On January 23rd, RiseSmart predicted New England to win the big game based on a single factor: unemployment rate. Since Boston holds a 3% unemployment rate, we forecasted their win over Philadelphia, which has a 4.4% unemployment rate. We knew it was going to be a good game, and we knew we had the highest chance of being wrong this year, since out of the nine times we’ve been wrong, New England has been one of the teams in contention. In addition, this was going to be a tough win for either team. According to NFL.com, “Super Bowl LII is the 3rd Super Bowl in NFL history (first in nearly 40 years) to feature two teams that both ranked top 5 in scoring offense and scoring defense (Eagles: #3 offense, #4 defense; Patriots: #2 offense, #5 defense).” When the teams are that evenly matched, it’s more difficult to say with certainty that one team will prevail, but it always makes for a great game.
If you take a look at the historical data, RiseSmart has accurately predicted a big game win in 28 of the past 37 games, or 76% of the time. Cities that keep employees employed and are able to get their people back to work quickly are combatting more than unemployment—a low rate is a contributing factor to punching that ticket to the big game.
So, what’s the secret to combatting unemployment (and winning the big game)? While our team can’t guarantee a winning football season, we do have some tricks up our sleeves when it comes to keeping unemployment rates low and employee retention, redeployment, and satisfaction high.
#1: BE PREPARED FOR A JUKE
While you can be prepared for the future to a certain extent, there will always be outside factors, such as the state of the economy or the war for top talent, that remain out of your control. Just like a football tackler should be prepared for a fake-out, business leaders should be prepared for a sudden, yet unavoidable event, such as a layoff.
Embracing change, transition, and resilience is key to overcoming the aftermath of a layoff and retaining employees. As Lindsay Witcher wrote for the RiseSmart Smart Talk HR blog, “how people react to change can be the difference between an organization that is able to withstand events, like layoffs, and those that continue to struggle due to lost productivity and poor employer brand image.” It always comes down to being prepared.
Start by addressing the elephant in the room long before a layoff occurs. When employees understand that the current financial situation is less than ideal, they might be motivated to take action. Encourage employees to do their part to reduce expenses and make decisions with costs top of mind. At the same time, focus on empowering managers with resiliency training as they prepare to help employees through a period of transition. Managers who are prepared and honest about the current situation—and pending juke—will earn the trust from employees that you need to build to get them to stick around and stay productive.
#2: PROTECT YOUR BLIND SIDE
You can make moves to stack your defense against the inevitable, but to truly protect your blind side, you need outplacement and severance experts who partner with you to minimize damage. Interestingly, many football experts say the offensive tackle, also known as the blindside protector, is one of the toughest yet most important positions. In the words of journalist Noah Davis, think about it this way: “an NFL team’s season often comes down to the health of its quarterback. And the man most responsible for keeping that golden arm on the field is the behemoth on the blindside, the left tackle for a right-handed QB.”
When you find an outplacement services provider that is truly dedicated to building an authentic partnership with your team, you strengthen your defense. Then your offense—your productivity and capabilities to perform at maximum—stay safe from outside negative impact a layoff ignites. In our experience, a reduction in staff can have a negative ripple effect across an organization, prompting disengagement and inhibiting productivity. When outplacement experts create a customized strategy and playbook for the organization to assist exiting employees with career transition, unemployment rates stay low. And when leaders and managers in the company are well-equipped to handle a workforce reduction and the challenges that come with it, employees are more inclined to stay.
#3: ASSESS YOUR COACHING STAFF
If we could learn anything from Bill Belichick, the coach led the team from New England to 8 championship games and won 70% of them, it’s to stay creative and persistent with getting your team to win. At RiseSmart, we find the most strategic way to approach the career transition process is through a unique coaching methods that are designed to help people land new jobs faster. When an involuntary reduction in workforce does occur, it’s important to have the strategy and coaching staff in place to help employees take the next step in their career. The smoother and more immediate the employee transitions to a new job, the less of an impact on unemployment rates.
At RiseSmart, we develop and deploy coaching strategies help people discover new roles more than 60% faster than the national average, which in turn keeps unemployment rates as low as possible. We find that career coaches are most effective when they:
- Get employees focused immediately (within 24 hours of a layoff), starting with the development of their professional value proposition
- Assist with resume construct and writing
- Keep transitioning employees organized and on track through interviews, resume-writing and applying for jobs
#4: CALL AN AUDIBLE
A smart quarterback will change plays based on how he sees the defense line up. Similarly, smart teams will make changes to their teams based on the circumstances. Redeployment—or moving employees within your organization from one position to another based on the circumstances—is a smart strategy for retaining the best and brightest employees while creating a flexible and mobile workplace environment.
Whether on the field or at a workplace, calling an audible requires an all-hands on deck approach. Decision makers, managers, and employees must be aligned and able to surface relevant internal opportunities in real-time. Redeployment matches the goals, skills, and experience of impacted talent, typically following a layoff, with relevant internal opportunities. It keeps business knowledge inside your business, while reducing the costs associated with lost productivity, layoffs, recruitment, and onboarding.
When it’s all said and done, the way businesses treat employees plays a crucial role in getting employees to stick around. Even in the case of an involuntary workforce reduction, savvy HR and business leaders should have a plan for outplacement and career transition in place, to help exiting employees transition to the next phase of their careers, and retain productive workers throughout a challenging time. While we have little real control over who wins the Big Game (we’ll let the coaches handle that!), we have seen entire communities stay employed and bustling when businesses invest in combatting unemployment.