We’ve heard a variety of terms applied to employees displaced from their places of work over the past few weeks. These include – let go, furloughed, terminated, fired, laid-off, RIF and downsized. None of these outplacement terms bring comfort to our hearts. It’s just an unwelcome reality at this time.
We’ve also heard of a variety of steps and missteps made by employers in notifying all or part of their workforce that “their services will no longer be required”. With the government scrambling to provide relief, we now have a glut of people who will be / are looking for work. These people may not have been in a job search for years. Dismissal from employment is unsettling enough but being thrown to the wolves in an extremely chaotic and competitive employment marketplace can seem like “piling on”.
Through the years I’ve had my share of “tough conversations” about ending employment with employees. I’ve found that the way a person is treated when asked to leave has far reaching impacts on both the departing employee and organization as well.
While spending more money in these calamitous times may seem counter intuitive, companies should strongly consider providing a “softer landing” for displaced workers by connecting them to professional guidance for their job/career search.
A thoughtful outplacement strategy offers a variety of benefits to the employer by:
- Doing the “right thing” – especially if employees have been with your company for a long time, you may feel you have a moral obligation to help them find new paths.
- Protecting the company’s reputation – In this social media-driven era, news travels fast, and it doesn’t even have to be true in order to be believe. Bitter employees can vent unfettered, and others may well take their side, regardless of the current situation.
- Your brand hangs in the balance – providing outplacement services can be a good public relations move. It may go a long way toward helping retain remaining employees and recruit top-drawer candidates when you’re ready to hire again.
- Existing employees’ morale benefits – a company’s current employees are its best advertising. Employees left standing may worry they’ll be next. Providing outplacement services can show you’ve got your employees’ backs.
- Outplacement services costs may help save money – Biting the bullet to spend money for outplacement now may help prevent litigation by unhappy employees later. It may also lower unemployment claims if laid-off employees are able to return to work more quickly.
Some elements of the outplacement package:
- Agreement detailing services to be provided as well as covenants in place in consideration of accepting the agreement. For example – confidentiality, prohibition on further claims etc.
- Career assessment tool – this may be the time for the employee to revisit their career choices. They may also desire a vocation less likely to have disruption in similar future circumstances. Assessments can also confirm current career choices and provide more confidence in an ongoing job search for similar employment
- Creation of a personalized Job Search Plan / Network Development / Self Marketing strategies
- Resume Review and Development / Creating Cover Letters
- Social Media Presence – LinkedIn, Indeed, etc. – Elevator Speech
- Interview Techniques (face-to-face and virtual) – Professional Presence
- One – to – One coaching to bolster confidence and professional presence
There’s no pleasant way to tell an employee that you do not need him anymore regardless of what the circumstances are. All we can do is endeavor to assist people in finding their way in an uncertain future.