Redundancy Outplacement – A Sense of Hope and DirectionPosted in : HR Updates on 28 April 2021
Covid has had a significant impact on when, where and how we work. As the restrictions start to ease businesses are faced with making decisions regarding the transition back to the workplace and dealing with the longer term implications of the pandemic. Over the last year businesses have attempted to minimise the impact of Covid by utilising furlough, flexible furlough, reduced working hours and cutting discretionary spend – but the unfortunate reality is that many business owners will now be facing into implementing redundancy processes to address the loss in business and the need to reduce salary costs.
No one takes this step lightly and as HR professionals, our role is to design and implement these processes as fairly and as compassionately as possible. One possible step in the redundancy process is to offer outplacement support to those employees who are made redundant. On the face of it, this may seem a discretionary element and an additional cost to a business where budgets are already under pressure, but the significant benefits both to the affected employees and to the business would suggest that this support should be taken seriously into consideration when planning the redundancy process.
Outplacement support is typically provided by an independent third party in partnership with the organisation. The service provides a range of practical and emotional support to affected employees, including:
- Exploring a range of career options (including alternative roles, self-employment, starting a business, retirement)
- Assistance and guidance with job search strategies, market trends and understanding the online job market
- Support to update employment documents, such as a CV and covering letter, LinkedIn profile and guidance in completing job applications
- Support to identify transferable skills
- Interview preparation and tailored training
- Providing networking opportunities, information resources and in some cases, office workspace
So what are the benefits of including outplacement as part of the redundancy process? For the affected employees, outplacement has a positive impact in a number of ways:
- As the employer, you are providing much needed support (both practical and emotional) at a critical time for your employees. The job market has changed and so has how recruitment is carried out. Many of your employees will not have been active in the job market, so will need this support to guide them through the necessary strategies.
- Your employees are likely to be experiencing a broad range of difficult emotions – including anger, shock, anxiety, fear and despair. They are dealing with a loss of income alongside the negative impact on their self-confidence and status. Many will bottle these emotions up – unable to share them in the workplace and perhaps unwilling to bring them home. Outplacement provides a safe space for your employees to share these emotions, process them and critically, provides a sense of hope and direction during a traumatic period in their lives.
- Outplacement support can provide much needed motivation and momentum, providing a forward looking focus for your employees. These redundancies are coming at a time when competition for roles is very high and it is a challenging job market, due to Covid and its impact on businesses. Perkbox have stated that employees offered outplacement support statistically resettle 50% faster than those not offered the service.
- Providing this support at no cost to the employee, at a time when the individual is losing their source of income and fearful about future earnings, reduces some of the stress and anxiety that they will inevitably be feeling.
And for the organisation, providing outplacement support as part of the redundancy package provides the following benefits:
- Expecting Human Resources staff to provide career support and guidance to staff who are being made redundant is unfair. Their focus, quite rightly, is in ensuring that the redundancy process is fair and appropriate. They themselves may be feeling anxious about their own roles, whilst dealing with the shock and upset of those selected for redundancy. Many are not up to speed with current developments in career assessment and job search strategies – so it places an additional burden on them at a time when they already under pressure. The HR team do have a role to play - in selling the benefits of accessing this support and encouraging affected employees to avail of the services.
- Providing outplacement support sends a really positive signal to staff who remain with the business. Redundancies in a business are known to have a negative impact on both the morale and productivity of those remaining. Whilst no doubt feeling unsettled and anxious at the changes taking place within their organisations, remaining employees will see and appreciate that the business is investing in supporting their staff who are being made redundant. It also provides some reassurance that if they are faced with redundancy in the future they too will be supported. Staff will want to work for a responsible employer and one that takes care of their staff at all stages of the employee life cycle.
- Including outplacement support as part of the redundancy package feeds into the employer’s reputation and brand. How you treat employees leaving the business is as important as how you on-board staff and treat them during their employment. With the popularity of social media and online review sites such as Glassdoor, feedback on your culture and your organisation will be readily known in the marketplace.
- Providing outplacement support can also reduce the level of conflict experienced during the redundancy process and may result in fewer legal challenges, if the employee feels that the decision made was not personal, reached fairly and appropriately and that the employer is trying to support them in a meaningful way.
So what factors should you consider when choosing an outplacement provider?
- Critically, their track record and reputation in the market.
- The experience and credentials of the named consultant(s) who will be working with your staff and how your staff will be matched with their consultant.
- The proposed costs to the business for the services offered.
- Where are they based – how accessible are they for your staff?
- The flexibility of their offering – can they provide 1:1 support and group training if appropriate?
- Over what time period is the support available?
- Can they support all levels of staff including executive recruitment?
- Do they provide access to online support material and research tools?
- What networking opportunities can they provide?
- Do they adhere to a recognised Code of Practice eg CIPD?
Redundancy processes are hugely challenging for any organisation and particularly those selected for redundancy. Unfortunately we are going to see more of these in the coming months. Offering outplacement support as part of the redundancy package provides critical, relevant, timely, practical and emotional support to your affected employees. With its positive impact on your staff who are leaving the business, those who remain, and on your brand and reputation– surely the investment is worth making?
More on Redundancy
- Government Backs New Laws on Carers, Sexual Harassment, Flexible Working, Redundancy Protection and More: The Employment Bill by the Back Door?
- Bathgate v Technip UK Ltd 
- Dempster v The Gill Corporation Europe Ltd 
- If an employee requests voluntary redundancy is their employer still bound by dismissal procedures?
- Maxwell & Others v Tooley’s Bar Ltd 
The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.