Layoffs are coming, according to innovation and growth hacking consultant Lockie Andrews. In her most recent blog post, The Layoffs are Coming, she outlines why she predicts an increase in the number of layoffs in Silicon Valley in 2017 and beyond. Andrews says our current level of innovation demands a high failure rate, and downsizing is inevitable.

Besides the inevitable layoffs that come with corporate downsizing and restructuring events, the changing workplace culture demands that organizations of the future provide flexibility and mobility for workers. To keep highly talented workers inside the organization and to avoid the high costs of recruitment, hiring, and onboarding, organizations with an eye to the future are considering alternatives to layoffs that include redeployment programs.

Because most organizations don’t have the internal resources to manage and execute complex outplacement and redeployment programs, more and more of them are looking for outside solutions. Besides convenience, there are five good reasons every company should invest in outplacement and redeployment services:

  1. Maintains a positive brand reputation
  2. Improves retention and rehiring efforts
  3. Reduces the probability of litigation
  4. Creates an optimistic company culture
  5. Keeps unemployment costs low

#1 Maintains a positive brand reputation

Let’s face it, workforce reductions, especially in the case of layoffs, give displaced employees plenty of reasons to voice negative opinions about your company. To avoid negative reviews on Glassdoor, and negative comments on social sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter, companies are looking for ways to soften the transition for workers impacted by structural changes within the organization and to mitigate the negative emotions associated with job loss.

We’ve found that workers who receive outplacement services are less likely to write negative reviews online. We’ve also found that people who are focused on the future and engaged in positive activity are less likely to brood over the past. Offering the personalized coaching and job search services provided through outplacement services gives transitioning employees purpose and hope. The result is that instead of griping about your company and thinking about the past, they stay focused on the future and working on the next steps in their careers.

Offering outplacement services as a part of a fair severance package shows your employees that your corporate values are not just words on a poster. Putting your values into practice and treating employees with dignity and respect even in the worst of times will help you maintain a positive reputation.

When displaced employees feel they’ve been treated fairly, they are less likely to share their negative feelings with the world. A positive brand reputation not only protects your ability to recruit the best talent in the future, it can affect your ability to attract prospective customers who want to do business with a company with a good reputation and a strong social conscious.

#2 Improves retention and rehiring efforts

 Even during a reduction in workforce, many organizations are continuing to actively recruit for new talent in other departments. While reductions in force are designed to cut costs, continuing to recruit, hire, and onboard new employees is expensive and time consuming. As part of modern career transition services, the best outplacement providers are offering alternatives to letting employees go. Instead of firing in one department and hiring in another, redeployment programs allow organizations to retain high-performing, talented employees during times of corporate restructuring.

Besides the obvious financial benefits, redeployment programs improve trust, mitigate the loss of business knowledge and improves productivity. While it may seem like redeployment is something that employers can handle on their own, most organizations don’t have the time or resources to match the goals, skills, and experience of impacted talent to appropriate open positions within the organization.

Even if a company is able to offer some job matching services, employees often need coaching and professional branding assistance to refocus their personal value proposition and position themselves to successfully land in a new role. Whether jobs are being eliminated or not, companies wanting to stay relevant and competitive need ways to offer the talent mobility and flexibility that redeployment allows.

Sometimes it’s necessary to simply cut a workforce without providing opportunities to redeploy within the organization. Even in those cases, organizations who offer outplacement and create positive relationships with impacted employees leave the door open for “boomerang employees”—employees who are displaced or leave and ultimately return.

Rehiring past employees can save time and resources in recruitment and onboarding, so it’s important to keep a positive employment reputation even when you’re forced to lay off employees. If you plan to consider rehiring employees down the road, treating employees with respect and making sure they land a new job quickly now, will make rehiring past employees more likely in the future.

#3 Reduces probability of litigation

The comments or musing of unhappy employees can spiral into big legal problems for companies. Unfortunately, there are always opportunistic legal organizations waiting to read a tweet or a comment on Glassdoor or a blog post that expresses anger or dissatisfaction toward a past employer.

Employees who are left on their own to find their way and navigate the job search environment are more likely to be frustrated by the experience and reflect their frustration back on the company that let them go. Conversely, employees who are provided outplacement services are less likely to dwell on all the ways the company wronged them and therefore, are less likely to take legal action to retaliate.

Not offering outplacement to all transitioning employees opens organizations up to legal liability. After all, it only takes one disgruntled employee to express unhappiness in a public forum and suddenly that comment is discovered by a legal firm specializing in helping former employees file legal charges against their past organizations.

If displaced employees feel as though they were displaced for reasons of discrimination against their age, race or gender, or treated unfairly in conflict with the laws written in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), they will find reasons to sue. Even when organizations play by the rules and adhere to employment laws, including the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act) to give employees proper notice, litigators will try to make a case for unfair practices.

On the other hand, when all employees are given the coaching and other resources to help themfocus on the next steps in their career and the ability to land a new job fast, they often don’t have the time or the inclination to seek legal counsel.

#4 Creates an optimistic company culture

 Once the layoff is over, organizations tend to want to get back to work and forget it ever happened. That would be a great outcome, if it were possible. But it’s not realistic. The employees who remain may have had personal relationships with the transitioning employees and are aware of their ongoing struggles.

Survivor guilt is real and can be a productivity drain for a long time if not handled correctly. Facilitating a transition back to productivity is a lost opportunity for many organizations. Everybody gets through the initial layoff and when it’s over they don’t realize how impactful the event has been for managers and teams. Offering specific training before, during, and after the restructuring event will help minimize the grieving process and the loss of productivity associated with downsizing events.

Outplacement training is key to the recovery of the existing organization. Your organization can be so much more effective by including an outplacement counseling service every step of the way. Internally promoting outplacement as a huge benefit to impacted employees helps transitioning employees with the stigma of being laid off and it shows your surviving employees that you really care.

Don’t assume the managers in your organization have the ability to emotionally weather a layoff. Just because they are competent and confident doesn’t mean they’ll know what to say or do when they’re faced with a decision that’s completely out of their control. Having counseling, training, and materials in place targeted to your management team should be a key factor in your layoff plans.

By offering outplacement and career transition services when workforce reductions do occur, remaining employees shift their focus from worrying about their displaced friends and coworkers to taking care of the task at hand, like getting back to work. Individual employees who remain at your company are more likely to remain optimistic and continue working hard when it’s clear that  their former colleagues aren’t left hanging.

 #5 Saves on unemployment dollars.

If your restructuring event costs you time, valuable resources, and ongoing elevated expenses, then it may not be worth the effort in the first place. While outplacement is an investment up front, offering services to transitioning employees can help companies keep costs down over time.

When large numbers of displaced employees languish on unemployment over a long period of time, organizations pay elevated unemployment insurance for many years following the initial event. On the other hand, when displaced employees get back to work quickly, they collect less unemployment benefits and tap into far less of your unemployment bucket. In the case of a mass layoff, your unemployment resources are likely to get depleted quickly and your future spend will most likely increase.

According to an article on Bloomberg and reported by RiseSmart, after 12 weeks of unemployment, job seekers decrease their time spent on the job search every day by 30 minutes, worsening their chances to find future employment quickly.

Contemporary outplacement services can shorten the time to land for impacted employees by as much as 60%. Getting employees back to work quickly is another way outplacement services can save your organization money while protecting your brand and improving productivity.

 Tailored outplacement programs give employees what they need— personalized career transition services and contemporary technology solutions. The best outplacement services also provide the support and technology the organization needs to track results and prove return on investment. A partnership between a contemporary outplacement provider and a company creates the best possible chance for a positive outcome from a corporate downsizing or restructuring event. When companies make outplacement accessible to everyone in their organization faced with involuntary career transition, they are affirming their commitment to putting employees first.

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19 January 2017

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