Benefits and Compensation, HR Management & Compliance

Q&A: How to Help Laid-Off Employees and Your Organization

When employees leave amicably, offering them a benefit to help them find a new job could have a great return on investment (ROI).

Source: Steve Debenport / E+ / Getty

I recently spoke on the subject with Yair Riemer, President of Career Transition Services at CareerArc.

HR Daily Advisor: For those who might not be aware, what is outplacement, and how can it work as a benefit?

Riemer: Outplacement is a benefit companies can offer to show their continued investment in employees’ futures beyond company lines. This benefit is typically offered to transitioning employees during times of layoffs or even to “trailing” spouses when an employee relocates, helping them navigate their next career move. It can easily be added to an existing benefits package (similar to other perks employers may offer like health, vision, dental, 401(k), etc.) and generally includes access to a career coach, job search guidance, résumé reviews, and mock interview prep.

HR Daily Advisor: I can see how outplacement can help laid-off employees, but what value does it have for employers?

Riemer: In our most recent CareerArc Employer Branding Study, we found that only 1 in 5 candidates would apply to a 1-star-rated company, and 64% of consumers have stopped purchasing from a brand after hearing news of that company’s poor treatment of employees.

We live in a day and age when social media and job review sites create the need for employers to take a proactive approach in protecting their brand. In the past, outplacement was reserved for C-suite-level employees during a transition because that’s where the social clout was, but with the Internet and social media, the tide has shifted, and employees at all levels have a voice and network that can be impacted by a poor experience with a company. That’s where outplacement services can come in—to help transitioning employees find work faster, leaving them feeling better about the company and their overall experience.

In this war for talent, some companies even rehire former employees when circumstances change. This service is ultimately about supporting the employee through his or her entire experience with a company and doing the right thing.

HR Daily Advisor: How can organizations decide whether they could benefit from such a program?

Riemer: For companies that aren’t sure whether this is something they should provide to their employees, I would think about brand reputation ROI and—knowing that many companies offer outplacement, with a focus on their employer brand—how that could be impacted.

Providing outplacement not only helps individuals transitioning out of your organization but also helps with employee morale among those still part of your organization. If they see their former colleagues treated with courtesy, they are much more likely to stay, reducing expensive hiring costs.

HR Daily Advisor: What tips would you give a young organization that is just starting to get its name out there but might not be able to afford external help for such a program?

Riemer: It’s more affordable than companies may think. Think of it as the difference between Blockbuster and Netflix. Technology has completely revolutionized both the convenience and the affordability of outplacement services for both organizations and employees. So, I would first advise any company considering outplacement to look to affordable, digital solutions first.

For companies that might not yet be at the level of incorporating an outplacement benefit into their employee service offerings, I would strongly recommend creating an exit plan and protocol that are used with all transitioning employees. These can include taking the time to point them in the right direction or free career services during an exit interview, for instance. This type of help can ease the transition and give employees the feeling that the employer genuinely cares about their career path forward, which can make all the difference in how employees feel (and talk!) about a company.

HR Daily Advisor: Do organizations that use these kinds of benefits distinguish between which ex-employees can use the benefit?

Riemer: Companies have designated, and many still believe they have to reserve, outplacement for the C-suite and senior management. But technology has become a great democratizer. Virtual outplacement has empowered organizations to extend this benefit to an entire workforce, to make outplacement more accessible, and to serve a larger population who arguably can benefit the most from the available résumé review and career coaching.