5 questions to ask before implementing an outplacement programme

Whilst restructuring and redundancies are a reality for many organisations during uncertain times, providing a comprehensive outplacement support programme to exiting employees isn’t just the right thing to do – it makes business sense. Here are five questions to ask yourself before you get started.

1. Why are you investing in outplacement?

There are many reasons to invest in outplacement. The most obvious is a duty of care to those leaving the business, ensuring they’re provided with the tools and information they need to make their transition as smooth as possible, and to approach a difficult job market with confidence. Whilst you may not be able to control the opportunities available to your former employees, you can ensure they’re equipped with a winning CV, knowledge of the hidden job market, online networking techniques and an understanding of their transferable skills.

It’s also important to remember that each employee will have different career goals – so support must take into account options such as self-employment, consultancy, higher education or retirement.

Whilst outplacement is undoubtedly the right thing to do for your people, it’s also key to maintaining employer brand. In today’s digital world of social media and employer review sites, businesses must remember that former employees are critics and customers, too. Offering outplacement services means that those in transition get professional help in identifying and preparing for their next career move so they land on their feet faster, and current employees are more likely to view the changes positively and stay engaged and committed to their work.

Businesses must also consider the concept of boomerang workers, with the very real possibility that former employees represent a rich talent pool for the future.

2. What do your employees really want?

Whilst compensation will be a key consideration for those being made redundant, it’s simply not enough to provide exiting employees with a financial package and send them on their way.

One-to-one coaching provides the greatest benefit – offering a confidential, impartial opportunity for individuals to explore their options with a qualified career coach.

The world of work has undergone a significant shift and the focus for many outplacement discussions will be on upskilling or reskilling: helping individuals to identify potential opportunities outside of their sector or expertise, and highlighting areas for development, signposting to training that will help people gain those skills and boost employability.

Consider how you can support the mental and emotional wellbeing of your employees. Outplacement programmes can include resilience and change management training – useful techniques when facing uncertainty.

3. Are you communicating fairly and transparently?

Communication is key for any change project, especially where this involves restructuring. How you restructure your organisation and prepare it for growth is directly impacted by how you treat departing employees. Poor communication has a negative impact on morale, often making the difference between a successful and unsuccessful initiative. Providing clarity from the outset is vitally important to help individuals understand how they will be affected and what the changes may mean for them, as well as avoiding mixed messages travelling across the company. It’s also essential to communicate the benefits of the outplacement support to line managers who may be managing referrals.

Communication must be delivered consistently across the organisation; messaging can become blocked or diluted as it’s filtered down through leadership channels, leading to mistrust or disengagement. Communication also shouldn’t just be an area of focus during a specific change programme – an ongoing internal communication strategy should be business as usual, ensuring employees feel valued and informed at all times.

4.What about the remainers?

Organisations often focus on those exiting the business yet make little investment in those who have retained roles, despite the difficulties and increased expectations that may be placed on these individuals to maintain business as usual with fewer resources.

An engagement strategy that covers all groups, especially those that will be tasked with moving the business forwards, is key. This could include team building, upskilling or simply a regular communication to demonstrate care from the top down. It’s critical that individuals understand the role they play and the value they bring in helping shape and steer the new world.

Arguably, the most critical factor in the success of any organisational change is how people are led. Effective leadership is vital in ensuring a consistent and clear message is delivered across the company.

Employees look to leaders for guidance and support, yet often they too are struggling with the change put upon them. Consider training to help leaders and managers communicate messages effectively and consistently, allowing employees to move forward feeling respected and valued.

5. What are you looking for from an outplacement provider?

Choosing the right provider has never been more critical. With individuals entering an employment market that’s changed overnight, now more than ever you need a provider that offers flexibility, choice and results, giving individuals the skills and resources to make critical decisions about their futures. Elements to consider include:

  • Flexibility – does your provider offer onsite, virtual and group options to suit your workforce? Can programmes be deferred as required, and are they available immediately for those who need them?
  • Individual focus – with high-volume outplacement comes a risk of the ‘sheep dip’ effect. An outplacement programme that’s designed to fit all needs is likely to suit none. How does your provider tailor support to meet individual challenges? Understand what the participant journey looks like, and whether you’d be happy to undertake it yourself. If delivered virtually, do your employees also have the option to receive help via the phone, or to access support at the weekend?
  • World of work expertis – with employment levels at a record low, you need to be assured that your outplacement provider has the job market knowledge and connections to help your people land a new role as easily as possible. Consider whether the support includes a focus on transferable skills and identifying alternative sectors or job roles.
  • Ease of access – you need to ensure that accessing support is as easy as possible for your exiting employees. Remote delivery is essential. Is content broken up into bitesize chunks or are candidates expected to spend hours attending virtual workshops? Is the technology used reliable and GDPR compliant? Can participants pick and choose from a series of topics to suit their needs?
  • Scalability – it’s impossible to know how your requirement for outplacement support may flex over the coming months. Choose a provider that offers the option to scale up or down at short notice – irrespective of geographical location.

Find out more about our flexible outplacement services and get in touch with us here.