5 services every outplacement program should include

Organizations are experiencing tumultuous times. Recently a former US Treasury Secretary said that the US faces “as complex a set of macroeconomic challenges as at any time in 75 years.” Many parts of the developed world appear to be heading into a recession, and it looks like, for many, 2023 will see a worsening economic climate. Businesses need to match the economic climate and that means that layoffs and redeployment will be on the cards.

Layoffs cause anxiety and fear among employees due to the uncertainty of securing another position. Employees often feel betrayed by their organization, especially if the employer doesn't provide any outplacement support.

While organizations aren't always legally required to provide an exit plan for employees, you have an ethical obligation to help your outgoing employees. Employee assistance programs are worthwhile investments that pay you back with a boost to your reputation and higher retention of your remaining employees. You will also have fewer wrongful termination lawsuits and negative reviews to deal with when your outgoing employees are happy.

An outplacement service differs to employee assistance. Outplacement programs help outgoing employees make successful career transitions by offering support for a specified duration. Whether you are laying off an entire department or a few workers, you should ensure they don't feel abandoned.

The organization partners with an outplacement service provider to help outgoing employees re-establish their careers as soon as possible, and in doing so provides a lifeline for departing employees to ensure seamless transitions and minimize employees' stress levels.

Let's explore the services and benefits that should be included in any outplacement program.

different outplacement programs

You can establish an internal outplacement program to assist outgoing employees or partner with a third-party provider. Whichever option you choose, ensure the services offered are suitable for your employees. Outplacement service providers typically have diverse programs for different types of workers. For instance, if you are closing down a whole branch of the organization, you need outplacement services for senior leaders and other professionals.

Executive outplacement programs differ from others due to the complexities of securing senior-level positions. You can also provide outplacement support for retiring employees. Some retirees may be interested in starting a business or offering consultancy services. Your program can help them build portfolios and learn networking techniques to land contracts. If an employee wants to start a business, the outplacement service should offer guidelines on running a business and outline the requirements.

what does a good outplacement program look like?

A good outplacement program provides value to the employee and the employer

Every outplacement provider has a unique method of operation. For instance, when you sign a contract with an outplacement service provider, your organization is assigned a contact person to update you on employees' progress. At the beginning of the service, employees are assigned a coach and given individual career assessments. From the initial assessment, the career coach can help them create a roadmap for their personal goals. The roadmap may include self-care strategies to help employees recover from the emotional impact of losing their jobs. Ideally, the employee should have secured another job at the end of the outplacement program.

The services offered by outplacement support providers depend on the package you choose. Most providers have basic plans that include simple CV building and revamping or comprehensive outplacement packages that offer inclusive outplacement support. If you want your employees to get the most from your outplacement program, ensure the outplacement provider includes the following services:

career coaching

The best thing to do for an outgoing employee to keep their life on track is to provide a trusted adviser or career coach as part of the outplacement service. Coaches often work closely with individual clients to provide personalized support. For instance, a career coach can help laid-off workers deal with the emotions they experience after losing their job. Self-care sessions and counseling help workers avoid rushing into decisions as a result of the anger and anxiety caused by a reduction in force. When jumping into the job search pool after some years away, you really need an insightful coach to help you chart a course. 

A career coach helps with the following:

  • assessing your interests and career direction
  • improving your brand through LinkedIn profile revamping
  • finding strong target organizations for employment
  • arranging meetings with employment organizations
  • preparing for interviews and navigating job offers

When evaluating the best outplacement programs for outgoing workers, ensure they have access to experienced career coaches. You can evaluate the coaches' certifications and expertise, as well as their coaching methods.

cover letter and resume writing

An outplacement service should improve your employees' visibility in the job market and speed up the job search process. Achieving this requires an impressive resume that grabs the attention of hiring teams. A good outplacement program ensures the participant creates a good first impression with every application by assisting their clients with resume writing. A CV or resume is still the most important job search tool, and a good outplacement provider leverages it to fast-track the process.

The resume-writing service helps employees highlight their marketable skills and makes them attractive to potential employers. Outplacement service providers help customize the resume to suit a particular job and improve its visual impact. They also train employees in using keywords to improve their chances of shortlisting on applicant tracking systems.

Some cover letter and resume-building services include revamping social media profiles on sites like LinkedIn to attract potential employers. Personal branding platforms such as LinkedIn are useful for building networks and widening the job search scope.

interview preparation

Helping laid-off workers build their brands and CVs isn't sufficient to get them a job. They have been out of the job market, so they need additional assistance to secure a job. For instance, they may not remember the last time they went for a job interview or know how to answer interview questions. An outplacement program should provide interview preparation assistance to help the employees stand out. Some of the issues addressed during interview preparation include:

  • how to answer certain questions: the outplacement services should provide training on expected questions and help the transitioning employees practice their responses.
  • organization research: an outplacement service should help employees prepare for an interview by researching the organization and the position they are interviewing for. Helping them understand the organization improves their chances of success.
  • advice on interview dress code: outplacement service providers are experts in recruitment and can help outgoing employees look the part and improve their odds of getting a job.

developing a network and networking skills

Nowadays, networking is vital for landing a job and improving the career prospects of outgoing employees. A well-connected person is more likely to receive job offers based on network recommendations. Hence, an outplacement program helps laid-off workers build and grow useful networks that boost their career prospects. Aside from providing e-learning tools for networking techniques, a good outplacement provider provides other avenues for building networking skills.

Online networking forums with people from an industry of interest can boost an employee's career prospects. However, outgoing workers should understand the rules of online networking to avoid spamming people or creating a negative first impression. While laid-off workers may not develop networking skills during the outplacement program, they should understand the ground rules and how to strike up online conversations.

job search assistance

Job hunting is time-consuming, and the process can be overwhelming for a frustrated laid-off worker. If they haven't been in the job market for years, they are unfamiliar with some hiring websites or listings that would help them find the ideal job. An outplacement program helps them learn about new job search tools and techniques to improve their chances of being shortlisted.

Working with coaches also helps outgoing employees define what they want to do next. For instance, if their roles are redundant in the current job market, what useful skills can they apply to other roles to secure a job? Outplacement providers discover workers' transferable skills through the career assessment process. They support employees in finding ways to put their skills to good use.

Some outplacement providers also have work placement services, but there's no guarantee that all your outgoing employees with be placed in new positions. Their current skills and career development goals usually have more influence on the job search process.

how to choose the right program for your employees

A good outplacement service provider boosts the support you are offering employees and prevents the bad press that could damage your reputation. Some of the considerations when selecting outplacement support for your workers include:

  • expertise: engage outplacement support with a clear understanding of the career transition services you require and their ability to offer them. For instance, if the employees affected by the layoff are entry and mid-level workers, an outplacement provider specializing in executive outplacement service would be inappropriate. The provider you choose should have experience providing the specific type and level of support your employees need.
  • coaching services: the most crucial aspect of outplacement services is coaching outgoing employees. However, coaching expertise varies with every outplacement provider depending on the experience of the available career coaches. You can check the levels of coaching services and find out how the outplacement provider matches the coaches to individuals. The coaches should also be updated on the current job market trends to help the outgoing employees utilize all the available platforms for their job search.
  • tailored services: employees have different aspirations when they lose a job. Some focus on landing the next role as soon as possible. However, others want to explore available career development options like portfolio building and self-employment. A good outplacement provider offers a range of services to cater to the specific needs of each employee. The outplacement program should also have customization options that allow employees to tailor the plan and coaching time to their individual career situations.
  • program clarity: when exploring outplacement service providers to partner with, ensure you review the programs they offer. Some providers are strong on content and providing e-learning tools to employees, but they provide minimal one-to-one coaching. That means they cannot tailor their services to individual needs. Others specialize in coaching and provide minimal e-learning tools. You should find a provider that balances content and coaching by reviewing the outplacement program and list of services offered.
  • cost: before choosing an outplacement provider, ensure you are clear on the pricing requirements. For instance, is the cost of materials part of the outplacement package? Are you paying for services that employees will use? The best outplacement provider will tailor their prices to suit your business needs and provide an outplacement package suitable for the unique requirements of your workers. While you can find cheap outplacement services, will your employee receive quality outplacement support? Avoid compromising on the quality of service to reduce the cost. The consequences of inadequate outplacement support are likely to cost more than paying for a good outplacement package.
  • location: if your organization has branches in multiple locations undergoing restructuring, you can find an outplacement service provider that supports global projects. The outplacement support should offer localized support to workers in different locations within the stipulated time frames. The location of the outplacement service also depends on an employee's needs. For instance, if an employee wishes to relocate to a new geographical location, providing services in diverse regions can be useful to them.

For more information on how to construct an outplacement program that is right for your organization and your employees, check out more of our resources.

09 November 2022

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