Every year, companies make the difficult decision to let some of their workforce go. This is for various reasons from lack of enough work to departmental closures. When this occurs, it can negatively impact the morale of all employees, which alters the corporate culture from one of productivity to one that can easily become a mess. Human resource directors can soften the blow to affected employees by having a plan of action in place to compassionately provide outplacement and resume support to terminated employees.
How to Make Layoffs Less Worrisome and More Productive
A little compassion directed towards employees can go a long way. Just the effort of letting employees know that the company has the best interest of employees at heart can be enough to reduce tension and make for a more positive transition. In most cases, organizations will choose to work with a third party outplacement service that offers a wide range of support for employees. This is a choice that frees human resources up to deal with other internal matters, including the realignment of employees with new corporate goals.
The business benefits of working with an outplacement service are many, including:
An Increased Sense of Loyalty by Employees
When employees know that the company cares about their immediate future, they are more apt to stay loyal to the company brand for longer. Consider that employees may eventually be working for a competing firm someday soon. Or they may become a client of the company. Protecting the loyalty and brand of the company goes a lot further than just a temporary job layoff. The outplacement service can help preserve and promote the brand of your company throughout the process.
Retains Talent and Fosters Goodwill
A compassionate layoff that utilizes an outplacement service can help to retain talent until the time they leave the company. Fostering goodwill by providing job search support, resume writing, interview preparation, and job referrals can ensure that employees remain engaged and focused on their jobs. This is a good move. Employees leave knowing they have a safety net and the company knows that there won't be as much negative press during this difficult time.
Sets Employees up for Success
Companies can do much to help employees establish the foundation for a better future career. For example, workplace training can be coordinated with partner firms to place some of the workforce into jobs by the time layoffs occur. Resume writing and cover letter reviews by qualified job coaches can help employees to line up the right jobs sooner. Others may choose to head back to school to earn a degree, and this can be supported as well. In any case, a company that is hired to help employees with these matters can provide individual attention that can set them up for success in their career.
Cost Savings for Businesses
It’s long been known that it costs a great deal in time and money to replace even one lost employee. A Huffington Post article highlighted a Society of Human Resource Management survey that indicated it can cost up to nine months of an employee’s salary to replace him or her. But this is just scratching the surface of the costs that companies incur. Consider the loss of productivity, the cost of sourcing and interviewing new hires, the time and cost of training each new hire, and the unknown costs of a disgruntled employee. If a company offers outplacement support and resume writing, all of this can be cut down drastically.
Reduces Risks and Even Crime
Imagine being in the shoes of an employee who has just been notified that the job that has been held so dearly is about to end. Now imagine that same employee becoming increasingly update because he is getting let go, while others are staying employed and earning a lot more money. This is what often goes through the mind of employees when they hear of a layoff. This can lead to various forms of corporate sabotage, up to and including not performing work on the company time clock, being disruptive to business operations, stealing resources and even clients. Think about the other serious problems that can arise out of a negative event like a mass layoff. For example, an incident of workplace violence, or a robbery perpetrated by an angry employee.
A third party that can offer counseling and job placement is in a position for identifying any potential troublemakers and then focusing their energy on getting a new job. If an employee gets out of hand, the process of letting them go can happen much faster and off company property. The outplacement service is a more objective party that can reduce these types of problems simply by offering an alternative to employees.
Reducing the Rumor Mill and Handles Damage Control
When employees find out that they could be losing their jobs, or if they hear rumblings of a layoff, things can quickly spiral out of control. The short term impact of a negative layoff situation is nothing compared to the damage that rumors of layoffs can do to a company’s brand. There should not be any question then that a third party that has experience dealing with big brands has the tools to protect the reputation of any company. Rumors do nothing more than break down the morale and reduce engagement levels of employees. Stopping them in their tracks is critical to a successful and compassionate layoff process.
How Is This Accomplished?
There are a few steps that any company can take to prevent rumors from taking down the company brand — both internally and in the public sense.
- Notify all employees as soon as possible in writing. There are legal guidelines for doing this the current way, under the federal WARN Act. In most cases, a written letter along with a corporate meeting will suffice. For companies with remote employees, be sure they also receive an email version of the same notice as well as a mailed copy to avoid delayed response.
- Hold a series of informational forums with the impacted teams. This allows employees to get first-hand information about the layoff process, dates this will occur, and access to resources like job placement and resume support. Have a member of the human resource leadership team and the outplacement services vendor on hand to field any questions or concerns that come in.
- Encourage employees to make use of the available outplacement counseling. Management teams should have the proper information that will enable them to educate employees where there can get help with their career plans. Floor management should stop any gossip in its track and ask employees to set up a meeting with them if they have questions or need more information.
- Do not allow alienation. One of the most damaging aspects of a layoff is when the company becomes divided along the lines of employees who are leaving vs. those who are staying behind. Resentments can easily build up and people being to alienate each other. Respect for others to reduce back-talking should be emphasized and demonstrated by managers.
- Deal with the public with an announcement. What happens inside a company rarely ever stays behind closed doors. Employees take the bad news home to discuss with their spouses family members, and friends. Soon, the entire neighborhood knows about it. Make it a point to send a notice to local news sources to announce the layoff in general terms. This can protect the company from false information being misused.
- Conduct damage control online. The ever-increasing transparent world we live in creates many traps for unprepared companies. It takes seconds for an employee to post a nasty comment about a company on a social network, a company review site, or in another public forum. It can take months of hair-pulling effort to have such comments stricken or removed from websites. In the case of social media, the comments are forever. A third party agency can provide a healthy outlet for employees, which can help prevent these embarrassing issues.
No one is very comfortable when it comes to a layoff situation, no matter what the reason is. Even seasoned human resource professionals become nervous when they must begin to reduce the workforce. This is a last ditch effort to control costs or save a company in many cases, so it's fraught with worry. HR also knows that it's normal to expect the worst from people, especially when it comes to their livelihoods. It's never a pleasant experience to tell someone they are losing a job and income. However, understanding that an outsourced solution that provides job leads, placement, and resume reviews can improve the circumstances.
Human resource managers can place their focus and time on making sure they are compliant with notifying employees of their final salaries, benefits, bonuses, and other aspects of an otherwise difficult transition. This is also an advantage because it takes the burden off the shoulders of HR and places this on another agency that has the experience to handle things well.
Employees benefit from outplacement services because they have a safety net from which to form a reasonable plan to tackle finishing out their current job while they also find a new job. This is very comforting to most employees. The service is offered to employees to freely take advantage of, which can give them a sense of control over the situation. This can by itself reduce many problems and upsets. Teams can continue to function well and departing employees leave with a positive experience behind them.