What is outplacement? How has it evolved? Who are the players? What differentiates one outplacement provider from another? How has technology and the need for data changed how effective outplacement services are delivered? These are just a few of the questions posed by Kevin Grossman, creator and co-founder of the “WorkingTech Podcast”, brought to you by Talent Board. In the 32nd edition of his podcast, Kevin hosted Shri Iyer, senior director, product management, RiseSmart and Lindsay Witcher, senior director of global practice strategy at RiseSmart.
During their conversation, Kevin, Shri, and Lindsay covered a variety of topics of interest to HR leaders, including:
- The competitive landscape in outplacement
- The proliferation of mobile usage for customers and job seekers
- Improving the candidate experience
- Why outplacement is no longer just “nice to have”
- Keeping everyone in the loop with customizable, accurate, and timely reporting
Q: What’s the competitive landscape in outplacement?
Lindsay: Our biggest differentiator is that RiseSmart is a virtual solution. We started from the beginning with the understanding that people want to job search, when they want to search. They don’t want to be constrained by having to drive 45 minutes in traffic to an office.
These days, the job search is a digital experience, and we believe that outplacement services need to match that. Our blend of tech and touch is equally focused on the services we’re providing to people in transition – coaching, branding, job leads, and the technologies to help people get to their next opportunity quickly.
One thing that really differentiates us is that we were digital first. Most of the other players in the market started with what we call the “legacy approach” of offering seminars at their offices around the country and that kind of thing. That model was developed post-WWII whereas we built everything on the assumption that digital is going to be critical for the job search moving forward and that virtual is the way people really want to search for jobs.
We’re based in Silicon Valley where we have access to the best talent in the industry. We’re able to have our finger on the pulse of what’s going on from a technology perspective and that helps us to differentiate what we do from our competitors.
Q: Mobile technology is not just in the hands of the younger generation, people use their mobile devices for everything. How does that influence your product offering?
Shri: That’s right. Initial research shows that the profusion of personal mobile devices has changed customers’ expectations about access to information. According to a recent finding from the Pew Research Center earlier this year, 77 percent of adults in the United States own a smartphone. While the numbers climb as high as 92 percent in the 18 to 29 age range, those aged 30 to 49 are giving them competition at 88 percent. In addition, 74 percent of people aged 50 to 65 also use a smartphone. Because of the widespread use of cell phones, we expect these days to be able to find details on products and services anytime and anywhere and at our fingertips.
These high levels of adoption have huge impact on our strategy and our product offerings. For our customers, we ensured that our customer facing product, RiseSmart Insight™, is mobile friendly and optimized so that HR professionals can get the information they need whenever and wherever they need it. Insight is the first and only outplacement solution with transparency on the status of employee lists delivering accurate data in real time to help HR leaders avoid data errors and stale data.
For our participants (job seekers), we offer a native mobile app which allows them to conduct a job search from the comfort of their coach, or from any other location. Through this application job seekers can communicate with their coaches, access content, such as webinars, podcasts. tip sheets, articles, and other job search related content.
We make all this happen through a central CRM system that hosts all of the candidate information in a secure environment. Our Torch™ CRM is a hub and spoke model that allows the RiseSmart insight platform to share data with our HR customers on the performance of their outplacement program, as well as gather participant data from our job seeker platform. And to facilitate this data management, we host all of our data on the cloud so that every audience or every segment can access their information seamlessly, on demand and at their fingertips.
Q: How do your solutions improve the lives of candidates at the end of the day?
Lindsay: We are fanatical about the participant experience. Folks come to us at an extremely difficult point in their lives and in their careers. They’ve been let go from their jobs, often unexpectedly, and they come to us in a vulnerable, emotional state. These people need time to process what’s happened and to work through the emotions associated with losing a job. We have some people who come to us and feel being laid off was the best thing that ever happened – they were going to leave, anyway, and they’re ready to hit the ground running.
The key thing about how we support these folks, is we meet them where they are. We have coaches and branding experts who are able to help people take the next step in their career path, help them deal with the emotions of losing a job, and provide insights into the specific needs of their industry. They’re experts in different verticals, they understand people’s backgrounds, they know what skills employers are looking for, and they help job seekers be more strategic about how they go after their search by spending their time on the highest results activities. Our participants don’t have to sit around for hours trying to figure out how to write a resume. We write it for them. We want job seekers to be out networking and talking to people.
From the technology, to the services, to the resources that we offer them, it’s all focused around helping people get back to work quickly, and in some cases help them figure out what’s next, including:
- Joining the gig economy
- Becoming an entrepreneur
- Changing careers
- Changing industries
- Creative retirement
Q: Why would employers want to pay to help laid off employees find a new job?
Lindsay: Employers provide our services for a variety of reasons. First of all, it’s the right thing to do, if you have to let people go. Secondly, keeping a positive employer brand is extremely key these days. In many cases organizations are letting people go in one area while hiring in another. If you’re trying to attract the best candidates, you don’t want potential star candidates going on Glassdoor and reading reviews about how poorly you treat your employees.
Offering services like ours really helps to protect the employer brand, and has economic benefits as well – in terms of tax savings and potentially fewer legal fees. At the end of the day, it’s really about doing the right thing and protecting the brand, because a brand is worth a thousand words these days and you’ve got to make sure you’re doing everything you can to protect it and enhance it, which we help companies do.
Kevin: Absolutely. In fact, data from the Talent Board and the Candidate Experience research that we do, makes it very clear that everything HR departments do – from pre-application, to onboarding, and obviously to outplacement can have a positive or negative impact on your business and your brand. And that means that literally, it is the difference between whether or not candidates would ever apply again, whether or not they would refer other ever again. It even determines whether or not they would make future purchases – especially for consumer-based business.
Q: What kind of data and reporting do HR leaders and the executive team need for outplacement?
Shri: RiseSmart Insight provides visibility into all aspects of our placement activity and places it at the fingertips of executives, directors and everyday users. I always like to start off by telling a story. If you can imagine that you’re managing a lay-off and your list of impacted employees was accidentally made public or it went into the wrong hands. Now, that’s a very tough and embarrassing situation.
First of all, Insight delivers a secure way to upload and manage lists of employees eligible for outplacement with bank level encryption of the data. Next, the dashboard gives executive leadership a glance at key outplacement metrics, like engagement rates, landing rates, and satisfaction scores. If the leadership wants more in-depth analysis than what is shown on the dashboard, they can drill down into reports and current data to slice and dice as they please.
And we also introduced a very new and cool metric for our customers called the Alumni Sentiment Rating where we measure how impacted employees feel about their former employer, after their outplacement program is complete. This way, the executive leadership is able to see the impact of outplacement on their brand as an employer.
Kevin: I love the aspect of the Alumni Sentiment as well, of getting that feedback from those that have gone through the program and then having them rate that. I think that’s critical and it’s a nice differentiator as well, for you and for your customers.
Q: Who are RiseSmart’s partners and how do they help fill out your offerings?
Lindsay: Although we’re owned by Randstad, we remain a separate operating entity. However, that acquisition has provided a clear synergy. Randstad is trying to sell jobs and we have people who need jobs. Through our partnership, we’re able to give our participants access to more than 6500 recruiters worldwide and many opportunities that they wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere by connecting our participants to the “hidden” job market to some degree.
Another one that comes to mind is Checkster. Checkster is a great technology platform that offers our participants the ability to get 360 feedback from their network and peers. Using this data, our participants are able get the information they need to define their branding, shape their interview answers, understand their strengths, discover areas for improvements, and then craft a story around who they are as a candidate and what kind of value that they would bring to an organization.
You can hear the WorkingTech podcast #32 in its entirety here.
“WorkingTech” is brought to you by Talent Board, the first non-profit research organization, focused on the elevation and promotion of a quality candidate experience. Talent Board and the Candidate Experience Awards benchmark research helps employers around the world with recruiting candidate experience and the business bottom line. Learn more at the talentboard.org.