Conversations regarding outplacement are not at the top of anyone’s list—although outplacement is an important element of any HR toolbox, typically, the reasons for using that tool come with a negative connotation.

You see, even though outplacement is actually the most positive service you can provide your employees in the case of a separation based on the needs of your business, there is still that human element that keeps us from wanting to talk about exactly what that separation might actually mean for the members of your team.

And that is precisely why we have to talk about outplacement: it is only when you don’t talk about it—when you don’t put comprehensive, thoughtful plans in place for supporting your former employees—that your former employees have to face a potentially difficult reality.

In order to make sure that you’re talking about outplacement effectively and truly supporting your employees in their career transitions, here are three questions that you need to ask your outplacement provider:

1. How will I know that my former employees are achieving results?

In outplacement, ROI is everything, both for you and your former employees. How will you measure the return? Make sure that your outplacement provider has a way for you to quickly access information about your former employees’ progress. Ask for timely reports, and make sure that they contain relevant information, such as how long it takes for your former employees to land, whether or not they land in a job that is of the same or better quality than the one from which they were released, and how likely each former employee is to recommend the company to others or talk about their satisfaction and continued brand advocacy.

2. How do you ensure that your services are relevant to your former employees?

Just because something seems like a good idea on paper does not mean that it is a good idea in practice. Outplacement services are personal services, and they need to be based on actual peoples’ feedback, responses, and needs. Ask your provider about how long these services have been offered, and if your provider is continuing to build and test its services based on whether or not individuals find those services relevant and impactful. At the end of the day, go back to question number one: are these services useful enough to your former employees that those employees actually see results and get back to work faster?

3. How do they actually provide resources of value—and motivation—to the impacted employee?

This is the part where we get to be strategically touchy-feely: you CAN and SHOULD care for your employees’ feelings during this transition. Understand how your service provider intends to address an employee’s fears and frustrations about communicating his or her situation to friends and family across social media. Make sure that employees feel supported in building (or rebuilding) their resumes and know how often and where employees can receive relevant job leads. In doing so, you will not only be able to support your transitioning employees, but you’ll also be able to strengthen your brand and maintain a pool of talented alumni should you need candidates for new positions down the line.

A good outplacement partner doesn’t just prepare employees for the interview; a good partner puts job leads and tangible results into an individual’s inbox and ALSO prepares them for the interview. They make sure that the individuals have the support of a specialist or team of specialists with expertise in the most impactful elements of a job search to make sure that, as realistically as possible, employees’ quality of life remains the same. Finally, a good partner measures their success and is honest and proactive in reporting important not only data, but also valuable trends, while using this information to improve their current services.

In other words: make sure you’re talking about outplacement services. It could mean the difference between the employees you care about feeling the impacts of a business decision and finding value—and a new job—faster.

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25 April 2014

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