The role of outplacement in supporting HR success in 2019

Fraser Silvey

By Fraser Silvey

15 Feb 2019

2019 seems set to be another challenging year for the economy. In the face of so many rapidly changing variables, organisations are faced with continually analysing and adjusting strategy throughout 2019. With agility key to success, there’s an increasing need for frequent restructures as organisations strive to ensure they have the right skill sets to future-proof themselves.

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Restructure, whether it affects just one or numerous employees, can significantly damage productivity and loyalty if handled poorly. Thus the use of outplacement as a solution in 2019 is also expected to rise.

In 2019, "business as usual" won't be a sustainable strategy

The main threat in 2019 is to the "business as usual" model. There are too many disruptive variables at work to sustain this as a robust strategy. There are uncertainties over Brexit, other local political factors and the prospect of a possible trade war between the US and China has unsettled markets and planners. There is continuing globalisation and the further development of AI and robotics is about to make itself felt across not only the trade landscape, but in public sectors such as health and social care.

With a number of experts predicting a possible recession in developed economies, the storm clouds seem to be gathering.

Opportunities, for organisations that can adapt

The smartest organisations will recognise the opportunities present in this coming storm. Brexit, globalisation, robotics, AI, the Internet of Things - all provide opportunities to evolve your organisation and gain competitive advantage. The challenge is to transform your organisation so that it can take advantage of these opportunities. That means identifying weaknesses and eliminating them, whilst building up operational and strategic strength.

One route to achieving that transformation is to restructure the workforce, so that the people in it are the right fit with the emerging political, commercial and economic environment. Of course, this can lead to redundancies, with the risk of damage to productivity and morale across the entire workforce. And that's where outplacement support comes in. Outplacement support enables organisations to handle the redundancy side of a restructure with sensitivity and compassion, keeping exiting employees both motivated and engaged while their time at an organisation is winding down.

Ideal support for busy HR teams

HR functions may not have the spare capacity to deal with restructuring and redundancy in the way that can benefit employees the most, when they may also be busy with other important issues or BAU factors to keep the day-to-day running smoothly. This is especially true when you consider that in many organisations, HR departments are going through restructures themselves, with predictions for this to continue.

HR teams know what "good" outplacement means

Progressive HR departments value the support they get from outplacement professionals and often have a pretty shrewd idea as to which outplacement teams are outstanding performers. Some outplacement consultants arrive, hold a few cursory interviews and a CV writing workshop, and at the end of their eight- or twelve-week contract, they're gone. This isn't a good deal for employees and is likely to increase negative feelings towards the organisation.

One of the key differences between the HR role and outplacement assistance is that for HR, this is inevitably the end of a relationship, whereas with the outplacement professional, it's the beginning. This fact can change the attitude of the person being helped, from despondency to a positive outlook. For that reason, it's very important that the outplacement professional, like those at Connor, can offer career transition services that go right through to a satisfactory ending for the individual.

That might be a new role - and a really good outplacement professional will be able to quote many examples of people who have secured better paid and more fulfilling jobs after an outplacement project. But many people want to make more radical changes to their working lives, perhaps improving their work / life balance, or moving to a less than full time role, to give them time to volunteer, do something creative, or even start a new business. A great outplacement advisor will be experienced in helping people develop a portfolio of activities that are both economically sustainable and satisfying to the individual. Some outplacement services, like those Connor can provide, will even help an employee start their own business, working with them all the way through to their first invoice. This all helps to keep leavers engaged on their way out of the organisation.

The way leavers are treated affects those who stay

The way in which people leaving the organisation are treated will not go unnoticed by those who are remaining. A positive and caring approach to those who are receiving career transition services will boost the morale of those who are staying, because it demonstrates that they work for a good employer. Consequently their productivity will remain at optimal levels, and your organisation can maximise the effectiveness of its strategies for growth in 2019. And outplacement assistance can ensure this happens.

2019 will have its challenges - even threats - but it will have its opportunities too, for organisations that have the right skills, structure and people to take them on. For an informal chat about what might be happening in your organisation in the next 12 months and what that might mean in terms of change, contact Connor or call on 01491 414 010

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