Outplacement: 5 ways to future proof your business uncertain times

At a glance, “outplacement services” means providing career support to outgoing employees – usually in the form of third-party programs, most often after:

a)   an employee has been made redundant (in 90 per cent of cases)

b)   let go after failure to thrive following a performance improvement program (in 5 per cent of cases), or

c)   let go plainly because of poor hire and fit (in 5 per cent of cases).

But there’s also a hidden depth of meaning that outplacement services have for an employer’s reputation.

In fact, there are five ways that offering outplacement services to outgoing employees can provide damage control.

1. Outplacement services mean the talent pipeline is preserved

Despite having a non-disparagement clause in their severance packages, many people still rate their former employer on websites like Glassdoor and Seek anonymously. And when people are hurting from being asked to move on, the negative rants they post pose a big reputational problem to employers.

Websites like Glassdoor and Seek hold enormous sway with the well-connected and informed Millennial. So, when prospective employees are considering two organisations, they might look to sites like this to find out what an employer is “really” like. Any negative reviews are going to impact the talent pipeline of the employer because prospective employees are going to be put off by them.

But outplacement programs are proven to help mitigate any negative feelings former employees have and make it 90 per cent less likely they will post these rants online.

2. Outplacement services protect your brand reputation

But, protecting your reputation as an employer, isn’t just about maintaining the pipeline for new talent. It’s also about how you appear in the public eye.

It makes good business sense to do everything possible to prevent people from speaking ill of your brand – especially in today’s world where social impact is so prevalent. People talk and it doesn’t take much for bad news to reach business partners, vendors and customers alike: whether that’s online media, social media or just plain old-fashioned gossip.

The good news is, Career365 research found that “95 percent of people would have felt ‘far less inclined’ to post adverse comments about their own former employers,” if offered an outplacement program.

At the first meeting with a new participant in our outplacement program, I always give kudos to the employer. I explain to the employee that their former employer is being immensely helpful in providing the support they aren’t legally required to, thereby helping to reinforce the employer’s reputation.

3. Providing outplacement services improves chances with alumni or boomerang employees

Imagine your company let too many people go when faced with a downturn. And you suddenly needed to refill your staffing capacity.

Where would you turn?

You’d probably like to go back to your former employees first (the alumni).

Why?

Because it’s a faster learning curve, and there’s a lower onboarding investment.

If treated well when let go, and put through an outplacement program, they are more likely to return to your organisation, and become a ‘boomerang employee’. When outplacement programs help employees leave with a positive impression, it’s good for them, but it’s also good for the future hiring prospects of the employer.

4. Outplacement services mean existing employees stay engaged

Bottom line – no-one wants to see former colleagues treated unfairly. If treated well, via an outplacement program, this mitigates damage to the brand and the employer’s reputation with current employees.

They’ll feel like the employer approached the situation as fairly as possible and are confident that they would be treated equally as well should the circumstances ever arise.

5. Providing outplacement services helps you be an employer of choice

For this point, let’s consider how the legal industry hires. For example, legal firms may choose to hire the top 20% of students. But, if one of the firms doesn’t have a good track record across the entire employee life cycle, those “cream of the crop” students may not be interested in working with them.

After all, it’s not just about the onboarding process and how employees are treated throughout their employment, it’s also about what goes on at the backend if things don’t work out. Using outplacement programs means prospective employees know they will be looked after at all stages of their employment and they’ll want to work for you.

Why not protect your reputation before it takes a hit? Offering outplacement programs to outgoing employees means proactively managing not just how they see you, but how your existing employees and the rest of the world does too.

Greg Weiss has authored 2 books about career transitioning and is soon to release a third. He has deep expertise in outplacement and employee onboarding. He is the Founder of Career365 (formerly CareerSupport365) is a leading Australian employee transitioning firm, specialising in outplacement and employee onboarding.