How can organisations integrate outplacement support into their career management strategy?
The pandemic has changed the way that people view their careers, and how companies view hiring, training and transitioning employees. Yesterday’s outplacement designed solely as an exit strategy is being replaced with outplacement’s evolving role to build career mobility and make smarter decisions in a rapidly changing workforce: career transition management for the entire employee lifecycle.
As early as 1948, Merriam Webster added a definition of outplacement as “the process of easing unwanted or unneeded executives out of a company by providing company-paid assistance in finding them new jobs.” Fast-forward to 2021, companies are transforming that definition into a more well-rounded approach that considers the career journey for employees at every level from recruiting and retention to career growth and exit.
Here are three ways companies can better integrate outplacement into their overall workforce career management strategy:
Prepare for career mobility
Helping employees sculpt the versatility muscles required to shift with ease into other roles and industries is essential in these volatile times. Right Management data found that in the past several years, 49% of job candidates who went through an outplacement programme took on a new role in a different industry.
“Today employees are looking to get a broader set of advice than probably ten years ago when it was more about how can you help me land a job that looks very much like my last job,” said Louise Brookes, Employee Relations Regional Head for Standard Chartered Bank in the UK.
Now, Human Resources provides employees with insights about the job market, practical support and coaching so that they have confidence to take on a new role, even in a different industry.
This is especially important for employees of colour and women who have been underrepresented in growing industries such as tech. The Airbnb Connect programme, for example, places people from underrepresented backgrounds with mid-level experience in non-technical jobs on their engineering and data science teams. Through the programme, they learn much faster than with a traditional classroom experience.
Employees who go through outplacement programmes to expand their skillset often land new roles in more senior positions, with higher pay than they had in their previous role. In 2020, Right Management found that 79% of outplacement candidates moved to a new role with the same or higher position and 57% found a position with the same or higher salary.
Use insights to make better workforce decisions
The pandemic took most organisations by surprise with many unprepared for the tsunami of workforce change that happened almost overnight. Judging by this rapid pace of change, the next crisis or transformation is not far behind. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s how crucial agility is to business survival.
Organisations are realising that agility is tied to creating a positive employee experience, from feedback systems to diversity and inclusion programmes to skills development. Businesses that invest in employee experience are four times more profitable than those that don’t. Outplacement has an important role in the employee experience using data-driven assessments to help map the skills and capabilities of employees to ensure organisations leverage the right talent in the right place, at the right time.
These insights can also help determine adjacent skills which are related to a skill or competency an individual already has. While they typically are not targeted in job descriptions, adjacent skills play an essential role in enhancing an employee’s ability to perform their jobs more effectively and make him or her more marketable for new positions.
Guardian Life Insurance Company realised that it needed to upskill its professional workforce to leverage new technologies, such as car sensors and health monitors, that are generating data on health and habits that can help insurance companies better calculate risk. They went outside of the organisation to partner with General Assembly, a digital skills provider, to train actuaries through short workshops and intensive bootcamps.
Developing new, adjacent skills builds confidence in employees – a valuable soft skill that is often cited by HR leaders as one of the most important benefits of outplacement programmes.
Be ready for boomerangs
What do Lebron James, Steve Jobs and Jack Dorsey (Twitter’s CEO) have in common? They all left their employer and reunited to work with them again a few years later. This ‘boomerang’ employment approach is becoming more common, which adds credibility to an employer’s brand and improves employee experience and collaboration. Many HR leaders believe rehiring former employees can give their talent strategy an edge due to their institutional knowledge and familiarity with culture.
For a telecommunications company in the UK, outplacement has played a key role in inspiring former colleagues to return, according to their HR people change manager. That’s because ex-employees who have appreciated the organisation’s past outplacement efforts often act as advocates for the business.
“We do get a lot of people to return to us. And that’s part of the return on the outplacement investment,” she says.
Outplacement as part of the employment journey is not only an investment in future goodwill and reputation management, it’s essential to protect employees and create a robust long-term workforce career management strategy.
To learn more, download our latest whitepaper – “Careers in Transition: How will outplacement evolve to help companies and workers respond to upheaval?”