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How to Navigate Change and Job Loss and Come Out Ahead

Change is difficult, no matter how much we say we invite it, or love a challenge, and the most difficult changes are those that are out of our control, such as getting laid off.  Most people react to getting “riffed” as if they were fired, when that is almost never the case, and usually has nothing to do with your performance. Companies have layoffs for a myriad of reasons, sometimes because the company is not doing well, but often due to a change in strategy. They exchange one effort and the people involved for a different direction, and new people. It’s become a way of managing a business. The days of loyalty and commitment to employees are largely over, so there’s no point in waiting for your gold watch anymore.

The emotions behind job loss

Each person who loses their job this way has a unique situation and reaction, but all share a certain passage through this experience. Sometimes it comes as a shock and sometimes it has been long anticipated, or at least suspected. You may experience a degree of relief if the tension has been building for a long time, or if you have been wanting to make a change yourself but were not quite able to do it. Or it may be devastating because you loved your job and liked your coworkers and suddenly you find yourself locked out.

Either way, most people experience difficult emotional and psychological reactions to losing a job, at least at first. You may experience grief at leaving colleagues behind, a sense of frustration that you didn’t get to bring your work to some point of completion, a feeling of loss of identity (who am I without my job?), and fear about what may come next. Unfortunately, you may feel somehow responsible and blame yourself as if you had been fired, which is most certainly not the case. These are natural responses, and it’s best to acknowledge them, find someone you can trust to talk to about them, and know that you can make it through this part and move on.

Prepare yourself for the ups and downs of a job search

You might need to give yourself a little time before you leap into a serious job hunt so you will be at your best when you begin to talk to people about what you want next when networking and be in a good state when interviewing. Sometimes it can be good to take advantage of your new liberty and take a vacation, socialize, exercise, or revisit old hobbies you love but have had no time for. The important thing is to participate in activities that help to restore your balance and your faith in the future. Crunch your numbers and get real data about when you absolutely must be working again from a financial perspective to prevent unnecessary panic. If you really have to start searching immediately, fit self-care into your day even if only in small increments – go for a walk or a run, meet with friends, do something you enjoy to break up the job of looking for a job.

Know that the emotions about your new situation can ebb and flow. Maybe you feel like you are certain to secure a particular position, and then it falls through. Just as you think you are completely healed and feeling great, you can fall back and have a bad day, or a few bad days where everything seems dark and hard. If you have developed some kind of routine and included things you really like to do, it will help to get you back on track. It’s especially effective to get outside and let some sunshine land on your head, or rain, or snow – just being in nature reminds us of who are and restores us. It’s in these times that you develop real resilience, which will serve you well for the rest of your life, and in all aspects of your life. Courage is not the exclusive territory of heroes and does not magically manifest itself. Courage is walking through fear and doubt step by step and continually retrieving the belief that you will be all right.

Take the time to know what you want in your future career

When you start looking, begin by thinking about what you really want to do next – what is important to you at this point in your life in your work. There is always plenty of time to make compromises down the road if you need to, but no need to start there. If you’re not sure what you want to do next, do some research. Read a lot of job descriptions to see what’s out there now, talk to people who are doing what you want to do, brainstorm with trusted advisors. It will be easier for people to help you if you can clearly articulate what you want. You may want a career coach to support you through this process.

From a tactical point of view, spend some time polishing your professional image. Get a really good resume, and spend time on your LinkedIn profile, which is now the number one resource for recruiters – not to mention many professionals go there to check you out. Think about your skills and strengths so you can emphasize them both in writing and in speaking. Develop your story about who you are professionally, what you bring to table, and what matters to you when it comes to your work.

Learn flexibility and resiliency to succeed

It may take time, but you will find your next opportunity, and when you do here are some thoughts to keep in mind:

In today’s corporate world, the one constant is change. You need to be flexible and resilient to participate whole-heartedly. Consider yourself part of a profession rather than part of a company. Often, we get into a busy job, put our heads down, and in time realize everything we do and everyone we know is at that company. You realize how limiting this is when you find yourself without a job

Develop and sustain a broader professional network. Participate in outside professional groups, maintain a current resume, continue to evolve your LinkedIn profile with additional contacts and references. Find ways to communicate and provide value within your profession. If you need a new certificate or degree to remain competitive, get it – you can do this while you are working, and you can also do it when you’re in-between positions. In this age of knowledge, your security lies within what and who you know, and not with any one organization. Always stay alert for opportunities.

Think about retirement now

Something else to begin thinking about, especially if you are a mature professional, is how you might want your “retirement” to look. Many of us want to keep doing some kind of work, but don’t want to work as much, and want our work to add real value to society. Developing a plan for that period in your life can be worthwhile, as you may want to begin dipping your toe into some new experiences and skills to prepare for it. There are a lot of factors to consider, needless to say, and it can’t hurt to start thinking about it ahead of time, since that will be your next big identity shift. And it just might be something to look forward to.

 

Kathleen Marvin is a Certified Career Coach at RiseSmart. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Antioch University and an M.A. in Organizational Psychology from JFK University.

“I’m have been a career development coach for 13 years, focusing on professional and personal development. Because every client is unique, I develop a custom coaching program to fit you so you can find a way to be happier and more satisfied in your work. I especially enjoy coaching managers, technical people, and people from different cultures on effective communication, managing through influence, and helping people find their next opportunity.”

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About Mildred Blankson

I am a Human Resource Professional with a Masters Degree in Human Resource Management. I have several years of experience in Human Resources and i hope this blog will be a great resource in helping you find the perfect job or candidate that you seek.

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How to Leverage Company Benefits to Recruit and Retain Top Talent

One-third of organizations have increased their overall benefit offerings in 2016, according to a research report compiled by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). As recruiting and retaining top talent continue to become increasingly difficult for employers, robust benefit packages play a key role. When salaries and perks (think: free lunch) are nearly equal from company to company, employees are likely to opt for the company that offers the best benefits and greatest opportunities.

Medical and financial benefits aside, employees are looking for lifestyle and career benefits. SHRM reported that the top reason employers increased benefits in 2016 was to remain competitive in the marketplace—and the three biggest focus areas for change were in the health (22%), wellness (24%), and professional and career development (16%) categories. Robust benefit packages that include career development, health and wellness, and flexible working options provide a platform for employers to stand out. Nearly one-third of employees look for external positions because they desire “overall better benefits,” second only to higher compensation.

The type of benefits you offer speaks volumes on how you treat and support employees, which always manifests by way of your external employer brand. It’s not enough to say “we have great benefits,” because “great benefits” are now table stakes. Companies have mastered the art of talking about perks, from catered lunches to team building activities. Failure to talk about the real support and development opportunities you offer to employees might translate to missed opportunities. So how can hiring managers and recruiters promote employee benefits to help with recruiting and retention?

#1: Kick “industry standard” out of your vocabulary

When recruiters and hiring managers list their company’s benefits and summarize with the catch-all phrase, we offer “industry standard” benefits, it’s not enough. When all else—compensation, vacation days, and perks—are even, offering a standard benefits package won’t help your company standout enough to secure commitment from a top employee. Even though it might be tempting to default to a quick response, it pays to provide more detail about the benefits your company offers, in length, during the interview process.

And even more importantly than providing a laundry list of benefits (but kudos to you for that list!), explain how these benefits fit in with core company values. For example, if you offer flexible work arrangements and flexible hours, explain that these arrangements support your company’s value of work-life balance. If you provide a gym membership or showers at work, talk about how it enhances company culture or creates opportunities for employees to get the exercise they desire in a convenient way.. When recruits begin to see how your benefits support their shared values and interests, they’ll see the benefits you offer are much greater than “industry standard.”

Employers hoping to keep a competitive edge are offering more than the “industry standard” at every stage of the employee journey, including at severance – according to a recent study by RiseSmart. If you’re on the cutting edge of severance offerings, use those benefits to differentiate your company form the competition.

#2: Talk about goals in the recruiting and interview process

Before an employee is even hired, find out what they’re looking for in their employer and what their short and long term goals are. Ask questions like, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” and “How are you hoping your employer will support you along your career journey?” Employees, many of whom are seeking opportunities for career development and continuing education, need to know you plan to invest in their individual career goals.

A Career Builder survey found that 45% of employees, regardless of generation, plan to stay with their employer for less than two years. During their tenure, they expect to benefit and grow with each new role and and at each new company. It’s important to convey to prospective employees that you invest in each individual employee, regardless for how long they plan to stay in the role for which they are being hired.

#3: Amplify the employee voice

Remind employees early on that they have a voice to share about company culture and employee benefits. Glassdoor, for example, recommends employers invite new hires to reflect on their first few months at the company. Whether this leads to internal feedback or a public review, it can assist efforts aimed at creating a positive employer brand.

L’Oréal recently launched a #LifeatLoreal hashtag to encourage employees to share photos of their experiences at work. The campaign all stemmed from the idea that people would trust their peers on social media when it came to L'Oréal being a great place to work. Employees posted a wide variety of pictures, including snapshots of various benefits and perks in action—such as flex days and catered lunches. Encourage employees to share the experiences they enjoy the most on the social channel of their choice.

#4: Keep employees engaged with benefits

On average, salary is only about 70% of an employee’s total compensation. When employees don’t take advantage of the benefits offered by the company, it’s equivalent to leaving 30% of the total compensation package on the table. Employers who keep employees engaged with benefits are more likely to see benefits manifest as part of the employer brand. An employee is highly unlikely to leave a Glassdoor review that mentions a positive benefit if she has never actually utilized the benefit.

Try hosting monthly or quarterly Q&A sessions to discuss available benefits. When you roll out a particularly hefty benefit, such as a new 401K offering, or an update to parental leave policy, give employees ample opportunity to ask questions. You could also share success stories from employees who have taken advantage of a particularly niche benefit, such as an hour of free lawyer services, to showcase how the benefit is used and encourage other employees to check it out.

#5: Benefits are the forgotten negotiation tool

If you are a hiring manager or recruiter engaging with a candidate, think beyond salary, or equity. Everything is negotiable, from vacation days to health insurance choices. Savvy employees, especially as the war for talent continues to heat up, will use benefits as negotiation tools—but don’t shy away from doing the same thing on the employer side. It’s often easier to offer more benefits than to secure additional salary for an employee.

Don’t be afraid to talk about your full complement of benefits, including your severance benefits. Prospective employees may feel more comfortable about joining a company that will take care of them, in the event of a downsizing or restructuring event. You may want to consider offering perks like outplacement and career transition services to employees who leave voluntarily as well as those who are involuntary subjects of a layoff. Knowing that you are invested in their career, even after they leave, will help you create a workforce of dedicated, engaged, and satisfied employees.

The world is small and everyone is connected. When you invest in employees, it leads to a positive employer brand. In the new Employee Relationship Economy, former employees will someday become vendors, customers, brand evangelists, recruiting references, or even boomerang employees. In a world where the employee/employer relationship is no longer finite, it’s important to convey your full support for employees’ career endeavors at every stage of their career journeys -- beginning early in the recruiting and interview process.

In every recruiting conversation, highlight your dedication to each employee’s career. When you frame up your organization’s benefits in context of how they fit in with the employee’s journey, it’s easy for the candidate to see how your company would support his journey. Communication about employee benefits can go a long way in the recruiting process—and will have a direct impact on your employer brand. If you offer much more than “industry standard,” you should be screaming it from the rooftops. Your current and prospective employees deserve to understand just how committed you are to their personal and professional journey.

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