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Regular news updates and opinion on executive talent recruitment, development and retention

Outplacement – A confidence trick?

Question: Getting rid of people and offering outplacement support is?…

  • A kindness
  • Conscience money
  • An investment
  • The only really useful training you’ve ever given your ex-staff

Sometimes called outplacement counselling, the provision of ‘after work’ services to managers and executives is now a well-established part of the severance package. It is however, not a universal provision. Many still go out into the world unprepared and unaware of the power of outplacement. So what is it?

From time to time somebody re-invents the concept and launches a new name for the product, but essentially it’s the same deal – ‘you give them money – they take your problems away’; too cynical? – Or simply the way the Finance Director might describe it?

So what are you buying, outplacement counselling, redundancy counselling, job search training, administration facilities, career assistance, career coaching?

It used to be simple. ‘This is how you do a CV, get through an interview, write a letter, network etc.’ Perhaps you did a bit of navel-staring self analysis, a psychometric ‘test’, got an office space, some admin support, access to the ‘hidden job market’. Then along came the Internet, self-help, personal development programmes, career audit, competency analysis, personal motivation assessment – and so on – all, apparently readily available, online. Worse still, along came the bandwagon, everybody was suddenly into outplacement supply, career management, added value.

‘Qualified’ or highly experienced ‘counsellors’ offered to guide you through a ‘difficult time in your life’, some ironically with a time limit (three months and then you’re on your own) some without (open ended support). How many ‘counsellors’ chose to be in outplacement versus those who ended up in it because they were once made redundant remains to be seen.

So what is ‘Outplacement’?

  • Is it a kindness? There are many who struggle, have no one to talk to, need a reference point, are screwed up, are unaware of their failings or quite simply need a good practical survival guide for the future.
  • Is it conscience money? Maybe you’ll sleep better if you know that at the very least the corporate head can be held up in public. Personal angst is entirely dependent on whether you feel those affected have been treated fairly, or whether you really care.
  • Is it an investment? If you feel that it is valuable to help people back on to the career track so that they are able to once again feed their family and pay tax – yes. If you feel that it pays to have your organisation associated with supportive and caring policies – yes. If you want to decrease the anxiety of those remaining in your business – yes. If you want to reduce your exposure to unfair dismissal claims – yes (it isn’t always a real redundancy), if you want to show corporate responsibility and good people policies – yes.
  • Is it the only really useful training you’ve ever given your ex-staff? They may feel: de-skilled as a result of being with your organisation: kicked in the teeth: depressed: de-motivated: lacking in self-esteem: angry, ill equipped. You just don’t know. Perhaps the least you could do would be to give ex-staff their confidence back.

And that’s the trick! Confidence.

What you think you are buying is probably less important than what the individual is getting. They must get support that gives them confidence – in themselves, in their product, in their future. It really doesn’t matter how they get it. Choose suppliers and services that are appropriate, not convenient or cheap. Choose needs based support, not gimmicky overblown packages. Make provision for how you would like to be treated if redundancy should happen to you!

For help with your people needs – employee support programmes, office closures, redundancies or
otherwise, please contact Tim Hurst on 07941 073180

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