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What Is Outplacement and How Can Businesses Offer It?

Workforce reductions are often necessary, but they’re also costly and can impact your reputation. Outplacement can help preserve your reputation while assisting the departing employees. Find out how outplacement services work and how you can implement them as part of your severance package.

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Basics of outplacement

What is outplacement? Outplacement offers terminated employees several services to help them find a new job. The focus could be finding a similar position or gaining skills to transition to a new career field. Outplacement is a recruitment or headhunter service — it helps people find jobs on their own by improving their search skills.

What services are included with outplacement?

The specific services the employee receives can vary depending on the situation and goals of the person. Employees can get help finding a new job and making their resumes more appealing, or they might learn new skills to make them more employable. Some possible services include:

  • Skills assessments
  • Resume review
  • Resume writing and optimization to get past applicant tracking software
  • Optimized online profiles
  • Elearning tools to navigate the job search
  • Dedicated job coach to help throughout the job search
  • Interview prep

Benefits of offering outplacement

Outplacement services are beneficial to the departing employee and your company. Even though you’re spending money and resources on the services, it can help you ease the repercussions of layoffs or RIFs, which helps your reputation. Here are some benefits of outplacement:

  • Faster job offers: For the employee, outplacement can reduce the amount of time until they find a new job. That eases the financial strain of losing a job.
  • Increased success: With the skills gained through outplacement services, employees can perform better in their new positions.
  • Relationships: Receiving these services from your company can soften the blow to an employee who’s let go. It can reduce the negative remarks they say about your company, and they might be willing to come back to your organization in the future if you’re hiring again.
  • Reputation: Layoffs can hurt your brand, but offering robust severance packages, including outplacement, can reduce the impact and add a positive spin to the situation. It shows you care about your employees, even if you no longer have a position for them.
  • Retention: A bad layoff and offboarding experience can cause your remaining employees to consider searching for new employment so they don’t have the same experience. If they see you supporting the employees you lay off, they might be more likely to stay.

Internal vs. third-party outplacement

If you want to offer outplacement to your departing employees, you can handle the services internally or partner with a third-party provider. Outsourcing the services can save money and ease your HR department‘s workload. However, if you don’t anticipate needing to offer outplacement services often, your HR staff might be able to handle the workload.

Your former employees might also feel more comfortable working with an outside company. There could be hard feelings about being let go, so working with your HR staff could be difficult for them.

Third-party companies also have the correct experts in place and are ready to help. If you’re offering the services internally, you’ll need to ensure you have staff members who can help with various aspects of helping staff find a new job. You’ll also need to decide what to offer and organize the services.

Choosing a partner for outplacement services

Companies offering outplacement services vary significantly in the types of services they offer and format they use. A more traditional approach uses a job coach who meets with the displaced employee to help them gain employment. Some companies use a webinar approach with large groups of people, with some individualized services such as resume reviews.

When comparing providers, look at details such as:

  • In-person vs. virtual: Providers might offer in-person, virtual or both options for services. Only offering in-person services can limit accessibility, so choosing a service with the option of virtual coaching gives your employees more flexibility.
  • Term limits: Some companies limit how long they offer outplacement services. If the employee doesn’t find a job in that timeframe, they’re on their own. Look for a company that doesn’t have a term limit to ensure your former employees get the assistance they need.
  • Reporting: Look for an outplacement service provider that reports back to you once an employee is done with their services. This allows you to see if your money was well-spent and helps you measure your ROI.
  • Reputation: Check the online reviews for the outplacement service you’re considering to ensure it’s a high-quality, reputable company.
  • Variety of services: Explore the services available, and find out how much customized support clients get from the company. Programs that tailor the coaching to each client are often more effective and can help clients find new jobs faster.
  • Experience: A high-quality service employs experts in different aspects of the career search process. For example, they might have a professional resume writer on staff rather than have a general career coach that isn’t an expert on resumes. Find out what experience the coaches and other staff members have to ensure your former employees get effective support.
  • Price: As the employer terminates an employee, you’re responsible for paying for the service. Compare the pricing of various services to see which one best fits your budget. Avoid going with a super cheap company just to save a little cash if it doesn’t offer quality services.

When evaluating a prospective outplacement service, look for proof of their success. Case studies and demos of their services can give you an idea of what to expect from the company.

Setting up internal outplacement

If you prefer to handle outplacement internally, create a written plan that details the program, including the services you’ll offer and how you’ll execute them. Follow these steps to set up the program:

  1. List specific services you’ll offer, such as career coaching, resume writing and interview prep.
  2. Determine who will facilitate these services. The staff members involved should have experience in the specific services.
  3. Create a schedule for the services. For example, you might schedule an initial consultation where a career coach performs an interest assessment with additional sessions scheduled based on what the person needs.
  4. Establish a tracking and documentation process to record the details of the sessions and the services each person receives. This helps you monitor progress and track the success of your program.

No matter how you offer outplacement services, providing this option to employees can be beneficial to both parties.

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