Most of us are familiar with how outplacement can assist those being affected by a reduction in force (RIF) or a smaller scale layoff. Employees can utilize outplacement services to complete a skills assessment, develop a resume, begin looking for new job opportunities and receive help in developing public statements about their departure from an organization. What is less well-known is the value offering outplacement can bring to the company.
This recession is affecting business across industry lines, and many companies are being forced to lay off workers. Whether an organization is letting go 10 or 1,000 people, providing outplacement can provide significant value — not just to the individuals being affected, but to the company as well. In fact, the benefits of outplacement can outweigh the costs. Of course when the economy is stalled and companies are looking for ways to cut costs, outplacement may seem like a luxury. Why pour capital into departing employees when you could invest in those who are staying and initiatives to move the company forward? By investing in outplacement, organizations are not only helping those who have been laid off leave with dignity, they are also investing in the future of their organization.
Here are some ways offering outplacement services can benefit organizations. It can:
PROVIDE A COMPLETE RIF STRATEGY
Outplacement consultants can develop a plan for carrying out all aspects of a layoff including coordinating the day-of events and services, and creating strategies for handling the critical days before and after. It is best if the team comes in early so it can provide the most value.
Outplacement professionals can support managers, leaders and management teams throughout the process. Managers are not always familiar with how best to break the news of a layoff, how to inform those who are affected, or even how to reassure and motivate their remaining team or department members. The outplacement team can give managers the tools they need to endure the layoff process and help their own teams recover and move on.
RE-RECRUIT CURRENT EMPLOYEES
A RIF can often leave employees shaken and unsure of their futures with the company. They may be left wondering, “Am I next?” Leadership can utilize outplacement strategies to communicate with employees to let them know where they stand, what the organization’s plans are for the future and how the company will support them. Employees will be better able to focus on their work today, if they aren’t preoccupied with thoughts of being laid off tomorrow.
RECRUIT FUTURE EMPLOYEES
The marketplace of potential future employees is watching during the layoff process, and will take note of how people are treated. If the RIF is bungled, the organization may have trouble competing for top talent when the economy rebounds.
Unfortunately, mishandling a layoff can sully even the most stellar reputation. Community-based organizations, such as banks and hospitals, also need to be cognizant of how their customers might react to a RIF. Public companies need to think of their shareholders. Outplacement professionals can coach company leaders in how to best support individuals so they can leave the company with their dignity intact — and the organization’s hard-earned reputation can stay unblemished as well.
CREATE A COMMUNICATIONS PLAN
Employees will be more trusting and productive during difficult times if they can rely on regular and honest communication from leadership. When employees know that leadership is promoting open dialog about a RIF (and its fallout), they can take their focus off office rumors, and put it back on work. Outplacement teams can help management institute multiple forms of communication — both formal and informal — including staff meetings, town hall-style meetings, email messages, informational coffees and frequent walks around the office to answer employees’ questions. Outplacement consultants can also help develop a media strategy to determine if and how a public statement should be made.
Outplacement teams can also help mitigate other risks, such as IT, financial, legal, violence and even public relations threats. Undergoing a layoff can leave companies vulnerable, so risks should be minimized to ensure the health of the organization.
LOOK TOWARD TO THE FUTURE
Often, leadership teams are so focused on the day of the layoff, they don’t plan for what will come after. How will the organization regroup, move forward, and maintain or redefine the culture, mission and goals? An outplacement team can develop strategies and tactics to help the organization focus on what comes next.
It may be tempting in the face of a financial crisis for organizational leaders to consider cutting outplacement services, but it will be costly in the long run. Bringing on a team of outplacement professionals will help to ensure organizational resilience. A layoff can be a devastating event for a company, but with the proper planning and strategy, the organization can come out on the other side and begin to rebuild a bright future.
This article was provided to Career Partners International by Elaine Varelas in Boston, MA.