Offering outplacement to staff impacted by redundancy might at first seem an odd decision. Why invest in those leaving the organisation? Especially if the whole point of the reorganisation is to save money.
In my first proper HR job, I remember being invited by the Personnel Director (few people used the term HR back then) to join him in a meeting with a sales person from Sanders and Sidney. Anyone remember them? I remember the sales person “crashing and burning” in his attempt to convince my boss that spending money on outplacement made sense.
This is not just “fluffy stuff”
To be fair, in 15 years at Chiumento I’ve met a fair few CEOs, Finance Directors and even a handful of HRDs who have, initially at least, been just as sceptical. So how do you win them over?
Providing outplacement isn’t just the right or nice thing to do, it also has many tangible benefits that have measurable impact on an organisation. You can construct a really solid business case for outplacement based on three core themes.
Employer brand and reputation
Let’s face it, most employers struggle to hire quality staff in the current jobs market. Hiring is expensive and so is building an employer brand that helps convince workers that your organisation is worth joining.
Many organisations have company values revolving around treating people fairly and with respect. Offering outplacement to those staff you’re letting go is a very visible sign that a company is living up to its values, even under difficult circumstances. Companies spend millions on their consumer and employer brands, on marketing them, and building their reputation. These reputations can take just seconds to ruin if a redundancy process is handled badly, as a number of high-profile cases such as P&O Ferries have shown over the past few years.
Ultimately organisations are judged as much by what they do for the people in bad times as the good. Offering outplacement can therefore be seen as an investment in “employer brand protection”.
Maintaining engagement and productivity
Not everyone made redundant leaves immediately. In situations like site closures for example, individuals may need to work until the end of the process. This could be months into the future. That is a lot of time for people to be anxious and distracted. Almost inevitably leading to a drop in productivity and focus.
Redundancy doesn’t just impact those leaving. It can have a detrimental effect on those staying too. They will likely be worried and concerned for the future of colleagues. Getting them back focused is a key part of managing change.
Offering outplacement provides reassurance to those who will be leaving that they’ll be helped. A lot of preparatory work, like getting a great CV prepared, can be done in advance of leaving. That boosts confidence that job search will be supported and a return to employment accelerated.
Seeing departing colleagues being supported helps their remaining colleagues “move on”, confident the organisation is doing the right thing, they can re-focus on their jobs.
By offering outplacement support to departing staff you are giving them the best chance of securing a new role. The help, support, and guidance of an outplacement programme will give focus and structure to any job search and put your departing staff in the best position to secure a new role and to do so quickly.
When they land your former employees will remember you gave them that support. They’ll likely say positive things about you to their new colleagues and to their friends and family.
The reality for most businesses is that recruitment doesn’t stop when making redundancies. Or, if it is paused, it starts again relatively quickly. What ex-employees say about you matters. Offering outplacement makes it far more likely they will say positive things.