Why You Need an Outplacement Strategy: Preparing For Staff Lay-Offs in the Wake of Coronavirus

With novel coronavirus (COVID-19) now at the pandemic stage, Australian businesses find themselves in uncharted waters around how this unprecedented global outbreak will impact the workforce.

Rapidly growing market uncertainty and the fall-out of isolation and quarantine being felt across the supply chain mean employers and HR directors must now face the very real likelihood of staff cut-backs over the coming months.

In these uncertain times, those organisations who are prepared for retrenchment will be the ones who ultimately come through with minimal damage - and that’s where an effective outplacement strategy can make all the difference.

From minimising brand damage to keeping surviving staff members engaged and loyal, here’s why you need to be engaging in professional outplacement services for outgoing employees.

Effective outplacement can protect your brand reputation

While coronavirus may be hitting the headlines, the last thing you want is for your organisation to make the news (or the local gossip mill) for all the wrong reasons - such as a disgruntled former employee venting their frustrations over the lack of support they received during the retrenchment process.

Whether it’s a social media rant or verbally shared frustrations, the damage can be quick, widespread, and result in a negative perception of your brand in the eyes of customers, business associates, vendors, and the general public.

How outplacement services can help:

Offering outplacement services to employees following retrenchment or redundancies can foster a much more favourable impression and greatly reduce the risk of them disparaging your brand.

In fact, research conducted by Career365 revealed that 95% of people would have felt “far less inclined” to post adverse comments about their former employees had they been offered an outplacement program.

Offering outplacement services helps you become an Employer of Choice

Employer rating websites such as Glassdoor and Seek make it oh-so-simple for people to anonymously leave feedback about their former employer. And, as we pointed out above, unhappy employees are much more likely to take to their keyboards and leave a negative review in retaliation for a lack of care and support.

The real kicker is when talented job seekers turn to these sites to research your brand - only to be met by negative reviews focusing on your poor treatment of a former staff member. Hardly the behaviour of an ‘Employer of Choice’.

How outplacement services can help:

By supporting your retrenched employees and proactively assisting them through their career transition, you’ll be more likely to maintain a healthy brand image and be viewed favourably by departing staff members.

Outplacement can, therefore, help to preserve the talent pipeline, as well as helping you become an Employer of Choice to prospective employees by demonstrating a good track record across the employee life cycle.

An outplacement program increases the chance of former employees returning

While your short-term focus may be on the need to let go of staff, once the coronavirus dust has settled and the markets recover, you may face a need to refill positions. If so, it makes sense to seek out your already-skilled alumni staff to reduce onboarding time and investment.

But, if you failed to provide support in the form of an outplacement program, the chances are these former employees will have left with a bad taste in their mouth, making them loathe to return to an organisation that failed to support them upon their departure.

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How outplacement services can help:

By demonstrating your level of care and commitment to outgoing employees via a supportive outplacement program, you’ll increase the willingness of these former staff members to return.

Offering outplacement services makes it more likely your previous employees will leave with a positive impression and will be open to becoming ‘boomerang employees’.

Offering outplacement sends a positive message to existing employees

  • In these times of heightened fear and anxiety, people tend to be hypersensitive to changes in their environment - and the workplace is far from an exception. So it stands to reason that if existing employees see their colleagues being shafted without support or assistance, this could lead to panic, anger, and plummeting levels of engagement.

Failing to provide an outplacement program or support staff in their career transition sends a message to surviving staff members that they too will face a lack of support should they be retrenched or made redundant in the future.

How outplacement services can help:

Offering outplacement services to departing employees demonstrates your commitment to upholding your brand values at every stage of the employee life cycle.

By treating former employees with respect and extending adequate support in the form of an outplacement program, existing staff members will be reassured that they too will be supported in the event of retrenchment or redundancy.

Outplacement services help to keep your business compliant

While it would be somewhat cynical to suggest that outplacement can be a box-ticking exercise, the fact is that compliance is a key consideration, particularly in these uncertain and rapidly changing times.

Should you fail to provide effective outplacement support via an outplacement program, you may leave yourself open to unwanted legal implications.

How outplacement services can help:

Helping former employees navigate their career transition via an outplacement program can cover you against the risk of potential lawsuits and avoid the awarding of hefty damages.

Outplacement services will help to ensure your organisation has ‘ticked the boxes’ when it comes to your legal obligations and compliance requirements, while also doing the right thing by your former staff member.

Next Steps in Creating an Outplacement Strategy

If you’re looking to engage in professional outplacement services, Career365 can help. We specialise in outplacement programs designed to support your outgoing employees and protect your brand.

What’s more, our outplacement programs are delivered remotely, via online training modules and video-based coaching - meaning we can provide these services to those in self-isolation if required.

To find out more about our affordable outplacement programs, visit www.career365.com.au

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