Even the most experienced HR specialists admit that workforce reductions are the most stressful part of their job. There are some ways to reduce the level of negativity on both sides of the process, and one of them is outplacement. In the world of the New Normal, more and more companies decide to implement remote outplacement. Can it bring the same results as traditional outplacement?
What is outplacement? In a nutshell: outplacement is a process of aiding a dismissed employee in finding new employment. Its scope is determined by the internal policy of the company; it might involve one person or a group of employees. Sometimes, outplacement is reduced to consultations, but it often comprises other forms of active support, such as meetings with coaches and psychologists, networking, and giving recommendations. The benefits of this process are bilateral.
Outplacement – the benefits for the organisation
In the times of VUCA, outplacement has become an important tool of employer branding. By organising outplacement, companies can show that they care for their employees and that they are consistent with their values and CSR policy. This message will reach not only the dismissed persons but also potential candidates and clients as well as the employees who stay with the company. In the case of the latter, outplacement can successfully reduce their dissatisfaction levels and fear of being laid off. Psychologists refer to this set of symptoms at the survivor syndrome. If the company fails to do anything to reduce the negative impact of lay-offs, the remaining employees may end up feeling distrust and aversion towards their employer and, in result, their engagement drops, they leave the company, and financial losses are inevitable. Therefore, it is a good idea to learn how to avoid that.
Instability. This is the most accurate word to describe the present situation in the labour market. The number of job offers is decreasing and employers change their requirements concerning employees: they expect not only the ability to work from home efficiently but also greater flexibility when it comes to the form of employment and better use of their talents. And this still may not be enough. Companies are bracing for downsizing, although the recent studies (as of August 2020) have shown that staff reductions in the times of the pandemic have taken place at only 4% of the companies surveyed. Most employers declare that lay-offs are the last resort. The situation is changing rapidly, though, and experts claim that the worst crisis is yet to come. Hence, companies must prepare for the worst-case scenario by developing internal procedures of employee support if it comes to workforce reduction.
Outplacement for the new times
The HR departments which are responsible for outplacement have a hard nut to crack in the times of the pandemic and remote work. Most procedures must be adapted to the new reality; they need to take exceptional, unpredictable circumstances into consideration. This is why it is good to have a working solution at hand which can be used whenever necessary. This solution is remote outplacement, available through an online platform for employees: comprehensive and adjustable to the needs of a given organisation. Employees should have access to the platform in any circumstances. The use of e-learning tools in the difficult moments of restructuring can ensure the sense of safety at all levels.
Remote outplacement vs. traditional outplacement
The greatest advantage of remote outplacement is the possibility of running remote HR processes. Its thematic range may be similar to or even larger than in the case of traditional outplacement. This is because remote outplacement is not limited by the budget and a fixed time frame – employees can choose from a long list of subjects and spend as much time as they want to on a given issue. Besides, it is available at once – and there is no time to lose. In the situation of crisis and job loss, this is crucial. Obviously, the lack of direct contact with a counsellor or a coach may be challenging, and yet, most online courses are interactive and engaging.
Knowledge which can’t be found anywhere else
Another great advantage of remote outplacement is its wide thematic scope. It includes psychological support and counselling at each stage of the process of coming to terms with change. Employees can take part in programmes which may involve the following subjects:
- Self-management in the face of change – e.g. learning how to cope with emotions and how to explain your reasons for leaving the company to your co-workers.
- How to plan your budget considering the period when you’re out of work?
- Creating a list of your skills and qualifications and learning how to use them in the process of job seeking.
- How and where to look for a new job?
- Evaluation of your career and planning your future.
- How to prepare resumes and cover letters?
- How to prepare for job interviews?
It must be emphasised that these are not just bits and pieces of information that can be found on many HR websites. In fact, they are solid development tools: insightful and complex, prepared by experts and based on their long experience.
Choose what’s best for your employees
Is traditional outplacement a thing of the past now? Not really, although safety measures aiming to limit direct contact may remain with us for months – or years – to come. Traditional outplacement has many advantages in itself. From the chance of free exchange of ideas and information among the participants, to the possibility of customising the process. Its costs, however, are too high, which is why it is usually applied to selected senior managers. This exclusivity does not have a positive impact on the morale of other employees. Any negligence in this respect may bring painful outcomes. After all, regular employees are the greatest driving force of any organisation. If lay-offs are inevitable, the employer must make sure the message delivered to employees is consistent: yes, we need to reduce costs but we also care about your future.
Thus, the choice between remote and traditional outplacement should be a strategic decision: well-though-out and properly announced. This way, it will help not only the employees who leave the company but also the whole organisation. Remote solutions have a number of strengths, and safety is one of the greatest. What’s more, remote outplacement is based on excellent, carefully prepared tools which provide access to knowledge, motivate, and encourage employees to assume responsibility for the process of job searching. Last but not least, they can successfully eliminate the negative effects of downsizing.
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