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.
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.