Outplacement – What steps can a company take to help people?

Last week’s news bulletins played footage of Deutsche Bank employees leaving their offices carrying cardboard boxes probably elicited a variety of feelings in viewers. Perhaps some are envisaging themselves in the departing employees’ shoes. Perhaps some have been there. Others will be thinking of employees they have had to let go and the responsibility they bear to their current employees.

We have already looked at why it is important and beneficial for employers to invest in their people at all stages during the employment cycle. But what does that look like in practice?

Investing in departing employees doesn’t mean cheaply discarding them.

When asking for our proposal for an outplacement assignment, one executive said: “We want to give the employees we let go a soft landing, but we don’t want to put too much into it.” When asked what he meant, he said, “Is there some online way to do this cheaply?”

There are many such ways, and in some cases they are entirely appropriate. There will be times when the job market is flourishing or when the employee in question is incredibly self-sufficient, has a battery of sought-after skills, and perhaps has youth on their side.

For senior executives with long service, or during times when the job market is a difficult or uncertain place to navigate, a deeper level of support may be required. In order to manage departures positively and ensure a successful ongoing relationship, a cheaper online option is not sufficient.

Think about what action you need to take and when.

PRS are available at every stage and our service doesn’t start when the severance agreement is drawn up. We will talk to you earlier on before any decisions have been taken and can work with you and support your in-house team during any initial consultation process. If you have a limited HR resource you may want to consider this option.

When you decide to meet us after a decision has been made we will help you decide exactly what level of support you want to give to each departing employee. We are flexible in our choice of programmes. One HR Manager who hired us for outplacement said: “I want a mix of online, on-the-phone and in-person connections. These people need real support and specific advice, not just webinars and tutorials.”

A bespoke and appropriate programme for each individual.

Overall we believe that regardless of the mode of delivery of services for exiting employees, companies should not make it about severing a relationship but rather view it as investing in an ongoing relationship. We don’t make it complicated and always tailor our level of programme to your budget and the needs of the departing employee.

For more information about our tailored Outplacement services, please contact PRS here.

Why should I give my people Outplacement?

your employees are your best pr

Your Employees and Ex-Employees are your best PR.

Companies invest in PR and Communications to promote their positives, their products, the benefits of their service and their commitment to the community. One of the most important “press releases” a company can have is how it handles the employee who leaves.

Even though employees may sign their severance agreements, they usually don’t feel happy to be let go, regardless of the circumstances. They’re angry. They’re also upset, embarrassed and confused. They will want to talk to people and the way in which you handle their departure will influence what they say.

Your Ex-Employees talk to others.

Through social media, ex-employees have a louder voice and wider audience than ever before. Scathing comments from disgruntled former employees can spread as virally as photos of cats and videos of politicians making gaffes. A company’s reputation can take a huge hit from the negative feedback and it can make recruiting top talent far more difficult in the future.

Yet the way a company deals with ex-employees should not be seen as a cynical damage-limitation exercise. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate that you genuinely care about the people who have worked hard for you. The relationship is not over – they will likely require references and, when they do talk to others, you would like to be recognised as an employer who takes care of employees at all stages of the career cycle. This message is equally important for potential and current employees to hear.

Your future Employees will look at how you treat people.

Employees who have been let go will be experiencing a barrage of negative emotions. However, for companies that provide a strong severance agreement and pay for months of outplacement or career services, it can mean the world to someone who needs support and help in finding new employment.

This can be a powerful lasting benefit for a company. One HR manager said to us: “You know, we are laying off many of these people, but they are people I care about and people I hired. When we recover from this setback in the business, we may want to hire them again. It’s a small world.”

Your current Employees are watching too.

Investing in your exiting employees often means that you care about them, and it sends a strong message to those left behind in the business too: “We care about you from beginning to end.” It builds esprit de corps with your current workforce and shows how you respond to something negative in a positive way.

Those employees who are leaving go on to talk to current employees with whom they often still have a relationship. They may even be tempted to post reviews on Glassdoor or provide a reference for your company. One HR manager who hired told me, “These people still have friends here, and they will need them as references. I know those who signed our severance agreed not to sue us, but they talk to others, and I want them to speak positively about the way we treated them. It will come back to us.”

For more information about Outplacement Services, please contact us here.

Brexit uncertainty and the current job market

Festival over uncertain future
Photo credit: SWNS:South West News Service

‘All we know is that we don’t know’ sang Oasis back in the 1990s. An apt summation of our current times. Many aspects of 90’s culture are experiencing a revival in 2019, though it’s not clear if there is a Masterplan for Brexit. Uncertainty looms large.

As Liam Gallagher’s Glastonbury set ends and festival goers, whose average age is 39 (the second most highly represented age group is 41–50 year olds) travel home, many are returning to jobs which may well not feel as secure as they did three years ago. Manufacturing industries fill the headlines, but the shadow cast by the mysterious monolith of Brexit falls across all sectors.

Though employment in Britain reached a record high of 32.75 million in April, growth has slowed in the months since. What is significant though is the nature of the employment. Uncertainty about the future dissuades employers from making long term investments in people. Until the future starts to become clear, firms are looking to meet immediate demands with short-term hires.

This short-term approach means more people are changing jobs more frequently. This is coupled with a second important difference. Though slowed, the employment figures taken from the Office of National Statistics still seem to defy Brexit fears. However, what has changed significantly in 2019 is the number of vacancies. Though generally increasing since 2012, since January the number of available jobs fell from 861,000 to 837,000.

In short, Brexit has brought particular uncertainty to employers and those in the job market. In the current environment many of your departing employees may be highly skilled but facing a fiercely competitive job market without any knowledge of how or where to market themselves.

• Most will not know that up to 80% of jobs are unadvertised.
• Only 20% are likely to be proactive on Linkedin.
• Those with a strong business network may not be adept at working it.
• Some will be the victim of ageism and need to look at other options.
• Many will regard redundancy as an opportunity to explore new avenues including making a career change but not sure of their options.
• A few will want to start a new business or develop a portfolio career.

PRS has many years of knowledge of working with people during uncertain times and managing every one of the situations above.
Some organisations do not choose to invest in outplacement. Today there are many automated choices to land a job and to help with job search or outplacement. However, the process can be hard and time consuming for the employee and dealing with a layoff can often be emotionally draining, financially difficult and hard on anyone at any level.

The human approach provided by PRS is particularly valuable in difficult times. Automation can be a great route to a new job for those who already have their own masterplan. However, many people just don’t know what their next step should be. In an environment of ambiguity and anxiety, robots can offer little comfort or guidance.

Departing employees will be your brand ambassadors whether you want them to be or not, so quality providing outplacement should always be a priority. In these days of uncertainty, providing quality, human support is more important than ever.

‘And sail them home with acquiesce
On a ship of hope today
And as they land upon the shore
Tell them not to fear no more’

Redundancy: From feeling anger to finding opportunities

redundancy counselling
The days of carriage clocks and gold watches as long service awards are fast disappearing. Not only because employers are discovering more varied gifts of recognition but because long service itself is increasingly rare. Most people currently working can expect to be employed across multiple companies, maybe even multiple industries, during the course of their career. There are likely to be several changes. Not all of them will be voluntary.

This can make people angry. But that is okay. No amount of articles you read about how redundancy is increasingly commonplace can diminish the fact that it can hurt. Ignoring that hurt and treating this particular transition as any other career stepping stone may not be good for your health. Career workshops full of strangers and online guidance do not do justice to the emotions in play. A more personal, human touch is often required.

Redundancy may be the ‘new normal’ but, as PRS’s Career Transition expert Peter Wilford explains, it can also represent ‘a psychological crisis’. For many people caught up in the process ‘redundancy can bring a sudden sense of loss in two areas; the practical loss of income and the psychological impact of loss of status, companionship and the mental well-being associated with being fully employed. It can also undermine our sense of self-esteem and bring about a fear of what’s to come in the future’*.

In a situation like this, there is likely to be sadness and fear – as well as anger. These are emotions that need to be recognised, accepted and worked through. Redundancy releases emotions similar to a bereavement or relationship breakdown. Emotions from events like these can be repressed or brushed under the rug but may continue to haunt you, could ultimately resurface and will certainly impede decision making when it comes to choosing the right career destination for the future.

So how do you deal with a potential psychological crisis, come to terms with change and effectively plan your next steps? Personalised redundancy counselling is the most complete solution. Due to the similarities with bereavement, the Kubler-Ross grief cycle is often used to understand reaction to redundancy: Denial, followed by anger, bargaining, depression and, finally, acceptance. Everyone’s timescale for moving through this will be different and everyone’s needs will vary accordingly, which is where ‘one size fits all’ group sessions can feel unhelpful and an e-learning programme devoid of empathy.

One to one counselling adapts according to the needs of the individual. For those who have completed the cycle and accepted their new situation, counselling takes the form of practical advice and support in finding a new position. Others who have experienced a significant setback as a result of being made redundant – such as a loss of confidence – can work on overcoming their specific challenges too. Services can also be tailored to support an individual when a broader change is required – if, for example, an entire sector of the economy was contracting.

Whether you need to provide genuinely effective outplacement services for your team members or require such a service yourself, the bespoke approach of redundancy counselling helps people feeling anger, feeling fear or feeling fine to seek out the most appropriate opportunities for the next stage in their careers.

* You can find out more about our associate Peter Wilford here and, if you would like to explore this theme in more detail, you can read his full article here.

For a conversation about career transition and outplacement services, you can contact PRS here.

Enabling Successful Outplacement and Career Transition

career transition

Embracing change as a positive

Change in the business world today is something that is expected as a norm and to be encouraged and extolled. It’s commonly realised that the world is changing faster than ever before and that those who remain stuck in their ways will be left behind. Businesses want to be the agile, evolving mammals not the lumbering dinosaurs. In this environment, it’s easy to be excited about changes in the world around you – changes to your own life and career can be a different matter though.

Most of us are not merely reconciled to, but have fully embraced the changing world and the opportunities it presents. Externally, we have learnt to identify, change and improve aspects of the business we are part of. With regards to our own roles within a business, we have become more comfortable with being flexible and more open to training and development. However, career transition itself can still seem a daunting prospect, particularly when it may be imposed as a result of restructuring of the business.

Don’t get left alone or lost in the crowd

If you or your staff are facing this prospect, you can take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. Career transition is part and parcel of the modern world and there are tangible ways to smooth the journey. Very few people now remain on a single career path, receiving a gold watch on retirement for their efforts. Adaptation and restructuring have made involuntary transition much more commonplace, as well as accepted by new employers, and increased connectivity brings an awareness of opportunities which leads many to make decisive changes themselves.

Of course, the downside to the increasing regularity of career transition is the growth of mass-market services which have grown to facilitate it. If there’s anything as bad as being alone, it’s being treated as a part of the faceless crowd. When it comes to transitioning your career, online tools, self-diagnostics, e-learning and other ‘one size fits all’ approaches aren’t always suitable for such a significant and personal step. Group seminars can provide useful information but cannot deliver the personalised service one would consider appropriate. We believe that one-to-one support is the most effective way to make the transition.

One-to-one career service

The significance of the moment requires a more individual approach. People Risk Solutions offer a package of one-to-one sessions for those undergoing career transition in order for our clients to take full advantage of the situation. Not only is this a time of change, it is an opportunity for growth and a chance to analyse your skills, behaviours and preferences – not only to secure your next appointment but to increase your effectiveness and happiness.

This is also a very personal process. There are bound to be emotions in play during a moment of transition, both positive and negative. Elation at a new challenge and excitement to be taking a new path may sit side by side with fear of the future or worry about self-worth. Talking through your options and ambitions with a specialist in a one-to-one setting allows you to focus on the positives and draw up a tailored career strategy.

Though career transition has become a more common occurrence, it remains a significant moment in anyone’s work life. It is a time for contemplation, but also a time for action. Using one-to-one sessions to talk though the process, and build positive plans for the future, allows you to extract the most value from this time of reflection and to decide on the best course of action for you and your career. To find out how PRS could help you to navigate a period of change, or to book a series of one-to-one career transition sessions, contact us here.