Outplacement agency or outplacement provider – what’s the difference?

When employees leave your organisation, voluntarily or otherwise, it can be a difficult time for them, for your remaining employees, and for your HR team. Expert outplacement to support people transitioning into a new role can, therefore, benefit everyone.

While it’s always good to be able to ‘soften the blow’, this isn’t where outplacement delivers tangible value to your organisation. The real value is in keeping employees engaged throughout the process, whether they are leaving or staying, and that’s important for maintaining productivity. It can also help protect your brand through difficult times, underlining your organisation’s commitment to its people.

Not all outplacement providers created equal though. Although people will often use a variety of terms interchangeably to describe different classes of outplacement provider, the fact remains that there are different approaches to outplacement. For clarity, in this article we’ll be using two terms to differentiate between outplacement providers. Providers at the lower end of the spectrum, providing a basic service that may not meet all your needs, we’ll refer to as outplacement agencies. At the other end of the spectrum, we’ll refer to providers of bespoke, quality outplacement support (such as Connor) as outplacement service providers. Let’s examine the differences in choosing an outplacement agency to choosing an outplacement service provider.

Three key indicators of outplacement quality

If you’re looking for outplacement at a time of budget or cash-flow constraints, it can be tempting to select the cheapest option, even if it isn’t quite what you’re looking for. A bespoke solution needn’t cost that much more though — after all, you’re only paying for what you need and cutting out the rest.

We’ve evaluated the agency vs. service provider approach in three key areas — price/flexibility, quality of service and effectiveness — to see what differences you might experience:

Outplacement Agency

Outplacement Service Provider

Price vs. flexibility

Agencies tend to operate at the lower end of the price range, so they’re more likely to allocate a set number of hours to an individual or the organisation. This can be a pressured, uncomfortable experience for leavers, and won’t necessarily result in them finding a new role.

A good service provider will give you a bespoke quote for outplacement support, and stay with your leavers for as long as it takes for them to find their next opportunity.

Quality of service

A one-size-fits-all approach won’t take into account the unique and complex needs of individuals in your organisation. If agencies are simply focused on moving people through a process, you may well find that they provide your leavers with bland, generic advice, and fail to motivate your leavers properly to engage with outplacement. On the one hand this is of course a waste of your investment, but also doesn’t help your leavers feel comfortable about moving on.

A service provider is much more likely to put your leavers front and centre of everything they do. They’ll first take care to properly motivate your leavers to engage with outplacement, helping them understand what it can do for them. Much more than a ‘box-ticking’ exercise, outplacement service providers will support your leavers in a number of ways, which could include outplacement workshops, training, expert careers advice, and one-to-one coaching. Best-in-class outplacement service providers will also work hard to match leavers to consultants they feel comfortable working with – at any level in your organisation. In fact, the calibre of their consultants should mean that they can help place even your most senior executives.

Quality of outcome

Outplacement agencies might pick off the low-hanging fruit, offering a quick-and-easy CV check or pushing your leavers towards a new job without considering their aspirations and goals. Unsurprisingly, this approach doesn’t necessarily lead to the best outcomes for your leavers, meaning they may not stay in their new role and are less likely to look back favourably on their outplacement with you.

The best outplacement service providers recognise that the world of work is changing. Permanent jobs are no longer the only option for people in need of a new role. Providers who put your leavers first will therefore ask your leavers, “What do you want to do with your career?” and then help get them there.

Make your outplacement investment work for you

While change can be difficult, a good outplacement service provider can help your organisation turn it into a positive, even uplifting experience. By putting your people first, you are much more likely to achieve the right outcome for leavers, and create a happier, more productive atmosphere for everyone. And that increase in morale, productivity and positive brand image all adds up to a great return on your investment.

Connor has been delivering practical outplacement advice and support for over 25 years, for clients including Blackberry, Avid Technology, Mitel and Whirlpool. Click here to find out more about outplacement for organisations with Connor and if you’d like to have a chat to see how we can help you through your outplacement process, please call us on +44 (0)1491 414 010 for a free initial consultation.


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