Will Continue to Rise

While the UK Government’s furlough scheme is credited with helping to save millions of jobs from redundancy in the short term, redundancies look set to rise in the year ahead, with the Chancellor predicting that unemployment will increase to 2.6 million by mid-2021.

While the government is doing all that it can to help, it is crucial that organisations do not use this time to delay the inevitable or procrastinate. How organisations handle this issue will have a lasting and long term impact on staff productivity, brand reputation, employee morale, company performance and the wider economy. It is therefore vital for organisations to start workforce planning now, if this has not been started already.  This should include alternatives to redundancy including redeployment and reskilling for the creation of an agile workforce. 

The Creation of Employment Bridges 

In 2021 and beyond, we expect to see a rise in the use of ‘Employment Bridges’. An Employment Bridge is a mechanism that takes surplus workers at one company and finds them temporary employment at another company, while allowing the original employer to retain the ability to recall them when and if business turns around.

As we’ve seen, some industries have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, such as the hospitality and tourism industries. However there are other industries such as security and online retail that have a need for short-term employees to deal with increased demand. 

Businesses have found themselves in an unprecedented situation, which calls for an innovative solution. The use of the Employment Bridge is a solution that not only benefits businesses needing a short-term change in staffing, but also keeps workers in employment. 

The Rise of the Chief People Officer

We will not be returning to the typical office 9-5 working environment. Many businesses will continue to implement working remote policies, or at least will adapt a hybrid system – and all businesses will need to ensure they continue having the agility in order to respond to further  have the infrastructure in place in case of further strict lockdown measures. 

Companies will either employ someone to specifically look at company culture, or at least have it as a key part of the job description. Whether it’s to help with the onboarding of new staff, keeping employees motivated or even just recreating the social element of office life remotely – the organisations best place to succeed in the year ahead will be those who take company culture seriously. 

The Rise of AI Means Businesses Need to Future-Proof Skills 

The rise of technology will continue to have a fundamental impact on businesses and the world of work. In some instances it has created new companies, sectors and in turn job opportunities. On the other hand it has created a demand for a new set of skills that can be hard to fill, and has ultimately meant that some roles have become redundant or are no longer seen as mission critical. 

New skills are required to support this shift and business leaders should see the opportunity to enhance careers, protect employees and shape the future of work in a way that benefits all. Changes in technology, longevity, work practices, and business models have also created a demand for continuous, lifelong development and this can bring significant value to the workforce. 

There will be more M&As

As we head into another year of disruption, we will definitely see more takeovers and M&A deals – likely on a scale not seen previously.

There will be a great strain placed on HR leaders of these companies to work with the board to ensure that peaceful and smooth restructuring, outplacement and redeployment takes place. 

Source: lhh.com

Career Transition, Outplacement and Mobility Change Management

How to Build the Foundations of a Learning Culture

How to Build the Foundations of a Learning Culture

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How to Build the Foundations of a Learning Culture

Deanna Mulligan, the CEO of Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, was so confident that the “learning mindset” she helped create at Guardian was the way of the future, she wrote a book on the subject. “Hire Purpose: How Smart Companies Can Close the Skills Gap” offers practical advice on creating what Mulligan describes as a “learning and growth mindset.”

Mary-Clare Race, Chief Innovation and Product Officer, LHH

The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America did not need a pandemic to realize that their business, and the skills required to succeed in it, were changing rapidly. 

Deanna Mulligan, the CEO of the 160-year-old company, said everyone realized that many of the core functions of its business were undergoing a significant change due to the introduction of AI and machine learning. That meant many of the jobs at Guardian—particularly actuaries—were going to be heavily influenced if not replaced by machines. 

So, in 2019 Guardian set to work with General Assembly, a global leader in upskilling and reskilling, and sister company to LHH with The Adecco Group, to train actuaries to be data analysts. “It was a very rigorous, intensive course,” Mulligan said in an interview for the LHH Conversations webinar series. “(Participants) spent 10 hours a week at work and 10 hours a week at home studying for a year.”

The results of this investment were almost immediate, Mulligan said. As the pandemic struck and disrupted many of the traditional approaches to work, an increasing roster of Guardian employees were already well on the way to new, more sustainable jobs. “We’ve had some very successful graduates of that course go on, not only to work in our data analytics area, but just to be able to apply data in their everyday jobs.”

But Guardian didn’t stop there. Another pilot program was launched to reskill call-center workers to be coders. “As their jobs become more automated, they will have the chance to move on to another field, another area within the company where there are a lot of growth opportunities,” she said.

Mulligan was so confident that the “learning mindset” she helped create at Guardian was the way of the future, she wrote a book on the subject. Hire Purpose: How Smart Companies Can Close the Skills Gap discusses the obligations that employers have to prepare their employees for rapid change through learning opportunities, while offering practical advice on creating what Mulligan describes as a “learning and growth mindset.” 

Mulligan agreed far too many organizations still put up a lot of barriers to the adoption of a learning and growth mindset. Some business leaders still view reskilling or upskilling as risky investments because of the possibility that employees will learn new things and then seek a job elsewhere. Mulligan said that is not the scenario business leaders should be worrying about.

“Other CEOs often say to me, ‘what if I train people and they leave and take the skills with them?’ Mulligan said. “And I say, ‘What happens if you don’t train people and they stay?’ This is a business investment and it’s really core to your company’s future but it’s a different way of thinking.”

Before Guardian could fully embrace a learning mindset and deliver projects to reskill actuaries and call-center employees, it had to build the foundation of a learning culture. To achieve that goal, the company started small, with an annual day dedicated to micro-learning.

Learning Day offered a wide variety of programs, from two-hour seminars to “lunch bites,” 30-minute videos on different topics that people could watch while eating lunch at their desks. It was so popular, Mulligan said that it evolved into Learning Month. “August is now the month where we have different activities every day around a learning and growth mindset. It is possible to change the culture to a growth mindset but none of these things happen overnight.”

The whole concept of a growth mindset—a term coined by renowned American psychologist Carol Dweck—is gaining traction in many workplaces. In keeping with Dweck’s theories, more employers are putting an emphasis on hiring people who believe that their talents and abilities can be enhanced through education and commitment. Mulligan said growth mindset is so important as a basic skill that it should prompt some companies to reduce the emphasis they place on academic credentials and previous work experience and start hiring based on a candidate’s capacity to learn and embrace change.

“One only needs to look at the situation we find ourselves in now, where we’ve all had to improvise over the last several months to accomplish things that normally would be easy to accomplish,” she said. “And the people who are best at that are the people who are flexible, who have a learning mindset. There was no job description for pandemic manager nine months ago. We all had to figure out how to do it. The days of managing risk by having people who’ve done the exact precise job repeatedly is gone. The world doesn’t operate that way anymore.”

When she is asked by other business leaders about where to start building a learning and growth mindset, Mulligan said her advice is simple: start small and keep moving forward.

“Don’t give up. This is major change, this is hard. You might fail at first but keep trying. The results are worth it. Your employees and your customers are depending on you to get this right.”

Source: lhh.com

Assessments & Analytics Career Transition, Outplacement and Mobility Change Management

The Pandemic as a Catalyst for HR Reinvention

The Pandemic as a Catalyst for HR Reinvention

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The Pandemic as a Catalyst for HR Reinvention

Working through the pandemic, HR leaders have been forced to be more innovative in reshaping long-standing HR policies and practices to look for more strategic, flexible, and adaptable ways of managing their people function.

Sharon Patterson, EVP and CHRO, LHH

When Facebook announced in March 2020 that it was eliminating first-half performance reviews because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were a lot of HR professionals nodding their heads in agreement.

It all made so much sense. After making the tough but correct decision to have its 45,000 employees worldwide work from home, Facebook quickly realized that normal performance reviews wouldn’t make any sense. Everyone’s work life had just been totally upended. Managers were still scrambling to develop protocols for keeping in touch and monitoring the progress of work. The new normal was more mystery than anything else.

In response, the company quickly retooled its review process: rather than going through the motions of a virtual review, all employees were awarded an “exceeds expectation” rating and given a $1,000 bonus.

While Facebook can be applauded for making a quick, rational decision in real time, it’s not clear what the company will do when, or if, employees return to the office. There is, however, a strong argument for a firm second look. The company has been criticized in the past for performance and peer reviews that discouraged dissent and promoted a sometimes cutthroat political environment.

Facebook’s performance review decision reflects a growing cognizance among HR professionals about whether now is the perfect time to improve, streamline and alter long-standing practices and policies that are not working but which have been starved for attention and resources.

The performance review issue is one of the best examples of a HR practice that is badly in need of reinvention. Although they can be an important source of feedback, very few are structured to meet the needs and expectations of today’s workforce.

A Gallup survey published in late 2019 just before COVID-19 struck found that only 14 percent of respondents strongly agreed that traditional performance reviews motivate them to improve their work performance. Given the cost, the survey authors noted, “many business leaders have started asking themselves, ‘Why do we do this in the first place?’ Are our performance reviews really helping us get the most out of our people and engage them?”

Gallup bolstered those results with another survey in 2020 that focused specifically on Millennial workers and performance reviews. That survey found only 19 percent of Millennials surveyed worldwide believe they get meaningful feedback at work. Rather than traditional performance reviews, Millennials are looking for more ongoing, more individualized feedback. 

Taken together, the Facebook decision, the Gallup results and the well-known concerns in the HR profession about the limits of traditional performance reviews, have created an unparalleled opportunity to revisit long-standing policies and practices to look for more strategic, flexible and adaptable ways of conducting evaluations. 

What other opportunities for change exist? Most HR leaders have a long list of innovations they’d like to introduce to improve or replace traditional practices. However, prior to the pandemic, it was difficult to generate urgent interest in these changes. 

Streamlined hiring

The endless job interview has been a sore point for many in the HR community for a very long time. Depending on the organization, it was standard for candidates to endure an endless string of interviews and soft meetings with leaders who have input on final hiring decisions. The pandemic has changed all that. Now, it’s important for organizations to focus the hiring process on only those people who truly need to be involved. Many hope that this streamlined approach—with fewer interviews and meet-and-greets—lasts into the post-pandemic period.

More robust onboarding

Let’s face it—far too many organizations survived for far too long without any kind of formal, comprehensive onboarding process. It was a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants approach that tossed new hires in the deep end and expected them to swim. In a virtual world, many of those organizations have been forced to create structured onboarding that moves new hires through a process to get them acclimatized as quickly and effortlessly as possible. This is a trend that will most definitely endure into the post-pandemic world.

Reskilling and redeployment instead of layoffs

In this economy, it is impossible to avoid layoffs completely. In certain industries and sectors, many companies are in crisis-management mode, with drastically reduced prospects and profoundly uncertain futures. But in those industries and sectors where there is less threat, but still lots of uncertainty, opportunities abound for new approaches to talent management that utilize reskilling and redeployment.

The shift away from layoffs will not be easy for some organizations to embrace. For too long, too many employers shed talent when times were tough, and then went out and hired the people they needed as things improved. However, thanks to the global skills shortage, if you were flush with the wrong kind of employees with the wrong skillsets, there was no magic talent tree where you could go out and pick up a new crop of fit-for-future talent. Now, companies are looking at their current employees as assets with knowledge and expertise that can form the foundation of a move into an entirely new role. 

The pandemic has provided a keen opportunity to embrace or amplify reskilling and redeployment strategies. Organizations that take the time now to find the potential in existing employees and help them acquire the skills needed to fill future jobs, will be much stronger coming out of the pandemic.

It has often been said that necessity is the mother of invention, and that has never been truer than now. HR leaders have been forced to be more innovative in reshaping basic HR functions. Senior leadership has been forced, more than ever before, to listen and act on these innovations.

Although there is no avoiding the sheer devastation that some companies in some industries have suffered, there are many other organizations who may find they have used the pandemic to make quantum leaps forward in both HR policy and HR practice.

Career Transition, Outplacement and Mobility

Optimising The Value of Outplacement Support

Optimising The Value of Outplacement

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Optimising The Value of Outplacement

There are numerous data sources that show providing outplacement support delivers real business benefit and positively impacts organisational KPIs. 

However, these benefits are only realised when eligible employees use the service. If they don’t know what outplacement is, they’re unlikely to take that first step and access the support that can help them secure their next move. Closing this knowledge gap is therefore critical and communication is the key to doing that. 

We frequently get asked by organisations about the best way to share information about the outplacement support they are providing for their employees. Although the best way will be unique to the specific individual or organisation concerned, our experience over the last 50 years has highlighted several proven approaches that can help ensure the highest possible levels of engagement and participation.

Notification day support

Having a consultant on site at the notice meeting so that they can meet with them straight after they’re told about their position being made redundant can be useful for both the individual impacted and the people giving the news. Regardless of whether the news is anticipated or not, people experience a range of feelings. Whilst some may view it as an opportunity to rethink their career options, most in the very early stages of their transition experience feelings of shock, anger, confusion and worry. Having someone on hand who is experienced in helping employees understand and manage their feelings whilst being able to clearly highlight the full range of support being offered can help calm the situation and provide reassurance that they have access to specialist teams committed and resourced to help them make their next move as quickly as they need.

Be there after the shock wave

Many employees when first told the news are not able to take in and fully understand all the information they’ve been given. They may be processing the reality of a separation from their organisation and not be in a place where they’re thinking about their next career move. It’s why many of our clients choose to continue to offer onsite support for some time after the notice meetings particularly if more than a handful of employees are impacted.

Share information over and over

Once the news has been processed, employees can start to think about their next move. Providing them with information about the support offered with clear details on how to get in touch as soon as possible is key. Because of the amount of information being passed onto the employee at a time when they’re likely to be struggling to process it all, we advise organisations to provide details about the outplacement support available in several ways on a number of occasions:

  • Awareness sessions
  • Directly to the employee immediately after the notice meeting
  • Email the information to the employee straight away and then again, a short period afterwards
  • Include information in any packs sent to the employee’s home
  • Ensure the line managers have the information to pass on
  • Ensure the HR team have the information to pass on
  • Post details of the support available on the intranet and /or in the employee handbook or benefits book.

As with any communications, different employees prefer to receive information in different ways. For some this may be written brochures, for some it may be short and snappy emails, whilst for others it may be video. Providing this information in several formats and at various points during the early stages of the transition process helps ensure as many people as possible receive the support they need.

Proactive support

When organisations partner with us so that our dedicated engagement team proactively engage with employees eligible for outplacement support, there is a large increase in the take-up rate of the service. The figures below highlight the impact.

Why contact details are key

In the immediacy after being told their role has been made redundant many people are not in the right position to take on board the information about the service they are entitled to use. It’s information that gets lost in the often-greater questions surrounding timing and redundancy payments.

  • Many people want to access the service available to them but are not comfortable making that first contact. This reluctance may be for many reasons – reluctance to be seen to be asking for help, lack of confidence, uncertainty as to what to say or expect, anxiety about taking a step into the unknown, a reluctance to accept that their departure from their organisation is really happening. The reasons are many. Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein have brought nudge theory to prominence in recent times, particularly when it comes to “nudging” or giving “micro nudges” in the areas of health and wellness. Often all it takes is one carefully thought out call by an expert to the employee to break that barrier and for them to take the support they need. A gentle “nudge”, never coercion, can encourage a shift in behaviour that brings benefit to the individual.
  • It’s common for individuals to feel anger towards their employer, particularly in the early stage of the transition. This anger often shows in a reluctance, often outright refusal, to engage with anything that is deemed to be from the employer. A call from an independent third-party professional can help the employee access the support they need regardless of their feelings towards the employer. 
  • Many people have little knowledge of what outplacement support is or how it can help, or they hold inaccurate assumptions about it, so they incorrectly think they cannot benefit from accessing their programme. Many for example do not realise that outplacement programmes can help with things like starting a new business, actively retiring and personal branding in addition to all the resources, tools and connections to prepare and complete a successful job search.
  • Many people, particularly if they haven’t looked for a new job for some time, do not realise how fast the job search landscape has changed. They don’t know the extent to which an outplacement programme can help them land a new job more quickly than if they go it alone by equipping them to optimise their social media profile, create a CV that gets recognised by ATS and other AI-based CV crawlers and directly connecting them to hiring managers looking for people with their skill set. 

We need a candidate’s contact details so that we can actively engage with them. Many organisations are concerned about providing this information while also ensuring they comply with data privacy requirements. We take our responsibilities for managing candidate’s personal data very seriously and have robust measures in place to protect the information of our candidates and clients and ensure that we meet the requirements of GDPR. In our experience, the vast majority of employees agree to allow their email address or phone number to be shared with an outplacement firm when they realise it could mean landing a new job that much faster. 

Better engagement, better benefits for all

If an organisation has brought outplacement services, they are already aware of the myriad of benefits that offering such a service brings to their employees directly impacted by redundancy, their wider employer population and the organisation. By taking onboard some of the steps outlined above, organisations can help to ensure that as many eligible employees as possible access the service and benefit from the investment made.

Career Transition, Outplacement and Mobility Change Management

Outplacement vs Career Transition Support

Outplacement vs Career Transition Support

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Outplacement vs Career Transition Support

Many people, including providers of these services, use the terms interchangeably. This interchanging of words is partly driven by the negative overtone of the word “outplacement” resulting in a preference to use the more positive term “career transition”, particularly to their employees being offered this kind of support. Career transition suggests a proactive journey to something else whereas outplacement often conjures up images of something being done to an employee on their way “out”.

Perhaps not surprisingly, in a recent poll we conducted amongst HR professionals, when asked about what they would change about outplacement programmes, many said the word “outplacement” was the first thing they would change!

Technically there is a difference between the two terms. Outplacement is used to describe the support given to someone whose role has been made redundant. Typically in these instances, the person whose role has been made redundant looks to secure their next move outside of their existing organisation. In contrast, career transition can have many different drivers. Yes, in some instances it may be redundancy, but for others it may be a need or choice to change direction in their career and may not necessarily result in them leaving the company. For many the difference is subtle which makes the interchangeability of the two words all the more understandable.

Does it really matter?

Is it just semantics? Does the language really matter? At the risk of sounding like a politician, yes and no. If organisations buy outplacement support but it is not fully promoted, understood or taken up by employees because of the negative name association then it means the employees and the organisations are not getting the value they need. That matters. If people are not taking up the career transition support offered because they think it’s only for those definitely leaving the company to secure a new role, then employees and their organisation are not deriving the benefits such programmes can deliver. That matters.

Actions over words

But HR professionals who are all too familiar with the old age HR personnel debate appreciate that terminology is only part of what matters. It’s actions that have a far greater impact than language. Words aside, what matters is HR teams choosing the right kind of career support for their employees and clearly communicating to each and every employee what this support looks like for them, the value it can bring to them personally and how and when they can access their individual programme.

When it comes down to it, employees won’t remember or care whether they were offered a career transition programme or an outplacement programme. What they will remember is they were treated with dignity and respect, and therefore supported in the best way possible. They’re more likely to speak well of you to potential customers and employees, more likely to “boomerang” back to you in the future, more likely to be brand advocates for your organisation and ultimately more likely to secure their next move faster. And that is what matters and makes the difference.

Career Transition, Outplacement and Mobility Change Management

What is Outplacement?

What is Outplacement?

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What is outplacement?

What is outplacement?

Outplacement is a service offered to employees who have lost their job, or will be losing their job through redundancy, to help them move onto the next stage in their career. Whether that means a new role or something entirely different, the service is paid for by employers but delivered by an independent provider who works with the organisation and the employee to smoothly transition people out of the organisation. With services like career coaching, CV writing and interview preparation, you are giving your employees the best possible chance of positively moving forward which helps protect your employer brand and minimise the risk of any negative backlash.

No two redundancies are alike, so you can expect the outplacement support to be tailored to the situation. For example, if it is a very senior executive who is leaving the business, there are support services that are specifically designed for those highly visible transitions that are more complex and take longer than average, like the ICEO service. Or it could be that you are closing a particular office in another part of the country which means there will be a high volume of redundancies over a long period of time and on-site support will be needed to manage the entire process. Whatever the situation, the right outplacement services will be able to cater to your needs, so it is important to consider the best possible support.

Why provide outplacement support?

Redundancy costs can present a heavy, albeit necessary, financial burden. With budgets under pressure and the average time in a role less than five years, organisations may be questioning whether they should add to these redundancy costs by providing outplacement support to affected employees.

Although most business leaders acknowledge that being socially responsible and “doing the right thing” are all valid and noble aims, the rising pressure on budgets means leaders must present a robust commercial business case for all expenditure. The tangible benefits experienced by organisations as a result of offering career transition support are many and varied, resulting in a compelling business case that business leaders ignore at their peril.

1. Improved employee morale, motivation and productivity

Employees remaining with the organisation can be as profoundly impacted as those individuals who lose their jobs. Feelings of insecurity, anxiety and demotivation are all too common and can quickly and negatively impact performance, sickness absence and productivity. Seeing friends and colleagues being let go without adequate support with the knowledge that it could so easily have been them, only adds to the feelings of unease and taints their opinion of the organisation. Employees with these negative emotions and unfavourable views of their employer are unlikely to provide the discretionary effort and collective input organisations need to flourish in these competitive times. In research conducted by the Aberdeen Group, 63% of organisations surveyed cited the desire to improve engagement and retention amongst existing employees as a driver of outplacement initiatives. The same research found that best-in-class companies are 2.5 times more likely to use outplacement services.

Findings by the Centre for Organisational Research (COR) showed that in businesses using outplacement services, both productivity and profitability increased in the 12 months following downsizing, with staff turnover, sick days and lateness remaining the same in the same 12-month period. When comparing businesses using outplacement services with those which did not, productivity increases were twice as common and profit stability or improvement was 50% more likely – evidence that the benefits are tangible, not merely theoretical.

It’s therefore vital that leaders take the following steps to support those who remain:

  • Communicate, communicate and communicate some more. Whether it’s sharing a clear vision of the future, clarifying the new business structure, roles and responsibilities or reconfirming how the change can bring long-term stability and growth, regular, honest and open communication is key. Without this, misinformation will spread and the rumour mill will go into overdrive.
  • Acknowledge and allow for an emotional response. We spend as much, if not more, time at work as we do at home so it’s normal for survivors to experience a range of emotions. Make it OK for people to talk and ask for help if they need it.
  • Offer external support. Whether it’s counselling, an employee assistance programme (EAP) or coaching, leaders can help ensure employees feel supported by making them fully aware of the services available, emphasising that it’s confidential and providing information on how to access the support on offer.
  • Offer employees training on managing change. Giving employees the opportunity to explore and understand the emotions around change and learn tools and strategies for managing themselves and others during periods of change can really help morale and motivation.
  • Provide career development. Post redundancies, employees need to understand their opportunities for future advancement and how their future career goals are aligned with those of the organisations. Without this understanding or belief, survivors may choose to pursue their career elsewhere at a time when you need them the most.

2. Brand and reputation protection

Social media allows people to share their views to thousands in a matter of seconds. Negative experiences relayed to the masses can quickly damage the employer and customer brand. The speed and high impact this can have explains why our research shows that 71% of participants cited improving reputation and protecting the brand as the key driver for procuring outplacement. However, for the same reasons, positive experiences and opinions can also be shared at lightning speed with huge reach. Providing genuinely useful help to employees going through career transition can therefore help to protect and even enhance the organisation’s brand and reputation.

3. Attracting future talent and shortening the time to hire

We are in the midst of a skills shortage and that shortage looks set to grow in coming years. Organisations are finding it harder than ever to recruit skilled workers, with almost three quarters of businesses struggling to make the hires they need. Combine that with the lowest unemployment rate for 44 years and it’s clear why organisations are in fierce competition for scarce talent. Research by Aberdeen Group shows organisations with formal outplacement initiatives are 81% more likely to shorten the time taken to fill key positions. In fact, they’re two and half times more likely as those without outplacement programmes to indicate that this metric improved by 10% or more. Due to the faster rate at filling vacancies, these organisations are nearly 50% more likely to reduce the cost per hire too.

Providing outplacement support helps minimise and avoid legal risk, a key driver cited by 12% of participants in a recent survey of ours. A study by the Centre for Organisational Research found that legal action reduced by 72% amongst employees using outplacement services with their displaced staff. With legal costs running into the tens of thousands per case, reducing the likelihood of legal action by providing career transition support makes sound financial sense.

With such strong evidence of the commercial benefits that offering outplacement support to employees delivers, HR professionals need to question whether their organisation can afford not to provide it to their employees affected by change. Outplacement support only represents a fraction of the overall cost of a redundancy package, yet is arguably the only part that offers a genuine return on investment.

Cash versus outplacement

Cash versus Outplacement

We sometimes get asked by our clients what the best practices are around offering the cash equivalent to outplacement services rather than providing access to the programmes themselves. And whether these recommendations change depending on the profile of the employee eligibility.

In short, we advise that for all employees regardless of seniority or function, the value derived by an outplacement programme is always higher than the cash equivalent, both for the departing employee and their employer. Perhaps you’re thinking that it’s not surprising that a company selling outplacement programmes would advise this, but it’s precisely because we see thousands of people come through our doors when their role has been made redundant and see first-hand the issues they face that we know the cash equivalent is of limited use. Here’s 3 reasons why:

1. Think about the reasons why you offer outplacement support to your employees.

 It may be because you feel it’s the right thing to do. It may be to help protect your corporate and employer brand or to help you attract future talent. It may be to help you manage the employee morale, motivation and productivity of both your “surviving” and departing employees or to reduce the legal risk. Or it may be a combination of some or all of these reasons. Whatever the rationale, these benefits are only derived if the impacted employee is given the support, tools and expertise they need to be able to secure themselves the future that they want, whether that be securing a new role, retraining, retiring or setting up their own business. An employee that takes the short-term appeal of cash is still unemployed and with less tools at their disposal to build the future they want — leaving the organisation at risk of not being able to meet their strategic objectives of supporting employees impacted by change.

2. The importance of speed

We know that people using our outplacement programmes find new jobs on average 65% faster than if they searched on their own. Without this focused support, your employees are likely to be in limbo for longer, increasing the chance of them developing and expressing negative feelings about your organisation.

3. Memory of cash fades as quickly as it is spent.

The job market is changing rapidly. Employees that have been out of job search mode for a while quickly realise how unprepared they are to secure a new role in the world of algorithm-based job boards, applicant tracking systems and immersive assessments. Many struggle to navigate their way through this maze and remain unemployed not through choice long after the cash has gone. At this point, many forget it was their choice not to take up the offer of outplacement support and their anger, blame and frustration towards your company grows and is shared amongst their networks, increasing the damage to your brand.

But it’s not all about reducing risk. There are many positive benefits that organisations gain from offering outplacement support to their employees (see page 19) that cash equivalents simply do not deliver.

Looking at the tangible benefits gained combined with the reduction of the potential risks and it’s clear why best-in-class companies are 2.5 times more likely to use outplacement services and why 71% of UK employers report that they do not offer cash in lieu of outplacement.

Career Transition, Outplacement and Mobility Change Management People Development

Building Skills to Renew an Existing Workforce

Building Skills to Renew an Existing Workforce

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Like many businesses, Microsoft Australia is preparing its workforce with the skills of tomorrow as the company ponders the challenges ahead in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. What is different is the path they are taking to renewing the existing workforce rather than replacing them.

The changes wrought by the coronavirus have included a speeding up of the digital transformation trend, placing demands for new skills on companies in every sector and affecting even a technology giant like Microsoft.

“This is a dramatic escalation of digital transformation and the demand has been significant,” the firm’s local human resources director, Ingrid Jenkins, says.

“Our customers are accelerating their digital transformation. They are looking to us as a partner in bringing that technology acumen and expertise into the conversations. So we have a definite focus around technology skills.”

But rather than hiring in new staff and making redundant those staff whose skills are no longer needed, the company is reskilling and upskilling its existing staff.

The company is boosting its workforce’s skills in cloud technology, data analytics and artificial intelligence, and cyber security – all central elements of a move to increased digitisation.

“What our customers are asking is that depth of technical acumen,” Jenkins says.

But technology “will only get you so far”, and the company is also placing a focus on analytical thinking, problem solving, creativity and consulting skills.

“It’s actually about deeply understanding your customers and industry enough to make that technology relevant,” she says. “Using the power of technology to help customers and industries with their business challenges or opportunities requires our teams to have that deep industry knowledge. So we’ve got a big focus around industry acumen.”

Jenkins says technology is moving so quickly that Microsoft couldn’t keep up simply by hiring new staff with the new skills, even if it wanted to.

Instead, each member of staff has a mandatory learning program designed specifically for their role to help them meet what will be the core requirements of that role for the future.

In addition to the core requirements training, staff have the option of taking on additional training which will help them grow into new roles. The company provides a day a month for workers to dedicate to their learning.

“Our people absolutely appreciate just how much investment there is in their skilling and keeping their skills up-to-date and relevant. They get our industry. They get how quickly things evolve and change and how they have to come up to speed,” Jenkins says.

Ultimately, she says, renewing talent rather than replacing it is a smarter business decision which can help to foster a better team culture overall.

digital transformation

James Mcilvena, the Australian managing director of workforce transformation and development organisation LHH says there simply aren’t enough qualified people in the workforce to meet demand for the skills that will help organisations grow in the future.

“Organisations need these future roles and they’re going to need to grow rather than hire when it comes to these roles,” Mcilvena says.

“It’s a smart investment of their money. If you think about the cost of taking an individual who already has the institutional knowledge from working with your organisation for 10 years, you can actually reskill and retrain that person for a lower cost than paying a redundancy and then a recruitment fee to bring a new person in.”

There are two different but related approaches, he says.

Upskilling is where staff have a significant component of the skills already needed to carry out a future-proofed job and are learning to supplement their existing skills.

“Reskilling is taking a role that might not exist in two years and saying we’re going to set you on a completely new path,” explains Mcilvena. “You might go from being a customer service rep to becoming a data analyst, a complete 180 when it comes to reskilling.”

The first step to equipping a workforce with the skills needed for the company’s future is to get a full understanding of where the company is headed and the challenges it might face, and to consider the roles that might be displaced or affected by the changes, and the new roles that will be created.

Companies then need to assess the staff to target where their investment can be maximised. If someone doesn’t have a head for figures or basic mathematical ability, trying to reskill them into a data analytics role, for instance, would be a waste of time and money.

Secondly, if companies want to get a good return on their investment in retraining, they need to spend the money on staff who are keen and open to learning new skills. Those who want to evolve with the business.

Finally, redeploying talent into the right roles is essential. “There is no point making products you can’t sell, and the same logic applies here,” Mcilvena says. “Once you have invested in your talent, you need to ensure they are placed and supported in the roles that will drive business outcomes and prosperity for the long term. If you don’t get this right, you can’t protect your investment. It takes a dedicated approach, not an internal job board.”

For the company, the financials of getting this right are just responsible business management. This is before considering there is also a pay off in terms of increased employee engagement and a stronger employer brand, says Mcilvena.

“The overwhelming response from employees is the positivity in feeling rather than outcomes being dictated to them they have more control of their own destiny,” he says.

To learn more about developing a renewable workforce, visit https://lhh.com.vn/the-new-roi/

Source: afr.com

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