Outplacement – outdated or a chance to stand out?

In a buoyant job market, some would argue that outplacement and career transition support are no longer relevant. However, forward-thinking organisations continue to see these services as vital parts of a toolkit that supports ongoing business success – helping those people that may need to move on and proving value to future talent.

Outplacement isn’t new and, in a market where there is a clear candidate shortage, an abundance of jobs and lots of useful information available online, there is clear debate as to whether it is still wholly relevant.

However, as organisations continue to reshape their structures and review headcounts in line with changing market conditions or new technology, the reality is that outplacement should be a part of every modern organisation’s support kit for several reasons.

The physiological impact of redundancy

For some, being made redundant may secretly be a blessing in disguise. It’s an opportunity to take stock, form an action plan and start pursuing a career or a job that is truly fulfilling.

This, in itself, opens up a discussion on the importance of proactively managing your career to avoid being in such a situation. After all, no one should spend a significant portion of their week doing something they dislike.

However, these individuals aside, for many people redundancy remains one of the most stressful situations they will ever face – on a par with bereavement and moving house – so it’s important to never underestimate the impact being made redundant can have on the body and mind.

No matter how well an organisation treats departing employees, it’s difficult to avoid the shock, anger and sense of despair and rejection which are all recognised emotions during redundancy. Moreover, given that we are all different, the amount of time it takes individuals to overcome these emotions can vary considerably too.

Being left to go it alone doesn’t make it any easier – even with the abundance of information out there. In fact, information overload can often result in paralysis, as individuals don’t know where to start or what their next move should be.

Having specialist outplacement support available during this time of need means employees at the very least have someone they can turn to in their hour of need which can minimise confusion and significantly speed up transition to a more positive action-oriented mindset.

An expert guiding hand

Once people feel they are able to start contemplating a new future, more challenges lie around the corner.

As mentioned earlier, today’s job market is very much candidate driven – with an abundance of vacancies existing. However, for someone who may have been out of the job market for some time the prospect of searching for a new job can still be daunting.

Job titles, roles and required skills are continually changing so trying to find a similar type of role to what you had before isn’t always easy. In fact, for some, those roles might not even exist so an understanding of how they can transfer the skills they have to a new area becomes hugely important.

Add to this the increasingly automated and scientific nature of the job application process and the importance of providing outplacement support to individuals becomes even more evident. Without this help, applicants may fail to include key words or phrases in their applications or CVs and might find that they are filtered out from being considered for a job that they are more than qualified for.

Finding the perfect match

Once they start being considered for new roles, it can be tempting for an individual to go for the first available job or the first position offered. Amongst other things, it removes some of the immediate financial pressures that they may be under and makes them feel wanted again.

However, such knee jerk reactions are unlikely to result in a match made in heaven or lead to long-term career fulfilment.

This is where specialist assessment tools and coaching made available in outplacement programmes play a vital role. They help ensure individuals have a clear understanding of what’s important to them; helping them to identify the right role and type of organisation in which they can thrive in the longer term.

Supporting future talent acquisition

Alongside all of the positive outcomes for transitioning employees, it’s important not to overlook the long-term benefits that outplacement offers the organisation involved too.

Redundancy situations don’t happen in isolation. Often the companies involved will be hiring at exactly the same time as they look to reconfigure their talent pool in line with future ambitions or new challenges.

Even if this recruitment doesn’t happen at the same time as the redundancies, there will come a point in the future where resilient and ambitious companies will start to grow again and will seek to attract the best people they can.

With a deepening candidate shortage – the latest ONS figures show the UK employment rate is the joint-highest on record  – it can be a real fight to attract the best talent so organisations need to work hard to make sure they stand out for the right reasons.

Providing outplacement services to people who have been affected by organisational change is clear evidence of a company that it totally transparent, takes responsibility and cares about people. These are the types of employers that top talent will be more likely to join and stick with in the long term.

Putting people first

In conclusion, the fact that outplacement services have been employed by organisations for decades is testament to their continued relevance.

This specialist area has clearly evolved over time too. Outplacement now typically involves a complete package of services that harnesses the latest technology and includes up-to-the-minute advice on how to successfully find new roles.

Fundamentally, though, the very best providers haven’t lost sight of the fact that outplacement is still all about supporting people. Regardless of the circumstances that trigger change, it’s about an ability to help individuals find a way through emotionally challenging times.

And until we reach a point when all employees are replaced by robots, this element of outplacement support remains not just relevant, but absolutely invaluable.