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6 Critical Factors for Successful Outplacement

Businesses continually need to strategically review and realign operating models and structures in order to deliver key business objectives. Sustained, ongoing reviews and learning around people planning are essential in order to ensure the people agenda supports business priorities. Realignment and structural changes have become the new ‘normal’ within business today. The resulting output could be losing people which makes outplacement a critical element of people strategy.

Organisations are continually aspiring to be an employer of choice. Outplacement and the support of exiting employees with dignity and respect should form a critical element of the employee lifecycle. Over the last 30 years, We have supported countless organisations and individuals through the process, here are our 6 critical factors for outplacement success:

1. Leadership team involvement. It is critical for HR to involve leadership teams in the development of all aspects of the employee engagement strategy, including partnering fully with outplacement providers. The leadership teams will need to work closely with the provider and give a thorough briefing on the business changes as well as the organisation’s values, goals and future business strategy drivers. It is important that the leadership team also take the time to understand the services the provider is offering, how it will be delivered and ensure the outplacement coaches are fully supporting individuals. The resulting outplacement should help to take the pressure away from your HR and Management teams, knowing that exiting individuals are getting the best possible support.

2. Consider the personal position of every employee. Ensure your outplacement process will take the time to understand what makes each individual tick, recognise their strengths and vulnerabilities and help them move forwards in a way that is right for them. Outplacement is an incredible opportunity for many employees, perhaps facilitating a significant life change whether that’s early retirement, a career change or entrepreneurship.

3. Be clear about what exiting employees can expect. Set realistic expectations within your organisation. Good outplacement should help each affected individual to understand their route to market, discover their USP and create their personal brand. This will enable the employee to develop their skills and confidence so they can market themselves in a credible and authentic way. The process should provide; practical support with creating a great CV, interview skills and preparation, negotiating a package, elevator pitch, network management and support over the first 90 days. Equally important is the provision of emotional support throughout the employee’s journey including equipping the individual to deal with and learn from any knockbacks.

4. Always exit people with dignity and respect. The company has a duty of care to ensure that leaving the business is as positive an experience as possible for the employee. It’s important that the employee feels safe and supported through their transition and leaves feeling that they’ve been looked after. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s also crucial for brand reputational management.

5. Consider those that are left behind. Don’t just focus on the employees leaving you. Those who remain will be feeling the impact of any changes too and are likely to be feeling exposed and uncomfortable which has clear ramifications for productivity and staff retention. It’s vital your leadership teams instill confidence within your employees ensuring that they have the confidence to progress within the organisation, providing clarification on; what they can expect going forwards, how they will be measured and have clearly defined career pathways.

6. Manage exiting Executives sensitively. Executives who are leaving the organisation, not through their own choice, are often excepted from consideration of the ongoing support they need to move on including help defining ‘what next’. In fact, execs are often left feeling very vulnerable with fears around impacts on their lifestyle level, family and personal brand. Exec level roles can also be harder to find due to the high levels of seniority, income and experience. Specialised support is fundamental to help the transition with a focus on; how to work with Head-hunters and executive search organisations, network maximisation and financial impact assessment.

Gaye Morris, Chair & Executive Coach, Next Steps Consulting.

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