- All employee levels might be offered outplacement services that were once only available to senior executives.
- Restructuring and mass reductions in force are now commonplace. Establishing grounds for litigation is more difficult when economic conditions affecting many (rather than individual performance) is the primary reason for layoffs.
What We Are Seeing
- Services can begin before signing a release agreement
- Employees can meet with an outplacement provider to discuss services for which they are eligible, but they cannot officially engage
- Services can begin only after signing a release agreement
What Is a Best Practice?
- Employers who allow employees to engage in outplacement services without signing release agreement minimize or avoid heightened negativity and bad feeling by creating a climate of genuine concern and trust for those impacted.
- Employers provide immediate access to a support system, allowing employees to redirect, refocus and move forward in a timely fashion.
- Whether striving to be an employer of choice or not, the organization’s reputation and employer brand is enhanced (rather than put at risk) by how well it manages the separation process, impacting the ability to attract and retain employees.
- Employees are usually more proactive and able to see their situation in a better perspective after meeting with an outplacement consultant. Feelings of anger, resentment and disappointment are often dissipated. Plus, we see real benefit from the objective third party perspective that a consultant can offer. By focusing on the future and next steps, momentum is directed towards what can be controlled and inertia is minimized or better still avoided.
- Employees receive professional advice and assistance before mis-steps occur in what they say and what they do. When individuals launch a job search marketing campaign flying solo, damage (sometimes irreversible) can occur in the early days, especially in an era when social media plays such a critical role in the campaign. In a tough job market, getting good advice from day one can ensure that opportunities are leveraged and mis-steps are avoided. Good advice out of the gate may also make a difference in how long the job search will take. When an outplacement consultant begins working with a job seeker who has been flying solo, momentum is lost by having to retrace steps, retrieve/re-work marketing materials and revise communications that might be inappropriately in place.
- Few individuals who are offered outplacement services understand how an experienced outplacement consultant can support them in their job search (in both tangible as well as intangible ways). If an agreement has to be signed before services can begin, we would advocate for allowing employees to have an initial meeting with their outplacement consultants so that they can better understand and appreciate the expert advice, guidance, market knowledge, connections and support system that a consultant has to offer. This has the potential to strengthen confidence and reduce stress, especially among those who haven’t conducted a job search in a while. It also affords hope to those individuals who feel their situation may be hopeless.