Outplacement Services - How To Choose the Right Company
By Doris Lowell
"Outplacement: The process of helping redundant workers find new employment."
It's usually not an easy task to terminate a staff member. There's the obvious emotional discomfort surrounding the decision to let an employee go, and of course delivering the "bad news" is a highly charged moment too. Add to this the possible financial and legal exposure, and it becomes clear terminating staff is not something you should undertake lightly, which is why the transition process should be handled by a professional.
Once an employee's termination has been decided, it's not uncommon for an employer to struggle with the emotions of the decision, after all, we are only human and it's difficult ensuring we remain detached and "business-like" about the event. In truth this is quite hard for many people, and even if it isn't, the potential for a misspoken word or inappropriate comment during the final moments of the termination is too high to leave to chance.
Another good reason for choosing a professional outplacement firm is not quite as obvious as ensuring the avoidance of unnecessary legal battles. Using an outplacement company lets the employer maintain cordial relations with the remaining staff. Morale issues are important at the best of times, and more so during times of recession or staff layoffs. Staff need to understand the process of outplacement has been handled professionally and with the greatest respect.
For a company that has never selected an outplacement firm before there are a few key issues to consider.
- Location of Outplacement Firm in relation to the out-placed staff. No out-placed staff will welcome commuting back to their old employers location simply because their past-employer didn't stop to think about how it would affect them. Always think about the good-will it creates with the employee if the outplacement service provider is conveniently located.
- Compare the facilities of the outplacement firm. Ensure the selected company has a sufficiently welcoming and comfortable environment. Remember the out-placed staff will be dealing with many issues, and a pleasant atmosphere will help to ease the transition.
- Ensure the outplacement firm uses real people. It sounds odd, but there are firms operating with a very cavalier attitude toward out-placed staff. At times the out-placed staff are essentially left to "do it themselves" using only online materials and books - strictly a self-directed, electronic model with little or no human contact. A professional outplacement firm ensures real counsellors are available to meet with and coach the out-placed staff member throughout the entire process - a "high touch" model.
Each out-placed staff member is different. Ensure the outplacement
company assesses and customizes the process accordingly. A
one-size-fits-all mentality is not appropriate and should be avoided.
- Pay for what is used. Some outplacement firms charge even if the out-placed staff member doesn't use the services - as long as a contract exists, you get charged. With the best outplacement companies, you only pay if the service is used by your out-placed staff.
The important thing to remember when considering an outplacement services company is this: out-placed staff can become your greatest supporters if you treat them with respect and dignity, therefore choose an outplacement company that is high touch and high integrity. Remember, business is a "people process" and sometimes outplacement is necessary part of business.