Outplacement – Why Offer It To Your Retrenched Workers?

Updated 2020.

Downsizing – It is an inevitable part of being in business in most industries and organisations today. Reducing payroll or employee headcount numbers to achieve financial requirements is often a regular part of the modern-day leadership challenge.  The 2020s is looking to be a decade of new challenges for Australian employers.  Like all “disruptions” the proven way to tackle them, and not fall behind in business evolution, is to adapt to a new way of thinking.  In short, for Australian business, you’re at risk of becoming Kodak in a DSLR world.  Research has consistently shown the many benefits of organisational outplacement for exiting workers, their line managers and their surviving colleagues.

One last investment in the exiting employee reaps far-reaching, complex rewards

So no doubt it may seem an oxymoron to some in this situation, who are looking to save money, to spend it on exiting employees and their outplacement support. Determining an accurate ROI on services such as outplacement is difficult to measure. This is true. Like anything involving measuring human engagement, goodwill, motivation and behaviour – it’s not easy.

What Is Outplacement Support?

Put simply, outplacement gives redundant employees the job search knowledge, skills, confidence, and support to help them get back into employment faster. It allows them to work with a career coach who will act as a sounding board, cheerleader, and key advisor. Working one on one with a career coach they gain clarity on what they want to do next, polish their resume, update their LinkedIn profile, upskill their interview technique, be coached on how to tap the hidden job market and much more. In today’s market, outplacement is applicable for both executive, white-collar and blue-collar workers.

Why Is It Important To Individuals

Individuals, when facing the kind of unemployment trends Australia, and particularly Melbourne, have seen recently, are at risk of “struggling to get back up again”.  With the 2020s set to be a decade of too many individuals facing a highly competitive job market, it’s vital to empower your existing staff to have the outplacement edge.  It’s more important than you might think.

Worried Outplaced Employee Seeking a New Job in the Difficult Job Market of the 2020s

Redundancy can have a profound impact on the life of an exiting employee. Every person will deal with it differently, however, some common side effects may include:

Betrayal – an employee may feel betrayed by their employer, especially if they have been with the organisation for a significant timeframe. They may have worked with the same people every day for years and even become attached to the physical workplace. To have that taken away can prove to be a traumatic experience.

Anger – this is often felt in the first instance. An employee may feel angry that it has happened and anger at everything that may have to change. They may have to travel further to a new job; they may have to acquire new skills in an unfamiliar area. It may also increase tension in the family as a result of new financial pressures.

Loss of identity – for a lot of people, a job is an identity. Once it is gone, an employee’s sense of identity may suffer. What’s next? Often they don’t know, particularly in the case of older employees.

Loss of sense of belonging – many workers see their colleagues as almost family. Hence they feel a sense of loss when this ‘familial’ atmosphere is no longer accessible to them on a daily basis. It is not just the employee who loses his/her job. Everyone in their home family is affected as well. Employees get comfortable with how they live and work and sudden change means they have to re-think everything.

Health issues – job loss can lead to stress, financial difficulty, mental conditions such as depression and anxiety, even marital breakdown. On a wider scale this puts pressure on the health and community services sector.

As an employer, you can help reduce some of these negative consequences. By providing outplacement assistance to your exiting employees, you can lessen the blow and smooth their pathway to future employment.

Not only can outplacement assist individuals emotionally cope with their newfound unemployment, it can also assist them fill any job search knowledge and skill gaps. While most adults have some job search ability, most also have gaps. Outplacement assists people ‘fill in’ their knowledge gaps so they can put their best foot forward in a competitive job market.

What Are The Benefits To The Organisation Of Offering Outplacement Services?

As an employer, there is something in it for you. Quite a lot actually. In recent studies on the impact of redundancies in workplace culture, academics have found that managing this process is a key determinant in how staff will perform going forward.

Maintaining positive relationships – exiting employees most likely contributed positively to your workplace whilst they were there. These ex-employees will continue to be brand ambassadors for your business once their paychecks end. What will they say about your organisation when they leave? Will they be future customers or suppliers? Will they go to competitors? And if so, what will they feel inclined to share? By providing outplacement, they will feel as if you cared for their future welfare despite the business circumstance. Do not under-estimate the power of this goodwill into your business’ future.

Managing the survivors– With every employee who is made redundant, there is likely to be many others who stay. Keeping survivors motivated and engaged during downsizing can be difficult, especially when their workloads generally increase and the business environment is or appears unstable.

Learn more about Survivor Syndrome the very real problem Australian business is facing.

By providing outplacement support to exiting employees you are seen to be looking after people who are going, many whom are friends of those staying, and you are sending a message that you will look after those remaining should redundancy happen to them also. While it is difficult to sometimes measure the impact of higher employee engagement, it most definitely exists. Offering and caring for your exiting employees, assists maintain (even improve) engagement levels and the loyalty of those remaining.

Reduced liability risk – Outplacement encourages people to move on to the next chapter in their lives in a positive and constructive way. It can therefore be a useful tool to minimise the risk of potential legal actions such as unfair dismissal brought by an unhappy exited employee.

With all that said, there is most definitely an organisational culture aspect to those business’ that offer outplacement. They tend to be the ones that understand the practice adds values to both the affected individuals and the business as a whole. They understand that some things that cannot be measured, can still be incredibly valuable. They understand the soft as well as the hard sides of business. They understand it is part of a sound HR practice to provide it in today’s business world. Organisations who use outplacement services understand the value their people play in their business – both past and current.

What we’ve learned about Outplacement Services

Across Australia, we’ve offered outplacement and career transitioning to people who feel like they’re in a real crisis.   As the Melbourne Outplacement Consultant, I have seen more than the usual number of retrenched workers.  It’s been a harrowing year for so many Melbournians.  Everything we do to help them transition through this life crisis adds up to the one key service we offer – hope.  By helping workers made redundant to navigate the tunnel, towards the light at the end, they’re empowered to take those steps, and move forward.

For former employers, that means your surviving workforce will hear more positive stories of their former friend and colleague, which gives everyone that hope to press on during struggles at work.  And that is priceless.

It’s in your hands

Do you have exiting workers, and surviving workers who would benefit from an actionable plan to move on from workplace downsizing?  Let us help.  Our contribution will ease stress on the exiting worker, their line managers and their former colleagues.

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