What do you picture when you hear the word “virtual?” If it’s the inconvenience of seeking an answer to a specific and unique question in a hard to search website FAQ (with no contact information in sight) or the purgatory of trying to reach a human at your cable company using their interactive voice recording system, then you’re probably not alone.

Yet “virtual” doesn’t have to mean “impersonal” or “stripped down;” it merely means that services—real, human, individualized, and on-demand services—can be delivered without having to meet an employee face-to-face.

For many organizations, moving to virtual service delivery (or incorporating “the cloud” into services that were typically delivered in person) can feel like a risk. It feels untested—something for us techies out in Silicon Valley to consider, but not an investment that a large, established corporation has the time, money, or agility to make.

But it’s time to push back against that assumption. It’s time to consider virtual service delivery, as it’s not an untested or unproven commodity—quite the opposite, in fact. For many HR services, going virtual isn’t just the way of the future; it’s happening now.

At RiseSmart, we obviously have an investment in changing the paradigm and the conversation around virtual service delivery, but we thought it was worth getting feedback from the people whom that investment most directly and immediately affects: job seekers.

We recently ran a survey of over 7000 job seekers who had been laid off in the past year. We asked them about their experiences with outplacement and which career transition services were most effective or desirable. We also asked them how they felt about virtual outplacement service delivery.

One of the most interesting things that we learned was that job seekers recognize the convenience of virtual delivery. When asked whether they would prefer virtual or in-person services, participants who had not experienced true virtual outplacement were about 16 percent more likely to prefer virtual services over in-person…and when we looked at RiseSmart participants’ preferences (all of whom actually received virtual outplacement), the response was a whopping 76:1.

This isn’t without reason: virtual service delivery—which included full service outplacement coaching and more, not just a web platform—was more effective in helping job seekers land a new job. 77 percent of full time, salaried employees landed a job with virtual coaching, compared to the 65 percent who landed a job with in-person coaching (either 1:1 or group).

The question is: why might this be more effective? We can make a few assumptions:

  • In-person coaching requires a significant investment on the part of the outplacement firm. Brick-and-mortar offices have overhead—and overhead eats into a company’s funds, which might otherwise be allocated for investment in innovation.
  • Virtual coaching allows the outplacement provider to connect each participant with the right coach for them, not just the nearest. The right coach might be someone local, but they also might be someone with industry experience, executive coaching experience, or some other quality that may not be accessible from a pool of local coaches.
  • Virtual coaching allows job seekers accessibility and flexibility. Some job seekers may take contract positions or part-time jobs while they seek new, stable roles, and they may not be able to make office hours. Other job seekers may have other commitments that take up time during the day, like tending to their families, and so they prefer to search for jobs at night. Still others may not have access to transportation or may be miles from the nearest coaching office, so virtual coaching allows job seekers to carry out their search without a long or impossible commute.

When it comes to career transition services, virtual can mean the difference between a fast and easy landing in a stable role and a prolonged job search. That not only directly affects the livelihood and wellbeing of your former employees, but it also can have an impact on your organization. The faster your employees land, the less risk you introduce to your business, from unemployment charges and legal risk, to your employer brand.

What else can you learn from the services used and job seeking behaviors of recently laid off employees? Download the full report to find out:

Insights on Job Seekers in Transition: What Every Employer Needs to Know

13 April 2016

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