The Employer's Guide to Career Transition and Outplacement Services

When faced with the reality of layoffs for your employees, providing Career Transition services may not be what you think of first. You may even think of it as an unnecessary expense, but the decision as to whether to offer Career Transition & Outplacement services is noted by the separated employees, remaining employees, and the community at large. In an ever-changing business environment such as the one the United States is currently experiencing, the fear of finding a new position is very real. Easing those fears and offering guidance and a helping hand goes a long way in maintaining a company's good reputation among employees, customers, and key stakeholders.

Choosing the right Outplacement firm is essential. The right firm is your partner, working with and advising you from the beginning of the process through completion.

 
WHAT ARE SOME BENEFITS OF CAREER TRANSITION SERVICES?
There are many benefits to using Career Transition Services for your displaced employees. Here are just a few....
  1. Helps the terminated employee find work quicker helping to ease their stress and worry. 
  2. Priceless counseling to assist the employee in their new search.
  3. Increase loyalty, satisfaction and morale from the employees remaining at the company.  
  4. Keeps remaining employees engaged and productive.
  5. Maintains the company's reputation among workers and the community.  
  6. Decrease the risk of lawsuit claims.
  7. Cost savings.
  8. Attract and retain top talent.
WHAT IS THE GENERAL PROCESS IN SETTING UP OUTPLACEMENT SERVICES? 
The business organization usually has consulted with their legal counsel to establish a written separation agreement document that specifies the information in a potential severance package if one will be offered.  At that time, the business hires (if they are offering Outplacement support) a firm to administer the services to the impacted ex-employees.  The Outplacement firm meets with senior leadership to establish service offerings and what support the company would need for implementing the notifications. This is different for each business but generally includes…
  1. Preparation of the terminating day activities
  2. On-site to meet with adversely impacted employees
  3. Assistance in employee physical departure from the work
  4. Immediate grief counseling
  5. New career counseling activities over an extended period of time
  6. Receiving an offer(s)
  7. Negotiating to an employment agreement
  8. Closing their career campaign down.
 
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR WHEN SEEKING OUTPLACEMENT SERVICES?
  1. Personalization - A one-size-fits-all approach to Outplacement services just won't cut in this new world of work. It is essential that your service provider is willing to tailor their solution and offerings not only to your business model, but to the individual employee as well. It is also important that the Outplacement provider offer a human component to their services in addition to their technology offerings. Nothing can beat one-on-one personal services of a career coach working directly with your employee.
  2. Technology Before choosing an Outplacement service provider, ask about the technology piece provided as part of the solution. Find out how their technology component is utilized within the services provided to the transitioning employee, is it best in class and up to date, and are they using best practices to maximize the employees' return such as social media, videos, personalization?
  3. Accessibility & Flexibility - Everyone has something that works for them. More often than not an online program is a popular request. Does the provider offer traditional and modern coaching programs that can be tailored to the needs of the employee? Does the provider offer flexible hours throughout the Outplacement process including nights and weekends? Does the terminated employee have to meet their coach in person? If so, is there a convenient local meeting place? Will the coach hold video conferences if they are not able to meet in person?
  4. Service Focus - Does this provider specialize in Outplacement? You may find that consulting firms that specialize in Outplacement have a more enthusiastic approach than those where Outplacement is secondary service offering. 
  5. Do they offer services beyond the basics? When choosing an Outplacement provider, look for one that offers services and programs that go beyond standard Outplacement services, such as
    1. On-site notification support
    2. Strategic management services
    3. Retirement solutions
    4. Resiliency training
    5. Spousal/family program offering
    6. Redeployment solutions
    7. Programs for employees seeking non-traditional career avenues 
    8. A combination of high tech for efficiency and high touch for empathy 

WHAT QUESTIONS SHOULD EMPLOYERS ASK THEIR OUTPLACEMENT SERVICE PROVIDER? 

Here are the top questions we suggest you ask a potential Outplacement Service Provider.
  1. Can you please describe your firm's service offerings and do you have client satisfaction data to share?
  2. What is your approach to service delivery at the various levels?
  3. What are your consultant's qualifications?
  4. Do you offer online support and a technology package?
  5. What career focused profiles do you utilize at the middle and upper levels?
  6. Do you offer the same program for each displaced employee or a customized approach? 
  7. Will a consultant be available to support me on notification day and in what capacity?
  8. How much of the career transition consulting is delivered in person?
  9. How do you service clients that are outside of this region?
  10. What are the total services included in the fee and how are fees calculated?
  11. What are your invoice policies? These should be based on actual engagement and not hypothetical project numbers.
ON AVERAGE, WHAT IS THE COST FOR OUTPLACEMENT SERVICES?
It varies from approximately $1,000 to $5,000 per person for limited basic programs; $5,000 to $10,000 per person for limited professional programs; $10,000 to $35,000 per person for structured Executive services and then $35,000+ per person for extended support and customized programs at the senior levels. However, some self-direct programs can run as little as $500 - $2,500 per person. 

WILL WE BE CHARGED IF A DISPLACED EMPLOYEE ELECTS NOT TO USE THE OUTPLACEMENT SERVICES?
There is no charge to your company for those employees that decline Outplacement services offered to them. 

HOW WILL I KNOW HOW MY FORMER EMPLOYEES ARE ADVANCING?  
When investing in Career Transition services it can be beneficial to track each employee's progress to determine whether the investment is profitable for both the employer and the employee. Status reports can be discussed and reviewed with your Outplacement firm on a timely basis. However, it is important to note that counseling confidentiality is critical between the counselor and the participant. 

 

WHAT TYPES OF SUPPORT WILL THE OUTPLACEMENT FIRM BE PROVIDING MY FORMER EMPLOYEES?  
The level of support can vary between Outplacement firms. Some may only offer the basic tools and training to obtain an interview, while others will extend their services beyond the interview including interview management and negotiation. Here at Miles LeHane we take each participant through a 14-step process along with profiling at certain levels, career strategy planning, emotional support and confidant on career choices. We educate as well as assist in finding new career opportunities.  Outplacement is not the job search, but rather we assist them in how to interact with search professionals. Developing strategy and interview management are absolute keys to success.
 
CAN CAREER TRANSITION AND OUTPLACEMENT SERVICES HELP ACHIEVE MORE SUCCESSFUL ON-BOARDING AND RETENTION RESULTS? 
Career Transition focuses on effective job/person fit. With this, more effective interviewing and offer acceptance, the on-boarding process becomes LESS DIFFICULT because many potential issues have been discussed. It converts it to a learning environment versus a trial and error process.
 
WHAT HAPPENS IF MY FORMER EMPLOYEE IS UNABLE TO SECURE A NEW POSITION WITHIN THE TIME PEROID PROMISED BY THE OUTPLACEMENT FIRM?

As long as the candidate is actively looking and working to find a position Miles LeHane is always available to take candidate-initiated calls to answer specific questions.

If the engaged candidate needs to take a break for a family emergency or for medical reasons we will work with that candidate and can put their particular program on “hold” for an extended period of time once there is agreement from the former employer and the participant.

 
 
 
 
Scott Miles is the Managing Partner and Operations Manager at Miles LeHane Companies.  Scott works with clients, consultants, and client organizations on matters relating to reorganizations, career transition and outplacement. Follow Scott on Twitter @scott_miles.  

Strategic Management Search & Recruitment Career Transition