Career Transition Redundancy Restructures

9 tips for choosing the best outplacement provider

Following an organisational restructure, there are many “audiences” watching how displaced people are treated and how they subsequently fare. Yet relatively few organisations handle the human element of restructures and redundancies well. However, when employees are treated with respect and given the support to transition to the next stage of their career via the use of an outplacement provider, this sends clear (positive!) signals about an employer’s “employee value proposition”.

If your organisation does choose to provide outplacement services to affected employees, it is important you choose the right provider. Inadequate outplacement services have the power to reflect negatively on the organisation offering support to its affected employees.

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 How can you be certain that the company you choose to engage will provide the unique transition support your employees need? Whether the restructure requires the transition of one employee or one hundred employees, the quality and value of the support to the transitioning employee is paramount.  

Below are 9 key areas to consider when selecting the best outplacement provider for your organisation:

  1. Expertise

Before engaging with an outplacement provider, have a clear understanding of levels of employees affected and the type of support you are looking for. Then check the provider’s expertise in providing this type of support. For example, if you require support for middle to senior managers from the financial sector, check the outplacement providers experience in providing support to this level of individual from the sector.

  1. Coach expertise

Our experience in this industry has taught us that one-to-one interactions between a qualified coach and coachee is the most beneficial aspect of the service – and anyone who has been through an outplacement program will verify this. The quality of the career coaching received depends on the expertise and experience of the coaches and the provider’s ability to match the individual with the most appropriate coach. It is important to understand the level of coaches available and their professional background, how the outplacement provider matches coaches to individuals and how they train, accredit and monitor the quality of their coaches.

Finally, it’s especially important to work with a provider whose coaches are current in today’s job market and who can expertly guide their clients through making the most of online jobs boards and social media in their job search. This is particularly important for those affected that have not been in the job market for some time, as they can be particularly overwhelmed by how much it has changed since they last looked for work.

  1. Tailored services

Everyone has a different driver when it comes to transitioning to the next stage of their career. For some, the motivation will be to quickly find financial security in a similar role to the one they have been performing. For others, it will be reviewing their experience to this point and assessing the different ways they could apply this experience including self-employment or a portfolio career. Regardless of the individual’s plans, the chosen outplacement provider should offer an adaptable solution that addresses and meets the individual needs and ambitions of those it is supporting.

Providing your affected employees with a program where the they can tailor their coaching time to suit their unique career situation is not only beneficial to the individual but also clearly demonstrates the value of the support you have provided to them and consequently, can work to protect and improve your employer brand.

As you go out to market for the right outplacement provider, you are guaranteed to find that the proposals all sound similar and are likely to be somewhat comparable on price.  It can help to differentiate these services by asking questions to determine whether the provider offers individuals the chance to talk to or meet with the coach ahead of their program as a chemistry check and to determine what is on offer, how they can get the most from it and how to tailor it to their own needs.

  1. Program clarity

When exploring outplacement providers, you will find that some services are strong on content, with workbooks or rich internet sites but are very light on one-on-one coaching and have an inability to tailor their services to the needs of individuals. Others are strong in coaching, but light in terms of materials and commercial insights, especially in relation to business formation.

Whatever the structure, it is important to understand exactly what the outplacement program includes at each level.

Trevor-Roberts employs a variety of tools including a dedicated career coach for one-on-one sessions, a range of practical workshops to build the individual’s skills as they search for their next role and access to our online portal to support learning and development.

  1. Fee clarity

It is important to be clear on exactly what is included in the pricing and what is not. Enquire about project management fees and whether the costs of program materials are extra.

Also, be sure you are only paying for what is used. Some outplacement firms charge even if the affected individuals don't use the services - if a contract exists, you get charged.  With the best outplacement companies, you only pay if the service is used by the affected employees.

Finally, ensure you are comparing apples with apples when considering several providers and be very aware that you will get what you pay for and the commercial risk of compromising on quality may be significant. The cheapest is NOT always the best!

  1. Ability to support national or large-scale projects

If you are managing a large-scale restructure project, the support required is likely to be complex, often involving several sites and tight timeframes. As a result, the outplacement provider should offer strong project management abilites and seamless service in each affected location. In this instance, it is beneficial to check the outplacement provider’s experience in dealing with large-scale, multi-site projects and request references from previous clients where available.

When dealing with remote or regional locations and sites, it is important to confirm how the provider will support the affected individuals. Do they have the resources to support employees locally (or can they make them available) or are individuals expected to travel to the nearest office. Alternatively, does the provider have the infrastructure to seamlessly conduct the one-on-one coaching sessions remotely using technology such as Skype or Go-To meeting?

  1. Frameworks, approaches and philosophies

Outplacement programs should be based on frameworks that are supported by contemporary evidence and global findings. Programs based in evidence will give you an indication the level of expertise provided. Trevor-Roberts outplacement framework empowers each person to take practical career actions based on 5 Pillars of an Extraordinary Career.  Enquire about the provider’s approach to outplacement support for employees at every level. An administration assistant will have different needs to an executive and this should be reflected in the provider’s approach. This is an element that can often make or break a fruitful career transition for the program participant.  

The supplier should be able to demonstrate how creative, fresh career alternatives are developed and supported, including in variations of self-employment (embracing areas such as business formation, consulting and winning directorships). These areas show evidence of the supplier’s ability to tailor services around wide-ranging individual differences.

  1. Transformational, not transactional

A provider that partners with your organisation instead of taking a transactional approach will ensure that you receive the best solutions for your business that focus on adding value to your unique situation. It is advisable to explore options for additional support from the provider that will ensure your project runs smoothly. This could include services such as announcement day support, where the provider is present on the day of announcements to assist those managing the project as well as the affected employees.

  1. Quality of service

How does the provider measure the satisfaction of their program participants? Depending upon the length of a client’s program, not all individuals will complete their transition whilst on a program. When this occurs, a separate indicator of success is knowledge and benefit gained from the program coupled with the change in mindset of the individual to better deal with their career transition. Questions to ask the provider include how the provider handles and rectifies negative feedback from clients or participants? The provider should also offer regular feedback reports on each individual. Remember, poor outplacement support not only reflects on the outplacement provider, but also impacts on your organisation and your employer brand in the future.

The important thing to remember when considering an outplacement provider is this: affected employees can become your greatest supporters if you treat them with respect and dignity. It seems obvious to say then, that it is critical to choose an outplacement company that is high touch and high integrity and will appropriately guide the affected individuals through this career transition.

Remember, business is a "people process" and sometimes outplacement is a necessary part of business.

What has your experience been choosing an appropriate outplacement provider for your organisation? We'd love to hear from you in the comments section below...

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Career Transition, Redundancy, Restructures