HR & BusinessTalent Management

The delicate art of downsizing, or 10 reasons why good outplacement is indispensable

Why outplacement is indispensable

Once in a while, employers need to face the challenge of staff reduction in their companies and say goodbye to some of their employees. This is a natural process and there may be various reasons for lay-offs. What must be kept in mind, though, is that the situation is stressful for all parties involved. Both the employees who must leave the company and their employers feel stressed, especially when the market reality is insecure and has an influence on the decisions made. How to deal with this? The process of outplacement—a support programme for dismissed employees—should help. 

Outplacement – what is it and what are its benefits?

The average time of job hunting in the USA is clocking in at 5 months. A vast majority of dismissed employees would like their former employer to support them if they are made redundant due to downsizing. This is why outplacement has enjoyed so much publicity recently.

Outplacement is a system of supported or monitored lay-offs for the employees who have been given notice recently or have been unemployed for up to 6 months of dismissal. Outplacement is also designed for the employees who know they are going to be dismissed. This way, employers can help their employees in finding a new job quickly and in adapting to the new circumstances.

Interestingly, it is not just big international corporations that decided to introduce the outplacement service. Small companies introduce it more and more often as well. Some use their internal HR departments to do this, whereas others ask professional external outplacement firms for help.


Outplacement can be divided into two types:

1. Individual outplacement 

In this case, the needs of individual employees are taken into account. This type of outplacement often involves senior management staff and key specialists. This is a more expensive process, so not all companies can afford it. In individual outplacement, the employee cooperates with a consultant to analyze his or her strengths, areas of improvement, and career goals. Then, they prepare a resume and develop a job seeking strategy. The consultant helps define the employee’s profile. Sometimes, they organise a mock job interview and rehearse contract terms negotiations. 

2. Group outplacement 

In this case, outplacement embraces a group of dismissed employees. Since the number of participants is usually high, the process often takes the form of workshops with a consultant. This way, the employees learn methods of job searching, define their career goals, prepare for job interviews, and build a positive image of themselves.

Successful outplacement needs proper managing. Firstly, the strategy must be worked out. Then, the employees become familiar with the subject, the situation must be diagnosed accurately. Finally, the process must be summed up and evaluated. 


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What makes outplacement indispensable?

Many people keep wondering why one should implement outplacement. First of all, outplacement brings a lot of benefits to both the employee and the employer.

Below, you will find 10 reasons why good outplacement is the key. Let’s take a look at them!

  • Maintaining good atmosphere in the organisation

Downsizing may take a couple of months. This is a long period and the employer must ensure a good atmosphere in the company. The outplacement system will help with that. The dismissed employees will hold a good opinion of their former employer, and the employees who remain with the company will feel safe. To them, the employer will make an impression of a responsible, mature, and strong person who knows what to do if lay-offs are unavoidable and does not leave anyone to their own devices. Thanks to outplacement activities, the sense of anxiety in the company is reduced, and the people who keep their jobs, work more effectively. 

  • Building a positive image of the company 

The employers who introduce outplacement demonstrate to their clients and partners that they are responsible and do not leave anyone on their own. This way, they build a powerful image, proving that they can handle any difficult situation. 

  • Avoiding unnecessary costs 

The companies that make use of outplacement programmes receive fewer lawsuits than those that do not do so. Even if the case brought against the employer by a dismissed employee is a lost cause for the employee, the company has to pay the legal costs. These include representatives, the employees summoned by the court as witnesses. This all amounts to unnecessary expenses. This is why it is a better idea to invest this money in outplacement, which will bring more profits in the long term.

  • Improving relationships with trade unions 

When it comes to mass lay-offs, the employees who stay with the company begin to feel uncertain and worried and their performance levels drop. This can be prevented and, as mentioned before, their work comfort can grow. Even if the process of downsizing has already begun, the company can still implement outplacement. As a result, the company avoids strikes or other actions taken by the unions which can disrupt the operation of the organisation.

  • Dismissed employees have more time to adapt to the new situation 

Some companies offer training programmes and outplacement support even a year after the dismissal. The employees who leave the company should not pay for this support. Instead, they should be aided in adapting to the new situation. This programme gives them time to analyse their career path and choose a new line of development.

  • Dismissed employees will feel better 

Outplacement helps dismissed employees accept the new situation. As losing a job is never a nice experience, any support received in that time helps them feel calmer. And it’s not just about emotional support. Outplacement consists of a series of meetings and workshops which give the employees a chance to prepare better for job hunting, which usually make the hunt quicker. Outplacement experts claim that the employees who take part in this process land a new job faster, and it’s usually better than their former job! What’s more, companies which offer outplacement services often upload the participants’ CVs to their database, which is an additional source of potential employers. 

  • Reducing the risk of disclosing sensitive and confidential information 

It may happen that an embittered dismissed employee will make irrational and ill-judged decisions. Apart from the above-mentioned lawsuits, they may start to reveal confidential information, also to competition. Thanks to outplacement, the risk of such occurrences gets lower, as the dismissed employees are less likely to feel resentful. This way, the employer doesn’t need to worry about possible data breaches. 

  • “Free” advertisement

We live in the times of dynamic information dissemination. People working in various industries have their own thematic online chats or groups, where they can talk about the companies they work for. The employers who decide to introduce outplacement may be sure it will profit when they are looking for new employees. These will be more eager to apply to a company that is known to take care of dismissed employees and does not leave them alone in crisis. This way, outplacement becomes a marketing tool. 

  • Dismissed employees will discover their strengths 

Dismissed employees are often the weakest links in the company chain. This is often connected with their low self-esteem – they are prone to believing that they are good-for-nothing. When fired, they are likely to feel depressed and lost. However, outplacement solutions should help them find the right course. The consultants will help them discover their strong points which will make them feel valued and appreciated.

  • Outplacement is beneficial to all parties in the company

The best thing about outplacement is that it is beneficial to all parties: the employers, the employees who stay with the company, and the dismissed employees. Everyone will experience and appreciate the positive outcomes of the use of this tool.

Sometimes, it is necessary to part with an employee – every company has to go through that once in a while. If employers care for their employees, they should know what to do when the time to dismiss some members of the team comes. This is what makes a responsible and mature employer. The support provided for the dismissed employees will be beneficial not only to them but also to the whole company taking care of their future.

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