Companies Take the Sting Out of Lay Offs through Outplacement

Originally published on March 2, 2019

Until a few years ago, many people thought that being out of work was a sign of personal failing: “Hmmm, I wonder what he did? I wonder what happened?” Now, being in a job transition comes with less stigma attached — and, with the delivery of outplacement services, less anxiety.

In these times of workforce restructuring and layoffs, companies use outplacement services to assist their laid-off employees. It’s a practice offered by a growing number of companies to benefit terminated employees and help them find new jobs. The employer may provide the service directly, or it may contract with a third-party supplier to provide the outplacement services.

Appropriately, outplacement focuses first on the respectful management of people’s exit from an organization. Often, organizations must let go of employees for a number of reasons, and managing these processes is crucial not only in caring for the person’s dignity, self-esteem and reputation in the market, but also to put those staying in the organization at ease by knowing, “If it’s my turn one day, management will do it respectfully.”

The outplacement process also helps employees who’ve been let go to reposition themselves in the market with great care for their personal brand. First, it helps them to get back on their feet emotionally in a more effective way than if they were cast out on their own. It then helps them to understand the current challenges and demands of the job market, and how to raise their level of employability so that they can reposition themselves quickly for this new reality. They may even decide to start their own business and will receive advice on how to do so.

In this way, what was once a disturbance in their professional career now becomes an opportunity to analyze their professional life and rethink their objectives. Being unemployed without support or help is not only difficult and lonely but may lead someone to take any job that’s offered instead of one that offers the right combination of challenge and fulfillment in the long term.

We all need to understand that companies are constantly letting employees go. It’s wrong to think that every dismissal is due to an employee’s incompetency. That’s no longer the case! Nor is it true that more dismissals take place in lean years. On the contrary, growth brings more transitions within companies.

Fortunately, many companies now carry out dismissals in a respectful manner at all levels. By offering their own or hiring companies to provide outplacement services, the process can be managed professionally and the impact on employees’ morale is minimalized. Above all, these outplacement services benefit terminated employees — whether executives, managers or front-line employees — by helping them make an effective career plan, increase their level of employability and find a new job or successfully start a business as quickly as possible. Outplacement can even help those ready to retire.

What’s the benefit to companies using outplacement services? They are numerous. Outplacement is a way for the company to thank the loyal employees who worked for them, but who had to be dismissed for any number of reasons. It virtually “cleans” the dismissed employee’s name and personal brand by communicating to the market that the person has done nothing wrong, and has been a valuable employee. It can represent a seal of approval for the dismissed employee out in the job market. Outplacement also sends a positive and reassuring message to the people who remain with the organization. They understand that, as part of the company’s Human Resources strategy, it treats employees well when they’re let go. This is a very useful message for retaining and attracting talent.

About the author: Ines Temple is president of LHH Peru and Chile, the leading career transition and talent-development organizations in both countries, and she has provided outplacement services and HR consulting to executives and other workers throughout the world. She has published over 800 articles and videos on topics such as the new world of work, personal branding, and employability. Her book, You, Incorporated: Your Career Is Your Business (Usted S.A.), has been a top bestseller among business books in Peru since 2012 and is now available in English.

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