When unemployment rates are low, companies often place their focus on attracting new hires, not on preparing for potential layoffs. That means some companies put off investing in important employee benefits that are often associated with reductions in force—such as outplacement support to help exiting workers find new jobs.
But outplacement support offers companies key advantages even in times of strong economic growth. After all, outplacement support benefits not just departing employees but also the companies providing the service—at all points of the employment cycle. By offering outplacement, companies are able to better attract new hires and retain key talent as well as leave exiting employees with a positive impression of their former employer.
Even when layoffs are the main reason for investing in outplacement support, companies should put this employee program in place well before layoffs are expected to occur. Waiting until a reduction in force is imminent before looking into outplacement services makes for unnecessary scrambling during times of stress. What goes down must also come up—and the unemployment rate is no exception to that rule. Forward-thinking companies know to plan for inevitable shifts in the marketplace, as an economic downturn can happen unexpectedly.
Here are four reasons why companies should invest in outplacement support in today’s market:
Attract and retain great talent
In a tight hiring market, companies have to compete to attract key talent. Including outplacement services in your employee benefits package can be an effective way to differentiate your company from the competition. It’s a benefit candidates appreciate. In fact, in Intoo’s 2015 Workplace Flexibility Study, an impressive 71% of job seekers said they are likely to choose a company that offers outplacement over a company that does not.
Outplacement also helps retain valuable talent. Often, one or two employee departures—whether voluntary or due to a termination or layoff—can trigger more departures and result in higher turnover rates. This phenomenon is so well-known that there’s even a term for it: turnover contagion.
But turnover contagion can be curbed. One study published in the Academy of Management Journal found that “perceived supervisor support and perceived organizational support have been demonstrated to positively predict levels of on-the-job embeddedness.” Basically, employees are less likely to leave a company if they feel supported by their supervisor and company at large.
One way to improve employees’ sense of support is by providing outplacement services. When exiting employees are treated well and given opportunities to transition smoothly to new positions, remaining employees take note of that support. By offering all employees outplacement services, your company can acknowledge that people today will likely change jobs many times—and show support for their long-term careers beyond their tenure with your company. This can improve company culture and, correspondingly, employee loyalty.
Improve brand reputation
Although the unemployment rate may be low in today’s market, turnover rates are quite high, especially in the technology and retail sectors. This means that even when your company is not going through a reduction in force, it’s still important to skillfully manage and support the employees that are leaving your company for other reasons.
Maintaining a positive brand reputation is crucial to attracting new employees. Intoo’s Employer Branding Studyrevealed that 75% of job seekers consider an employer’s brand before even applying to a job, with 62% of visiting social media channels to evaluate employer brand.
The impression potential job seekers get from those social media channels are heavily impacted by the opinions of your former employees. At the time of departure, many employees share their opinions about their former companies on Glassdoor or through social media reviews. By offering outplacement services, companies can increase the chance that the departing employees leave with a more positive impression.
Of course, those employees who are leaving because they already have another job offer in hand will not need the service. But for those leaving for other reasons—whether it’s due to a termination or a desire to explore new career directions—the support an outplacement program can provide may prove invaluable. Even disgruntled former employees may be dissuaded from leaving negative reviews if they’re given support to focus their attention and energy on finding a new position or career path that is a better fit.
Grow your customer base
Employees aren’t simply employees these days. They often also have other roles as customers, business referrers, and volunteer brand ambassadors for your company. This means that even when employment ends, the former employee’s other roles can continue—or not, depending on how their offboarding experience is handled.
By offering outplacement services, your company helps ensure that the relationship with departing employees remains positive. If they were customers of a company’s products and services, a positive offboarding process will increase the chance they remain customers. Should departing employees feel your company offered them crucial help when they needed it, they may be motivated to retain ties not just as individual customers but as business clients or partners, recommending your company to others and sending valuable referrals.
Prepare for inevitable economic shifts
Companies are often caught by surprise when the economy takes a downturn. But the cyclical nature of the market is something all companies should anticipate. In fact, many are already predicting that the economic outlook will shift soon. Bloomberg reported in June that “the chance of a recession over the next 12 months has risen to 30% from 25%, according to a June 7-12 survey of economists.”
Because it’s impossible to predict exactly when a recession will hit, preparation is key. One situation to be ready for is a reduction in force. Though unfortunate, layoffs are common and inevitable, as they happen not just when a company is experiencing difficulties but even when it’s expanding and growing. Some divisions may need to shrink or be eliminated altogether in order to allow for growth in other areas.
Many human resources professionals discover plans for reductions in force far too late to create a successful employee assistance program. Once plans for layoffs are in motion, it’s often a challenge to address all the legal concerns and prevent costly mistakes—let alone levelheadedly evaluate different outplacement services for their quality, effectiveness, and costs.
Selecting and investing in an outplacement service provider is a task best performed well before layoffs are imminent. Some questions to consider are:
- Does this outplacement program offer personalized services like one-on-one coaching?
- Is this program convenient to access for users? Are the services available online?
- How successful is this program in helping people land new jobs quickly?
- What is this outplacement program’s costs? Can the service be offered to all employees?
To better prepare for layoffs before they begin, companies can employ resources like a Reduction In Force Checklist, which provides a step-by-step guide to successfully managing a layoff. From communicating with affected employees to complying with the WARN Act to selecting an outplacement provider, an RIF checklist can help you make informed decisions at a critical time.
Intoo’s outplacement solution offers a comprehensive career transition solution that is proven to be effective at helping people find new job opportunities quickly. Our services include one-on-one career coaching through video and text chat, personalized resume review, video interview practice, and targeted job matching technology—as well as a full suite of cutting-edge tech tools on an always-accessible virtual platform.
Learn more about how Intoo’s competitively-priced virtual outplacement services allows you to offer outplacement services to all employees.