Employees who have to say goodbye to many years of work often see the reason for this situation in themselves. A good outplacement program will help them take a more realistic perspective and make the change of job a chance to start a new and interesting stage in their lives.
Outplacement is a different kind of monitored dismissals. Under this somewhat mysterious name there is a programme consisting in providing help and support to employees dismissed due to "employer's fault". This assistance should primarily concern the search for new employment opportunities.
Who is outplacement for?
Under the Employment Promotion Act, an employer who intends to make at least 50 employees redundant within 3 months is required to organise a programme for the people who are to be made redundant which can be carried out by the employment office, employment agency or specialised companies. The programme is mainly financed by the employer or in agreement between the employer and the relevant units.
However, more and more often outplacement is also organized voluntarily by companies which are not obliged to do so by law. They do so both out of concern for their employees and in order to protect their good image.
- We have to be aware that the employee's market is emerging. In the times of social media, dissatisfied employees, especially those who received a notice, will immediately share their situation with others - notes Anna Grzywaczyk, HR Project Director at WNCL consulting company. - The outplacement program (called Career Transition) also affects people who remain in the company, giving them a clear signal that in case of further redundancies, no employee will be left alone - she adds.
Outplacement can include many different forms of assistance, including psychological counseling, career counseling, assistance in finding a new job, determining the optimal path of professional and personal development, financing of further training courses, advice on starting your own business, legal advice, assistance in moving to a new place of residence, assistance in shaping a professional image or in properly preparing an attractive CV.
How does outplacement help employees?
Outplacement gives an opportunity to alleviate the stress of losing a job. But of course this is not the end of it. The best result of a well-conducted programme will be finding a new job, and this still during the programme period. This is of course the most desirable goal, but not always possible to achieve in such a short time. The programme lasts for a maximum of several months, while the average period of seeking a job in Poland is about 12 months.
The programme should focus on such aspects which will allow the employee to increase his or her chances of finding employment in the shortest possible time. It is important that the programme participant uses all available opportunities to stand out from other candidates on the labour market.
A consultant assigned to an employee under the programme should ensure that the employee has short and long-term career plans. It is important that he or she identifies a list of potential employers, learns how to search for a job effectively, builds up or develops contacts that can help him or her to find new employment.
The employee should also prepare for recruitment interviews and learn how to negotiate employment conditions. No less important is also to find positive sides in this situation, build or refresh his image, regain faith in his capabilities and recognize his strengths.
- It should be remembered that the outplacement programme may include people who have worked in one organisation for 10 or 20 years. Sometimes they do not know at all how much the labour market has changed during this time and how to move around it. So it is important that the programme opens up new opportunities for the redundant employees. It is worth to strive for a situation in which an employee will have the feeling that it is thanks to the redundancy that he or she has started a new stage in his or her life - says Anna Grzywaczyk.
A properly conducted program will allow the employee to feel appreciated and see the reason for the dismissal in factors beyond his control.
How does outplacement help the company?
The implementation of the system of soft layoffs may also bring many benefits to the company which decided to reduce its workforce. Organizations using outplacement projects record fewer lawsuits from dismissed employees (and, consequently, awarded damages), which is a very tangible benefit of the program.
By honestly presenting the reasons for the dismissal, the employer reduces the risk of the dismissed employee spreading negative opinions. Consequently, outplacement helps to maintain the image of a good employer both in the internal and external environment, which means that the company can still be well perceived by customers, labour market institutions and the local community.
- Our experience shows that in the short term the offer of such a programme not only reduces the absenteeism of redundant workers in the last months or weeks of work, but also has a positive impact on the level of their motivation and commitment until the end of their employment. Outplacement therefore maximizes the chance to achieve the organization's goals despite the redundancies - says Iwona Wencel, President of WNCL.
Thanks to the outplacement programme, also the employees remaining in the company receive proof that even if the company makes difficult decisions, it supports its employees and helps them to find new employment. This builds a sense of security and trust in the company, which, if further actions of this kind are necessary, may protect against the costs of increased absenteeism, loss of talents or decrease in motivation.
On your own or on commission?
Whether the outplacement will be carried out by the employee on his/her own or by a specialized external company does not have to be decisive for the quality of the whole process. It is worth noting, however, that the programme implemented by the company making the layoffs may be an additional burden for HR departments, which have no experience in this type of activities.
Outplacement commissioned to an external company ensures greater objectivity and experience of experts. Unfortunately, however, such a solution also means higher costs, which makes it possible to recommend it mainly to large companies. Therefore, the final decision may depend on the financial capabilities of the organization.
However, the most important thing is to carry out such a programme at all. It is best to recognize that due to many years of cooperation, redundant employees should simply be helped by the employer in such a difficult moment. And a well conducted outplacement will benefit both parties.