Getting employee outplacement services is an important measure that a company can take to ensure smooth transitioning for the company as well as the laid-off employee(s).
Some of the reasons that could force a layoff event include redundancy, downsizing, mergers and acquisitions, restructuring, and other organizational reasons. Traditionally, companies would only offer severance pay and benefits during layoffs, but in recent times more and more companies are taking up employee outplacement services to assist exiting employees to get new jobs or re-orient themselves with the job market.
Offering outplacement services to employees is quite beneficial to a company, too, and it should not be underestimated. However, finding the right provider for your company can be a daunting task. Before we get into the questions you need to consider when shopping for outplacement, why should you use the service in the first place?
To answer this, let's look at the benefits of outplacement:
What are the benefits of employee outplacement services?
First off, there are LOTS of benefits to outplacement. To keep it brief, though, here are the three top three reasons more and more companies are using it:
- It boosts the morale and productivity of 'surviving' employees. Your surviving employees see how you treat their colleagues. Offering employee outplacement services not only confirms that they have something to fall back on if they ever get laid off from the company. It increases their confidence knowing that they are working for a company that cares for them. This boosts their morale and productivity while also retaining them.
- It helps prevent lawsuits. Naturally, if an employee is laid off, they might be angry and hurt. Perhaps they had worked for the company for a decade or more. They may feel aggrieved and may want to sue the company. Whether the grievances are real or perceived, a lawsuit does not augur well for your company’s reputation. It also costs money, potentially a lot of it. An employee who leaves and signs on with an outplacement services company right away may have little need or time to engage in a lawsuit.
- It boosts your company image. Employee outplacement services are offered by “responsible” companies. This is a good image to have. It not only helps you attract top talent, but you will also be regarded highly by other companies who might want to do business or to be associated with you. According to Forbes Magazine, laid-off workers who are receiving outplacement services are important ‘press releases’ for the company.
Now that you know the why so many great companies use outplacement services, it's important to know what to look for to make sure you find the provider that will work the best with your company and staff. It can be a daunting tasking to wade through all of the outplacement companies out there. So keep these six questions in mind.
Things to Consider Before Buying an Outplacement Service
Here is an overview of what we will cover more deeply below:
- Is the service effective?
- What kind of support does it offer?
- Does it use the latest technology?
- Are the coaches professional and experienced?
- Does it offer up-to-date advice, tips, and information that lead to jobs?
- How much does it cost?
Let's get into it.
Is It Effective?
An effective service is one that offers individual attention and quality alongside relevant advice that empowers an employee to move quickly from the rejection they must have felt by losing their job to building a new confidence in themselves that allows them to identify their skills and abilities. The job seeker will then be able to use these skills to find the right job for them.
While it is not easy to measure such effectiveness, it should be evident in the numbers that the particular company you are considering has helped put people back to work in new, meaningful roles. Reviews can also be helpful as they show how participants felt using the service.
Determine the Level of Support
The kind of support that the employee outplacement services firm will offer is crucial in determining how fast they get people back to work. Ask if the firm offers individual and personalized assistance or group consultations.
For example, does the outplacement firm guide the job seekers while creating a resume and cover letter or do they provide a template that they use and leave them to do it by themselves?
Another important factor is time. How long does the program run for? Is there cut off time at three months, six months, a year, etc.? Or does the program run until a job has been secured? According to Columbia University Professor James Westaby, workers who received ‘one-size-fits-all outplacement packages were less likely to find jobs and often accepted roles with lower salaries’. Finding out the answers to these questions is important as they will determine which outplacement services you buy and whether they will meet the needs of your ex-employees.
Technology has forever changed the way we do things, and this should not be any different for employee outplacement services. In buying outplacement services, look for a company that offers online solutions such as tutorials, webinars, Skype calls, and meetings, etc. These ‘green’ solutions do not only save time but also allow your ex-employees to do the groundwork from the comfort of their homes or as they do a part-time job.
At the same time, this virtual approach considers their economic circumstances by reducing unnecessary travel to and from the consultant’s offices. After groundwork has been done, face-to-face meetings can be reserved for meeting potential employers or attending interviews. A technologically savvy outplacement provider must also know and be able to advise clients on reliable job websites as well as professional social media sites that they could join to increase their chances of landing a new job.
Before buying employee outplacement services find out what kind of consultants are employed for the job.
Are they experienced professionals - able to quickly assess a client to see what area they need the most help with, and then be able to offer this help? Are they flexible enough to handle the needs of different types of people, from slightly experienced employees to top executives?
It is also important to find out how a coach is picked for each employee. Is it at random or there is an effort to match an employee with a suitable consultant? A senior executive, for example, would probably not fair well by being matched with a 20-year-old who just started on the job market. Having the right consultant is an important factor that contributes greatly to success.
Thought Leadership and Current Advice
Some years will have elapsed since some of your laid-off employees were last on the job market. Starting to look for a job anew might be daunting for such employees.
The employee outplacement services firm that you go with will be a crucial link between the employee and a job market that might feel big and scary. As such, you must select an outplacement services firm that will offer up-to-date advice, such as the use of new job hunting tools including social media, tips on how to create profiles and tweak resumes as well as real information that will lead to jobs.
Employee outplacement services cost is an important factor when choosing an outplacement firm, obviously. You should not, however, immediately settle for the cheapest firm based only on dollar amounts. In the same way, do not be led to believe that the most expensive or the largest outplacement firms offer the best services or are the most effective.
Do not be pressured into making a decision right after a demo, unless you have done enough research and are sure that this is the package you are looking for. The best firm to settle for from a list of outplacement firms is the one that ticks the most boxes out of what you are looking for. Check out our guide on how to save money on outplacement services.
With so many outplacement firms out there, it’s quite difficult to find just the right one, one that can fit your budget and fulfill what’s required. With these guidelines, however, you are in a better to find an outplacement company that’s right for you. If your company is in Chicago, check out our distinct blog post on things to consider before buying an outplacement service in Chicago.