Sizing Up Outplacement Providers

By Theresa Minton-Eversole Jul 17, 2014
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Conversations regarding reductions in workforce are never easy, but consider including outplacement services in the discussion. Companies that provide outplacement solutions to displaced workers can decrease unemployment-related expenses and improve their employer brand.

Outplacement services should be simple and tailored to fit with the company’s existing internal processes. Providers should be subject matter experts who can discuss best practices to help companies enhance their outplacement, not by changing processes but by adding value for the HR team and affected employees.

To ensure their organization selects the appropriate outplacement provider, companies need to ask the following questions:

How will former employees’ successes in finding new employment be tracked?

“In outplacement, return on investment is crucial for the company and former employees,” said Kim Johnson, vice president of sales for career transition services company RiseSmart. “This return needs to be measurable. It’s imperative that the outplacement provider has a way for HR managers to quickly access information about former employees’ progress. Reports should be available on demand and should contain relevant and useful information, such as how long it takes former employees to land their next jobs; how that [timeframe] benchmarks with the national average, which is currently about 240 days; and how likely it is that affected employees will speak highly of their former employer.”

How can the company ensure that its outplacement services are relevant to impacted employees?

“Outplacement solutions should be highly personalized with customized, flexible services for talent at all levels, ranging from entry-level employment to senior executives. Those services should support talent, whether they are pursuing a new job in the same industry, a career change, creative retirement, or entrepreneurship and consulting. And these programs must be shaped based on people’s real needs and actual feedback,” said Johnson.

“Companies should ask providers how long these services have been offered, and if they are continuing to build and test these services based on measurable feedback from users. Companies should also be sure that any technology offered enhances the outplacement services, such as integrating job leads with social networks to reveal networking opportunities. The best providers will make sure that all of their services are useful enough for former employees to actually see results and get back to work.”

How do the chosen outplacement services provide resources, value and motivation to displaced employees?

“An effective outplacement provider doesn’t just schedule interviews for employees,” said Johnson. “The provider makes sure each individual has the support of a proactive team of specialists with expertise in the most impactful elements of a job search to hold transitioning talent accountable for their re-employment and make sure that employees’ quality of life improves. Through these specialists, transitioning talent is offered quality job leads, effective personal branding, industry insight, actionable advice and tools for successfully navigating the contemporary job search, such as leveraging one’s network, using LinkedIn in the job search or building your personal brand. Finally, a good outplacement provider honestly measures its success and proactively reports the important data and trends, while using this information to improve its services.”

Companies should make sure that investing in outplacement services is top of mind when planning a workforce reduction. It could mean the difference between employees feeling the negative impacts of a business decision or finding value—and a new job—faster.

Theresa Minton-Eversole is an online editor/manager for SHRM.​

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