It's not just about image, it's about doing right by former employees, and showing them their company cares about their career path, not just their place in the company. It's just good business. Unemployment is a scary prospect, but employers can make it less so.
The U.S. economy is slowly but surely bouncing back from the '07 recession, but employers are still reluctant to hire until they are comfortable in the new economic climate. Unemployment rates are undeniably better than the last few years, but the U.S. is still hovering around 8%. Downsizing and layoffs are still a common occurrence.
As an employer, you are expected to offer outplacement, but kick it up a notch. Investing in a superior outplacement program helps former employees get back to work faster, makes current employees feel more secure post-transition and boosts the company brand long-term.
Former employees don't just need money (although it helps), they need tools and support that is unique to your industry and their needs. Often, when employees are laid off, they are offered a pretty standard severance package to help keep them afloat while they search for another job. But what about the searching for another job part? For many that is not in their specific toolset. Outplacement offers them the tools they need to land on their feet and keep on going.
Get the search up and going, give them the tools and point them in the right direction. Starting with some guidance in networking (especially social) can make a huge difference in speedy job placement. Networking has steadily grown to become the number one means of landing a job.
A large part of networking is social media. Most job seekers are partially aware of the importance of social media in a job search, however, there are still those stubborn tech stragglers that have no clue what they're doing in the social media realm. Don't just assume that everyone knows what they're doing when it comes to social media. Instruction in this area should be extensive and start from the bottom. Again, many outplacement programs are insisting on this as part of their offering.
Furthermore, instruction on job boards and how to utilize them will be immensely helpful. Again, not everyone knows how to make these tools work for them. In fact, many top-notch job search tools aren't available to the average jobseeker, as they would be cost-prohibitive. Outplacement programs can help with this. Because they work with so many jobseekers all the time, these tools are often part of their offerings, giving those transitioning access to Hoovers-like information for less.
Many of these workers will have not updated their resume in years. Offer them assistance, workshops and professional feedback on their resumes. A detailed look from this side of HR can get them current on resume practices, what to zero in on in their experience section and show them how to overcome obstacles like layoffs, lack of education and other stumbling blocks.
Offering mentorship programs will create long-lasting social networks within your company and foster a healthy culture where employees and former employees serve one another. Baby boomers are ideal for this role. The feedback from baby boomers indicates that they want to work less, but they're not ready for retirement. Outplacement services offer this by their very nature. The virtual nature of Ouplacement 2.0 programs (like Careerminds) makes it even more personal by assuring the transitioning employee that their career consultant is just a phone call or email away. Seasoned professional figures in their field are a great source of information and guidance. But make sure that whatever program you move forward with insists on background checks and some certification before unleashing them on the jobseeking public.
Make your services memorable and unique by thinking outside the box. Think about what your former employees' needs and wants are as they go through this time of transition. This is easier to do when you keep the lines of communication open and engage these former employees. Lectures and workshops are find and dandy, but what about child care while they build up their network and go on interviews? Think of new ways to help that will be truly beneficial to those using the outplacement service.
Outplacement cuts down on the time spent unemployed. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the average unemployed duration for American workers is about 10.5 months. The use of virtual outplacement services has gotten that time down to an average 3 months. Outplacement works and it's becoming common practice, but the point here isn't to be common, it's to be better.