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Quick Guide to Selecting an Outplacement Provider

Growing skills gaps and talent scarcity are driving organizations to become laser focused on retaining valuable talent. In two separate studies, the employee experience was cited as a growing concern and key element to ensuring future business success.  “The Active Job Seeker Dilemma” found that 83% of HR leaders say the “employee experience” is important to their organization’s success. Similarly, in a recent article in Forbes, HR influencer Jeanne Meister talked about the top trends driving HR departments and revealed that more companies are focusing on “creating a compelling employee experience as the war for talent heats up.”

The war for talent and other developing trends in the new Employee Relationship Economy have prompted employers to change focus and view the employment cycle from beginning to beginning, instead of beginning to end. The same trends that are creating organizational shifts from simply building businesses to building long-term relationships with employees, are playing a crucial role in the expansion of severance benefits — including expanding outplacement, career transition, and redeployment offerings.

As companies and their employees scrutinize every aspect of the employee-employer relationship, it has become clear that choosing the right provider for HR services is as important as providing employees with the services they offer. As we enter Q4 and budgets and programs are under review, it may be time to rethink your outplacement solution and offerings. Here are a few quick tips for either assessing your current provider, or finding outplacement for the first time.

 #1: PERSONALIZATION

One-size-fits-all solutions rarely, if ever, work. In the new world of work, HR leaders are taking on the role of establishing and maintaining unique and authentic workplace cultures as defined by the employee-employer relationship, company goals, values, and stated mission. In this new environment, finding outside services that fit within the existing company culture has become critical to the success of the partnership.

When looking at outside providers, seek those companies that closely align their services and products to how your employees are already working. Be sure your business partners are willing to tailor their solutions to fit your business model, not the other way around. Adding outplacement and career transition services should complement your employee experience through a customized solution designed to meet your needs and the needs of your employees. If you are forced to make major changes to your business model, or consider the needs of the provider before making business decisions, take it as a sign that the whole process might appear inauthentic to your brand.

In addition to customizing programs and services to meet company needs, the most effective outplacement providers are dedicated to providing the most personalized and customized services to your transitioning employees.

While most outplacement providers match career coaches with participants based on location and availability, the most effective programs match coaches and job seekers based on industry knowledge, experience level, and participant requirements.

In traditional models, transitioning employees must rely on the career coach to provide all the outplacement services, including resume writing and aligning job leads to their preferences. Just as you wouldn’t ask the head coach to run batting practice, you shouldn’t expect a career coach to perform tasks best left to the area experts. Professional resume writers and job lead sources are the specialists who should be working with your transitioning employees to write resumes and hand select job leads based on each individual’s background, unique value proposition, and career goals alongside the career coach who is there to provide job search expertise and training.

3 Workplace Trends Impacting the Outplacement Industry in 2017

#2: INNOVATION

It’s no longer enough to fill out a spread sheet with employee names and contact information and hope impacted employees get a job sometime in the future after involuntarily leaving your organization. There’s just too much at stake – especially in an environment where providing a positive employee experience and maintaining a stellar employer brand are among the top concerns for HR departments and the C-suite.

Now, more than ever, HR leaders need to track and analyze the progress of their transitioning employees and be able to measure the sentiment of alumni employees. Look for an outplacement provider who can deliver current, relevant data that will provide transparency and calculates the ROI on your outplacement investment with the results that matter, including satisfaction scores, landing rates, and activity levels.

If your employees don’t use the outplacement services you’ve provided, you are not protected against negative employee sentiment, future tax costs, or potential legal liability – the very reasons you contracted with an outplacement provider in the first place. Make sure your outplacement provider has services that mirror how your employees are already working, with a combination of technology for efficiency and personalized for empathy.

Before choosing an outplacement services provider, ask to see a demo of the technology provided as part of the solution. Beware of companies that talk about innovations that you can’t see, and technology solutions that can’t be quantified by results and statistics. Outplacement technology should augment core services for job seekers, and improve your ability to get the data you need — when you need it.

It’s also important to recognize that outplacement, traditionally defined as support for employees leaving a business, has evolved to recognize the importance of improving productivity of remaining employees, retaining valuable employees through internal mobility, and ensuring future business success through ongoing partnerships with businesses.

Tip: When choosing an outplacement provider, look for one that offers services and programs that go beyond standard outplacement services, such as:

  • Manager notification training
  • Resiliency training for managers and surviving employees
  • Redeployment solutions
  • Retirement solutions
  • Programs for employees seeking non-traditional avenues such as joining the gig economy or becoming an entrepreneur
  • Alumni sentiment tracking
  • Lower coach to program participant ratios
  • A combination of high tech for efficiency and high touch for empathy

When strong technology is matched with hand-picked career coaches who are industry-experts, outplacement becomes extremely effective in helping employees land new jobs following a layoff. When employees land new jobs easily, it’s good for everyone. Employees who are left behind are less likely to remain unhappy and your brand is less likely to take a hit. Look for a provider that combines technology with a personalized approach.

#3: RESULTS

 When a layoff does occur, time is of the essence. If HR teams move too slowly during the separation process, they are at risk of damaging the employer brand, and losing the trust of remaining employees. Your outplacement partner should make the process simple and accelerate personalized services for employees in the case of a layoff. Waiting a week to get a call to start career transition services can feel like a lifetime to someone who needs a paycheck survive. Be sure your provider has systems in place to contact employees soon after notifications and that coaching and services are available within a couple of days following a layoff.

Don’t believe the hype if someone tells you results don’t matter. When your brand reputation and budgets are on the line, results are the only thing that matter. Find out how effective your outplacement provider has been in the past, to discover how effective they will be with your organization.

Some results to ask for, include:

  • What percentage of participants land a new job during the program?
  • What percentage of participants find jobs with equal or greater salaries than those they left?
  • What is the average landing rate for program participants?
  • What is your customer satisfaction rating?

As HCM Services and Solutions Industry Advisor Steve Goldberg says “any set of circumstances that can exacerbate a current business issue can also become a competitive advantage if managed well.” In his published report on “Key Outplacement Services Dimensions,” Goldberg addresses a long list of benefits outplacement can bring to companies. It can be increasingly difficult to cut through the jargon and hype that providers might create. Goldberg believes you can test the waters on business value by asking these four questions of outplacement services providers:

  1. In what ways, particularly meaningful or unique ways, does your offering promote heavy utilization by program participants?
  2. How do you optimally calibrate your mix of program elements to achieve a lower cost base for clients (relative to mostly brick-and-mortar operating vendors), yet higher effectiveness rates as measured by time-to-land?
  3. How do you scale your delivery model to potentially handle hundreds of displaced workers for a particular corporate client without resorting to generic, non-specific coaching, etc..
  4. What success metrics are you tracking and sharing with your clients?

Recently, RiseSmart surveyed over 450 U.S. human resources professionals, nearly 40 percent of whom where vice presidents and directions of HR to find out how their severance offerings have changed along with recent trends. We found that outplacement services are becoming more important to more organizations who are offering programs to more employees than ever before.

We are finding out from our customers, and from employers in all size organizations and industries around the world, that outplacement services–or lack thereof—play a significant role in talent management, brand reputation, and employee career transition success. As employers of choice continue to expand their programs to embrace an employee journey that doesn’t stop when team members move out of the organization, outplacement and job transition services take on greater importance. Choosing an outplacement and career transitions services provider that understands the employer-employee relationship as beginning to beginning will become crucial to future business success – as will finding one that embraces these three important tenets:

  • Personalization
  • Innovation
  • Results

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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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