Outplacement: Not Just for Big Business
By Diane Dunton
One of the most difficult tasks human resource professionals manage is job eliminations and how a company handles its outplacement can have a dramatic impact on the exiting employee and many others.
Eliminations involve assisting senior management with which jobs are being cut and preparing the communication to the whole organization. Notifying employees that their job is eliminated is often the role of HR, whether it's alongside a supervisor or in a separate, follow-up conversation.
Creating a Process
As part of a job elimination process, options for employees need to be identified. In large companies, employees losing jobs may have opportunities to take on special projects, apply for unfilled positions or transfer to another location. With small businesses, this is often not the case. Employees whose jobs are being eliminated are given one week, two weeks or, in some cases, longer notice of their termination date. Planning how you can help to improve a difficult situation is worth the investment.
Understanding the Effects of Job Elimination
For the employee being terminated, immediate anxiety arises as to what will they do, how they will manage their finances, and what will they do about benefits. Employees may be angry toward the company, frustrated with the situation and in shock.
The Company's Role
The role of the company is to minimize the anxiety by providing services that assist the employee with transitioning to new opportunities. This can be accomplished in a cost-effective way.
Here are some options for immediate assistance and services:
- Contact colleagues in similar industries to let them know your company is eliminating some positions and see if they have any open positions. Forward your employees resumes to their human resources department.
- Provide on-site workshops on resume writing, cover letters, networking and interviewing skills.
- Develop a list of resources including the State's career center locations, names of financial planners and career/outplacement counselors in the area.
- If funding is available, provide off-site sessions with a career/outplacement counselor. These individuals can assist with managing the emotions of job loss, provide direction and assistance.
These services can provide relief and support to your employees. Assisting them with the emotions surrounding job elimination can turn a difficult situation into a positive experience with new opportunities.
Outplacement's Positive Impact
Director of Human Resources, Barbara Bartlett, recently heard from an employee whose job was eliminated and had been provided limited outplacement assistance. She forwarded the following note to the career/outplacement service provider:
"I just wanted to pass along a conversation I had with Mary today. She really gained from your coaching upon termination and has found happiness in a design career. It is confirmation that outplacement works and employers need to make that investment. I thought I would pass along to you that you made a positive impact on her future and her life."
A Worthwhile Investment
Eliminating jobs due to tough economic conditions is a reality for many small businesses. Providing options and services, even if they are limited, can go a long way in making the best out of a very difficult business situation.