What is outplacement? Who uses it? What’s the human element? How does technology fit in? How did it begin and how has it evolved? How does RiseSmart compare to its competitors? John Sumser, principal analyst at HRExaminer and Karin Bootsma, VP marketing at RiseSmart explore these, and other questions around human capital management on the HRExaminer Executive Conversations Podcast. Listen to the podcast in its entirety here.

To give you a flavor of the podcast, here are 5 highlights from Karin and John’s lively conversation.

#1 The evolution of outplacement

Outplacement has its roots in post-World War II America where people who didn’t have a job felt shame and often hid their unemployment from friends and family. To provide the support that transitioning employees needed at that time, traditional outplacement firms opened offices so individuals could get dressed for work and go to an office to look for a job. The outplacement provider would provide group coaching sessions and individuals had access to a typewriter and a telephone.

Fast-forward to today and those outplacement organizations that established their business model back then haven’t changed that much. “RiseSmart has really disrupted this industry by delivering service virtually, so it’s instant, it’s quick, immediate for people to get going. Even a week delay in getting started can be quite impactful for people,” stated Karin.

According to Karin, “34% of Americans have absolutely no savings whatsoever set aside for emergencies. A layoff is one of the three most disruptive things in people’s lives, according to research – after death and divorce.”

#2 The stigma of unemployment and the need for best practices

The notification period of a layoff event is stressful for the transitioning employees as well as for the managers delivering the notifications. To make the process as stress-free as possible, it’s important to provide the right training for managers prior to the event. Layoffs can be an emotional event for those impacted by the layoff, the managers giving the notifications, and those remaining at the company. Karin recommends following these three best practices:

  • Plan the communication
  • Provide the proper training for managers
  • Offer outplacement services to get people back to work quickly

Planning the communication before the layoff ensures that everyone in the company is delivering the same message. Managers and HR teams should be prepared to deliver messaging with empathy and understanding. Having scripted responses in place gives individual leaders a way to speak to employees without the anxiety of trying to figure out what to say and how to answer questions.

Manager notification training takes the guess work out of notification day logistics – such as finding a place that provides enough privacy for people to express their emotions and take the time to compose themselves before facing their colleagues.

“The more planning HR can do, the better the whole transition will be for the impacted person given the emotional rollercoaster they will experience over the next days, weeks, or months,” suggests Karin. “That brings us back to the importance of acting quickly and getting people back on their feet and providing them transition assistance to give them a soft landing – so they don’t feel completely lost.”

#3 The RiseSmart solution

“We’ve really embraced our mission, which is one of outcome-driven career transition with a focus on the results as much as the journey,” said Karin in response to John’s questions about RiseSmart. She went on to explain RiseSmart’s unique approach to outplacement and career transition. “Because the industry historically focused on grief counseling and workshops, our mantra is personalized services,” she explained.

Each person that goes through our program is assigned three people: a dedicated coach available anytime, a resume writer who will focus on personal and professional branding, and a job concierge that hand picks jobs – a service that goes above and beyond what you can find on job boards.

We also have a technology component. One of our platforms, Spotlight™, is where our participants can go to get information and job search tips as well as webinars. Spotlight uses our SmartMatch™ technology to help participants find their own jobs using our semantic technology.

We have a separate platform, Insight™ that provides HR teams with visibility into what happens when their employees leave the company. With Insight, HR teams can see how quickly their employees are transitioning to new jobs and how they feel about the impact event and their experience with our outplacement services. Given this information, HR can make decisions about how to improve their processes and calculate the ROI on their outplacement investment.

Included in Insight is the Alumni Sentiment Rating – a sort of net promoter score that allows HR departments to keep a pulse on how people are feeling about the company post-layoff and to make decisions to help protect the employer brand.

According to Karin, companies are starting to realize that technology alone is not the answer. Today, talent acquisition, recruiting, and outplacement companies are offering solutions that blend technology and human elements.

“At RiseSmart we have phenomenal technology for HR as well as for the people that we help, but we also have that human layer to help people in their transitions,” explained Karin.

“I don’t think anybody else has that level of data about what happens to people when they are let go. That seems pretty important,” comments John.

#4 The employee experience

“You were talking about the employee experience and being about to understand that better. Will you tell me a little bit more about that?” John asked.

“Because transitions have become such a natural part of the work environment, we feel that employers should embrace transition and recognize that a workforce that’s bonded by strong company culture means that their former employees will become brand ambassadors, or reference for customers, recruiters, cheerleaders, and all those functions,” explained Karin. “So, if you accept that as true, we believe that these relationships will make or break the leaders of the future, which is why we see an employee relationship economy on the rise and one where we think HR stewardship is critical.”

As the work environment continues to change, employees need to build trust and treat employees with dignity, and respect – providing the right transition support is part of that. Employers need to demonstrate that they not only provide growth and development opportunities during the employee’s tenure with the company, but they also provide the transition assistance out of the company that will leave the door open for individuals to return as an employee, customer, or recruiter for the organization.

#5 Outplacement, redeployment and mobile workforces

According to Karin, “In today’s day and age, all companies are going through transitions. The inflow and outflow of talent is accelerating. Whether people are moving out of a company or through a company, we help them – we focus on redeployment as well.”

Even when individuals are transitioning into different roles within the company, they still need the career coaching, interview training and personal branding services traditionally reserved for those employees leaving the organization. A lot of companies are focused on internal mobility because there is so much institutional knowledge that existing employees possess about the culture of the company, the industry, and the business itself. Offering organizations a way to redeploy their talent into different roles reduces the costs associated with lost productivity, layoffs, recruitment, and onboarding.

Early in the podcast, John noted that in the outplacement industry, providers are dealing with people and their lives in transition. In response, Karin noted, “I think companies are starting to realize that technology alone is not the answer. The answer is really in perfect blend between technology and the human element.” When your business is making sure people are able to find and land a job to support themselves, their families, and the community, there is a lot of responsibility to provide the best services and to personalize the process. You can listen to more of Karin and John’s conversation on HRExaminer Executive Conversations, here.