Quick Guide to Selecting an Outplacement Provider
Growing skills gaps and talent scarcity are driving organizations to become laser focused on retaining valuable talent. In two separate studies, the employee experience was cited as a growing concern and key element to ensuring future business success. “The Active Job Seeker Dilemma” found that 83% of HR leaders say the “employee experience” is important to their organization’s success. Similarly, in a recent article in Forbes, HR influencer Jeanne Meister talked about the top trends driving HR departments and revealed that more companies are focusing on “creating a compelling employee experience as the war for talent heats up.”
The war for talent and other developing trends in the new Employee Relationship Economy have prompted employers to change focus and view the employment cycle from beginning to beginning, instead of beginning to end. The same trends that are creating organizational shifts from simply building businesses to building long-term relationships with employees, are playing a crucial role in the expansion of severance benefits -- including expanding outplacement, career transition, and redeployment offerings.
As companies and their employees scrutinize every aspect of the employee-employer relationship, it has become clear that choosing the right provider for HR services is as important as providing employees with the services they offer. As we enter Q4 and budgets and programs are under review, it may be time to rethink your outplacement solution and offerings. Here are a few quick tips for either assessing your current provider, or finding outplacement for the first time.
One-size-fits-all solutions rarely, if ever, work. In the new world of work, HR leaders are taking on the role of establishing and maintaining unique and authentic workplace cultures as defined by the employee-employer relationship, company goals, values, and stated mission. In this new environment, finding outside services that fit within the existing company culture has become critical to the success of the partnership.
When looking at outside providers, seek those companies that closely align their services and products to how your employees are already working. Be sure your business partners are willing to tailor their solutions to fit your business model, not the other way around. Adding outplacement and career transition services should complement your employee experience through a customized solution designed to meet your needs and the needs of your employees. If you are forced to make major changes to your business model, or consider the needs of the provider before making business decisions, take it as a sign that the whole process might appear inauthentic to your brand.
In addition to customizing programs and services to meet company needs, the most effective outplacement providers are dedicated to providing the most personalized and customized services to your transitioning employees.
While most outplacement providers match career coaches with participants based on location and availability, the most effective programs match coaches and job seekers based on industry knowledge, experience level, and participant requirements.
In traditional models, transitioning employees must rely on the career coach to provide all the outplacement services, including resume writing and aligning job leads to their preferences. Just as you wouldn’t ask the head coach to run batting practice, you shouldn’t expect a career coach to perform tasks best left to the area experts. Professional resume writers and job lead sources are the specialists who should be working with your transitioning employees to write resumes and hand select job leads based on each individual’s background, unique value proposition, and career goals alongside the career coach who is there to provide job search expertise and training.
It’s no longer enough to fill out a spread sheet with employee names and contact information and hope impacted employees get a job sometime in the future after involuntarily leaving your organization. There’s just too much at stake – especially in an environment where providing a positive employee experience and maintaining a stellar employer brand are among the top concerns for HR departments and the C-suite.
Now, more than ever, HR leaders need to track and analyze the progress of their transitioning employees and be able to measure the sentiment of alumni employees. Look for an outplacement provider who can deliver current, relevant data that will provide transparency and calculates the ROI on your outplacement investment with the results that matter, including satisfaction scores, landing rates, and activity levels.
If your employees don’t use the outplacement services you’ve provided, you are not protected against negative employee sentiment, future tax costs, or potential legal liability – the very reasons you contracted with an outplacement provider in the first place. Make sure your outplacement provider has services that mirror how your employees are already working, with a combination of technology for efficiency and personalized for empathy.
Before choosing an outplacement services provider, ask to see a demo of the technology provided as part of the solution. Beware of companies that talk about innovations that you can’t see, and technology solutions that can’t be quantified by results and statistics. Outplacement technology should augment core services for job seekers, and improve your ability to get the data you need -- when you need it.
It’s also important to recognize that outplacement, traditionally defined as support for employees leaving a business, has evolved to recognize the importance of improving productivity of remaining employees, retaining valuable employees through internal mobility, and ensuring future business success through ongoing partnerships with businesses.
Tip: When choosing an outplacement provider, look for one that offers services and programs that go beyond standard outplacement services, such as:
- Manager notification training
- Resiliency training for managers and surviving employees
- Redeployment solutions
- Retirement solutions
- Programs for employees seeking non-traditional avenues such as joining the gig economy or becoming an entrepreneur
- Alumni sentiment tracking
- Lower coach to program participant ratios
- A combination of high tech for efficiency and high touch for empathy
When strong technology is matched with hand-picked career coaches who are industry-experts, outplacement becomes extremely effective in helping employees land new jobs following a layoff. When employees land new jobs easily, it’s good for everyone. Employees who are left behind are less likely to remain unhappy and your brand is less likely to take a hit. Look for a provider that combines technology with a personalized approach.
When a layoff does occur, time is of the essence. If HR teams move too slowly during the separation process, they are at risk of damaging the employer brand, and losing the trust of remaining employees. Your outplacement partner should make the process simple and accelerate personalized services for employees in the case of a layoff. Waiting a week to get a call to start career transition services can feel like a lifetime to someone who needs a paycheck survive. Be sure your provider has systems in place to contact employees soon after notifications and that coaching and services are available within a couple of days following a layoff.
Don’t believe the hype if someone tells you results don’t matter. When your brand reputation and budgets are on the line, results are the only thing that matter. Find out how effective your outplacement provider has been in the past, to discover how effective they will be with your organization.
Some results to ask for, include:
- What percentage of participants land a new job during the program?
- What percentage of participants find jobs with equal or greater salaries than those they left?
- What is the average landing rate for program participants?
- What is your customer satisfaction rating?
As HCM Services and Solutions Industry Advisor Steve Goldberg says “any set of circumstances that can exacerbate a current business issue can also become a competitive advantage if managed well.” In his published report on “Key Outplacement Services Dimensions,” Goldberg addresses a long list of benefits outplacement can bring to companies. It can be increasingly difficult to cut through the jargon and hype that providers might create. Goldberg believes you can test the waters on business value by asking these four questions of outplacement services providers:
- In what ways, particularly meaningful or unique ways, does your offering promote heavy utilization by program participants?
- How do you optimally calibrate your mix of program elements to achieve a lower cost base for clients (relative to mostly brick-and-mortar operating vendors), yet higher effectiveness rates as measured by time-to-land?
- How do you scale your delivery model to potentially handle hundreds of displaced workers for a particular corporate client without resorting to generic, non-specific coaching, etc..
- What success metrics are you tracking and sharing with your clients?
Recently, RiseSmart surveyed over 450 U.S. human resources professionals, nearly 40 percent of whom where vice presidents and directions of HR to find out how their severance offerings have changed along with recent trends. We found that outplacement services are becoming more important to more organizations who are offering programs to more employees than ever before.
We are finding out from our customers, and from employers in all size organizations and industries around the world, that outplacement services--or lack thereof—play a significant role in talent management, brand reputation, and employee career transition success. As employers of choice continue to expand their programs to embrace an employee journey that doesn’t stop when team members move out of the organization, outplacement and job transition services take on greater importance. Choosing an outplacement and career transitions services provider that understands the employer-employee relationship as beginning to beginning will become crucial to future business success – as will finding one that embraces these three important tenets: