Why employees are calling the shots when it comes to outplacement

11 Jan 2018 By Sue Foxley

Savvy outgoing staff are increasingly asking for tailored support – and HR needs to be better prepared, says Sue Foxley

Outplacement provides employees who are leaving a company with practical career advice and coaching support to help them make their next move. Traditionally, it has been something the employer provides as part of a settlement agreement package to a departing employee.

But things are changing, with employees increasingly asking their employers for help with career transition and even funding an outplacement service out of their own pocket. There are three main issues HR teams face when it comes to outplacement:

1. HR professionals don’t think about outplacement early enough

Some departing employees will want financial support, while others will want practical help to find their next role. Financial compensation gives transitioning employees the time to think and temporarily reduces money worries. But it doesn't directly give them the confidence and expertise to find their next role.

Individuals who have received outplacement before are likely to ask about it during their consultation process. Outplacement often comes up in group consultation meetings, where you have an increased likelihood of at least one person in the room valuing it. Not making a provision for outplacement before starting consultations means HR teams risk facing the ‘what about outplacement?’ question during the process. This can result in having to provide an outplacement programme at pace that hasn’t been budgeted for. 

2. Employees are savvy about the job market

People know that finding jobs through personal networks and direct approaches can be more effective than going via recruitment agencies. Many employers have moved away from using agencies, placing a greater reliance on internal recruitment models. 

Outplacement consultants can support these sorts of direct applications by helping with cover letters, tailored CVs, and salary and benefits negotiations. Job advertisements of this nature often don't come with a salary, as organisations tend to be more flexible with the level of experience that they recruit.

3. Employees don't like to be cut adrift

Offering outplacement provides a link between your organisation and any departing employee. This means your relationship with leavers doesn’t end when they walk out of your office for the last time. 

Today, outplacement is about getting candidates prepared for the job market – on paper, in person and online. The CV is still important, but less so than previously, with many employers using the web to create a talent pool of suitable candidates. That means LinkedIn and other recruitment websites are key for jobseekers – but they aren’t always used as effectively as they can be.

Outplacement has matured as an industry in line with candidate requirements, and the best consultants can offer practical and emotional support. For consultants, just being a well-connected, experienced professional is not enough. They need to be a sensitive coach and confidant – patient and willing to help people build their confidence and self-esteem where necessary.

Sue Foxley is head of outplacement at Connor

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