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Employer Attitudes to Outplacement

Between March 2012 and May 2013 I met with many Heads of HR and peer C-Suite executives across Sydney and Melbourne. For those that are unaware, these are the two main commercial cities of Australia.

During that time, I polled many of them on their attitudes to outplacement and career transition support.

The sample size was made up of 80 Heads of HR. All are from the private sector and employ at least 500 people.

Here are the top line statistics:

  • 95% of Heads of HR believed it was the right thing for employers to look after the employees they were letting go.
  • 75% of employers offered outplacement to departing senior level employees.
  • 10% offered outplacement to all levels of staff, regardless of level.
  • 80% of employers provided some form of outplacement, primarily doing so as it 'ticked the box'.
  • The 90% who did not offer outplacement or career transition support to all staff did not do so, because the cost of those programs was too high as a percentage of the departing employees’ employment cost.
  • 85% of outplacement offered for senior staff ranged between 1 – 3 months.
  • 80% of outplacement services for lower level staff lasted up to 1 month.

What does this mean?

CareerSupport365 | Employer Attitudes to OutplacementIt is probably no surprise that the provision of career transition support has traditionally remained the preserve of the upper middle and senior level departing employee. The majority of those who are offered outplacement are paid upwards of $90,000 per annum.

The vast majority of Heads of HR place a high value on the duty to care for employees they are letting go.

However the upfront costs of engaging outplacement are perceived as high. Regardless of the value of treating employees well, and doing the right thing, the business typically found it hard to justify the cost of engaging the services of an outplacement firm – and therefore did not do so.

Research shows that it has somewhat been the exception for employers to offer outplacement to all staff. (Note: The companies that did so were in the financial services, telecommunications, and high-end professional services sectors.)

It would appear that executives responsible for the financial results of the company drive the decision to offer career transition support over and above the human aspects - and make those decisions based mostly on the upfront cost-benefit of doing so.

Another way of looking at career transition support

CareerSupport365 | Employer Attitudes to OutplacementThe increasing prevalence of web sites, such as glassdoor.com and vault.com, mean that former employees have an opportunity to rank their former employer. Regardless of the role they held upon leaving, an Admin Clerk or a CMO carry the same weight on these web sites.

In a separate CareerSupport365 survey across 492 people who recently lost their jobs, we found that 89 percent of those laid off employees said they would have felt ‘much more positive’ towards their employer had their former employer provided them with outplacement or career transition support.

The online impact of ‘peeved’ former employees venting their feelings about their former employers and damaging an employer brand is greater today than ever before. And this risk will increase as these so called online complaints departments grow in numbers, penetration across the population and influence.

That a majority of employees would feel better towards their former employer with more than just receiving a pay out, and that glassdoor.com and other sites exist, strongly suggests there is a case for Heads of HR to push the point of offering outplacement to all employees being let go.

CareerSupport365 believes that this is the case and can also deliver outplacement to all employees at a cost in hundreds of dollars per person, which lasts for 365 days.

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Greg Weiss is the Founder of CareerSupport365. Learn more about Greg Weiss here.

Email Greg Weiss via gregw@careersupport365.com