People have long memories. Individuals who have been made redundant remember every last detail. These former employees will talk to their friends and family about how they were treated when an organisation has made them redundant. They may be customers themselves of the organisation and possibly at some time in the future you may even want to re-hire them.
The impact on poorly executed redundancy programmes can go on long after the individuals have left the organisation.
Then there are the people left behind – what are their thoughts on an organisation that has not managed its redundancy programme well? There is the potential when the labour market improves for organisations to lose talented people who feel the organisation has not supported their departing colleagues as well as they might have.
A well-managed redundancy process can save the organisation time and resources and will ensure that there is a less negative impact on the overall business performance. Poor processes take up management time, cause a distraction for all and may lead to claims at Tribunal.
Outplacement is often put in place to salve the guilt; organisations want to be seen to be taking positive action for the people whose lives they are changing forever. However, many organisations don’t fully appreciate the full range of activities many outplacement organisations can offer to ensure that both the redundancy process is well managed and that there is the least impact on the business possible.
Outplacement assistance can be provided throughout the whole process not just at the point of redundancy.
From the very point of organisations deciding to make headcount reductions, external outplacement support should be engaged. From constructing the new role profiles, to defining the selection process, the competencies and to assist with the interviews, the outplacement consultants can add value and most critically independence.
By playing an active role in the selection process, the outplacement consultant can bring;
- transparency to the process,
- they can provide feedback to unsuccessful candidates, and
- shape development plans for those being placed into the roles.
This adds value to the whole process. There is nothing worse than individuals feeling de-valued by poorly executed internal processes which are not transparent, and the view is often that hiring decisions have already been made.
For staff that have to make the difficult decision to stay or to potentially take voluntary redundancy, outplacement consultants can provide support and can be on hand to help with preparing for internal recruitment processes when there are more people than jobs. They can give a balanced view of the opportunities available to the individual, both internally and externally.
Once individuals are facing an exit from the organisation, they will need advice on working through what to do next and help with how to secure a new role. However, they also need their outplacement consultant to care about them as individuals. This will be a critical time for them and the last thing they want is to be “processed” by an outplacement provider, just one of many, they need to feel important and need to feel valued. In some case, the outplacement provided may also perform more of a personal coaching role to overcome feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem.
The challenge is to select the right outplacement provider for your organisation.
The best consultants will want to spend time upfront understanding what you need to achieve from any re-organisation and will need to develop a deep understanding of the strategy behind these decisions – this is key to answering questions from the people they will be working directly with and essentially reinforcing the key messages from the organisation.
Good consultants will also tailor their packages to the demographic profile of the people they are supporting and they must also ensure they have a strong understanding of the local labour market in the surrounding area of the organisation. This will ensure they enhance the whole process, rather than just delivering generic workshops or a standard format one to one meeting.
Finally, don’t buy your outplacement on price. Buy from those outplacement consultants who you would trust with your own career and be confident you are giving something valuable to your people, staying or going, that will be a positive lasting reminder of an organisation that truly cared, even in difficult times.