My company has specialised in helping employees manage change and redundancy for more than 20 years. During that time, we have witnessed many changes to the outplacement services that Managers and HR look for when helping their employees who are facing the loss of their job.
With the growth of technology revolutionising so many aspects of the employment landscape, it’s natural that online tools and recruitment databases start to present as an outplacement option for organisations to consider. Garnished with just the right dose of techno-jargon to be perceived as advanced and sophisticated and accompanied by claims that this will lead to swift job search success, it’s understandable that Managers can be taken in by promises for their employees that sadly are seldom actually realised.
Personally, try as I might, I fail to see how assistance and support that minimises human contact at a time when it is needed the most, can actually offer a great deal of personal value.
In our experience, for many employees, redundancy is a raw and overwhelming experience. It may even come with little to no warning. It often leaves affected individuals reeling and experiencing a very real sense of loss and isolation.
Not knowing what to do next and often lacking the self-confidence and motivation to even get started, is a common reaction we encounter in the outplacement coaching we provide that no login and password based resource will ever be advanced enough to address.
Business decision makers need to understand that the success of technology driven assistance depends heavily on a vulnerable employee being able to successfully plot their own course. At the same time, they are told they will find their next job through the outplacement provider’s own recruitment database that will hold the exact available role, matching their exact skills, at the exact level of seniority, at the exact time that the employee is seeking a new job and in the exact location they wish to live and work. Then when this exact job is found, they still face the interview with the hiring manager who will always make the final selection decision. Some would describe the chance of success as akin to winning the national lottery.
What’s more, this is about as sterile as outplacement in the truest sense of the word, can get.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to the ever-growing impact of technology and the digital age which has touched learning in very profound and exciting ways. But when it comes to addressing the diverse and unique needs people experience with redundancy, nothing comes close to the efficacy of face to face coaching and the practical support that focuses on individual pressure points and re-builds personal confidence.
From a business perspective, presenting people with technology dominated support in response to redundancy, often results in employees perceiving that they continue to be on the receiving end of another step in a business process; just another discarded cog in the wheel.
This perception fuels feelings of being devalued, even manipulated and definitely unappreciated by the business they are leaving. When our company has been engaged to pick up the pieces, we have witnessed the very real consequences on morale, business brand and productivity when remaining employees have observed this type of process and have perceived the business to place little to no value on its people.
If the business objective in providing outplacement to departing employees is genuinely to assist people to land back on their feet as quickly as possible, then business decision makers need to choose the approach carefully.
Alternatives to technology driven support and assistance are available and don’t need to be costly to minimise risk and to produce rapid results.