What is outplacement?
Outplacement or outplacement consulting and – perhaps more positively associable – newplacement: All these terms stand for the professional support of departing employees (normally financed by the employer) for their professional reorientation. This service is offered by freelance outplacement consultants or specialised outplacement companies.
SMEs and large corporations as well as government institutions and associations use this service when they want to or have to part with employees. The forms are basically individual outplacement or group outplacement.
The idea behind this support is simple: the employer assumes social responsibility for the situation and wants to make the consequences for the employees as positive as possible in a “fair” separation situation. Both sides benefit from this:
“Outgoing employees are offered a new, attractive career perspective. The separation should be quick, amicable and fair.”
The employer avoids damage to his image as a bad employer, both internally and externally. Employees benefit from this because the employer pays a highly qualified coach for them. This coach leads you step by step to a new job, a new career or even to self-employment. There is no longer any reason to fear existencial problems or a break in your career.
Typical outplacement situations
Outplacement provides organizations with a very versatile tool to manage more easily structural and personal changes with employee layoffs in any situation. For example:
- change in business segements,
- company takeovers and
- relocation of workplaces,
- staff reduction or
- rationalisation measures and
- lack of employee performance.
Advantages for employers
Outplacement can offer the following advantages to your company:
- keeping the duration and costs of the separation situation under control
- more employee motivation and better employee retention for the remaining employees
- increased attractiveness for new applicants (employer branding)
- avoidance of damage to the image with interest groups (shareholders, customers, etc.)
- avoidance of litigation and its costs
- relief and exoneration of the operational human resources management
- change processes can be planned better
But does outplacement have any disadvantages for you?
You do not have any guarantee for the cooperation or loyalty of an employee during the outplacement. In the case of a time-limited outplacement, there is no guarantee that you will find a new position.
The selection of the outplacement partner is important: there are a few black sheep in the industry who are not competent or committed. Here, the ACF Switzerland (Association of Career Firms) is an aid to decision-making whose members are all certified. These disadvantages show the limits. However, the advantages outweigh by far the disadvantages.
Advantages for employees
Outplacement also offers real advantages to employees compared to a job search on your own:
provides emotional stabilisation and support in a crisis situation by personal coaching
helps you better recognize your own potential and use it for the next career step
gives general support for self-esteem in a difficult phase of life
finding of a new job is mostly faster
reduces financial and social consequences of dismissal
thus more quality of life despite dismissal
possibly with guaranteed job (depending on outplacement contract)
professional and emotional support during job search
with a lot of help and personal coaching
equally qualified support in setting up a business
And basically the most important thing for every dismissed employee: He is not left alone with his dismissal, the possible financial and social consequences or just the thought of it.
What types of outplacement are there?
After taking a look at the advantages and disadvantages of outplacement from an employer’s and employee’s point of view, we now proceed with a closer look at the concrete outplacement support.
You can organize an outplacement internally or buy it externally as a service. This decision is based on the size of the organization and the extent of outplacement needed.
In the past, the provision of individual advice and support to employees leaving the company was primarily reserved for managing directors and executives. This executive outplacement was increasingly supplemented by the advice of specialists, so that today a much larger group of people benefits from individual outplacement.
Despite many offers, experienced specialists or managers often do not find a new employer quickly on their own. Although they have always been successful professionally, they often find it difficult to market themselves.
The job market today is more demanding. When filling vacancies today, a detailed job profile is drawn up for each position and only candidates who largely meet it are considered at all (few compromises). This makes it more difficult to find a job without professional help.
With the outplacement consultant you will then develop a clear positioning in the job market with your personal application strategy and in the coaching sessions you will have a personal training for successful job interviews.
However, individual outplacement also has another decisive advantage: in many cases, consultants or outplacement companies also have a very good network in the labour market with recruiting organisations and headhunters. Thus they open doors to new positions on the hidden job market which the individual job seeker would not find alone.
Group outplacement becomes an instrument of positive separation management when a larger number of employees are to leave the organization at the same time. One or more outplacement consultants then support them as a group in seminars and workshops, but also in individual sessions to find personal solutions. Group outplacement is generally less expensive because of the type of consultation.
Group outplacement is used from the middle company levels downwards. More and more organisations have recently decided to extend the outplacement offer to all employees, including the lower levels.
Here, the number of terminations is usually higher. This results in many multipliers who can pass on their experiences from the separation process or make them public. Therefore, offering outplacement pays off in terms of corporate image or employer branding.
For a group outplacement, you can always calculate with lower costs than for an individual consultation (per person). The normally shorter time frame of the support will already provide for this. In actual fact there is no unlimited outplacement or outplacement with guarantee in group programs. The financial expense for this is too high.
e-Outplacement or digital Outplacement is a young area among outplacement services. It offers the individuality of an individual outplacement with low costs at a level similar to that of a group outplacement.
Your employees have no personal contact to their outplacement consultant. All communication takes place via digital channels, e.g. via e-mail or cloud solutions, or by telephone. Sometimes video chats are also used.
This is why this type of program has a more technical component. The support focuses on professional advice. Personal coaching and emotional coping with the situation are clearly in the background. For this reason, this form of outplacement has not yet gained a strong foothold in Switzerland.
Employees have always directly engaged an outplacement consultant for their professional development. However, the clients were very exclusive and ranked among the top earners. The inexpensive e-Outplacement now makes it possible for a larger circle of job seekers to afford a personal career coach.
The internal option is often chosen for cost reasons as the size of the organization increases. With growing needs for personnel changes, internal outplacement support can become a cost-effective alternative.
This potential cost advantage is particularly evident when outplacement really takes place on an ongoing basis. Otherwise, there are also some disadvantages: Outgoing employees do not necessarily want to discuss and plan their future with representatives of the dismissing employer. This does not always provide the basis for open coaching discussions. Due to the activities of the employer, the experience of the internal outplacement consultants with regard to a professional reorientation or business start-up is normally limited. Irrespective of the suitability of the internal consultants, an external outplacement is always the better choice.
In addition to internal and external outplacement, a further distinction must be made between individual and group outplacement. And there is also a new variant: e-Outplacement.