Outplacement and Career Transition Services  – beyond brand protection

Losing a job rates as one of the most stressful experiences a person can encounter. In fact, research* conducted by the Gallup organisation suggests that people bounce back quicker from the death of a spouse than from being unemployed for 12 months!!! This highlights the significant responsibility of organisations to provide assistance for the transitioning of an ‘outplaced’ individual via career transition programs.

Since the commencement of the outplacement industry in the 1980s, organisations have invested in these programs as a demonstration of good corporate citizenship and brand protection.

The reality is however, that it goes way beyond good citizenship and brand protection.

Whenever staff turn-over occurs, the eyes of every person in the organisation is watching what happens. In these moments the corporate culture sits on a cliff’s edge. The way outgoing staff are treated has a direct impact on remaining staff, on the workplace environment and culture. The natives hear about everything that happens behind closed doors and in the weeks and months following, hear about the welfare of those who have left.

With the proliferation of social media and sites like Glassdoor, there is nowhere for organisations to hide.  So with the stakes so high, why is it that still so many companies do their best to dodge the investment in Outplacement or Career Transition Services?

Here are some tips for companies to consider when considering the provision of Outplacement Services:

1)      COST

Outdated notions of outplacement lean heavily towards viewing it as a significant drain on finances. When added to redundancy payouts, it’s understandable how some organisations come to this conclusion. But the reality is that not utilising outplacement could potentially be costing your business significantly more.

Outplacement provides employees with a sense of security and is viewed as a sort of career safety net. This assists in creating a culture based on trust – not on fear. It can also enhance staff engagement. Gallup studies suggest that up to 75% of the Australian workforce is not positively engaged with their current role. This results in an upward swing in attrition, increased absenteeism, and perhaps most worrying, high rates of presenteeism (turning up to work but disengaged and mentally checked out). In all, this costs the Australian economy in excess of $79 billion annually, and it could be costing your business a hefty chunk of revenue.

2)      TIME

Traditional outplacement programs operate via a principal of drip-feeding coaching over a span of between 2 to 6 months. For the individual, this is a daunting prospect. For many people, being out of work for that period of time can seem like an eternity. This results in a devaluing of the outplacement program, which in turn impacts the employer.

Selecting a program that is both time efficient and delivered within a window as close to the end of their employment as possible is imperative in order for the individual to identify benefit. A program that provides ongoing support in the form of coaching and resources can assist greatly in bridging any gaps a person may experience if the hunt for the next role goes longer than expected.

3)      QUALITY

Once a person leaves an organisation and enters into outplacement, communication is often ceased along with employment. So how do you know if the program your company uses is any good? For many employers, this lack of clarity with regards to the quality of their outplacement program is cause for concern.

A good supplier will provide transparent feedback to an organisation, whilst simultaneously respecting the individual’s desire for privacy. This is a delicate balance, but is imperative in ensuring the investment in a program is justified.


In recent years, HR staff have been forced to become familiar with fresh new venting processes and avenues. People have become more vocal – and more conspicuous in their displeasure – in line with increasing access to social media platforms. One disgruntled employee can spread negativity throughout a team, and subsequently an organisation, much like a virus. This generally manifests in active disengagement behaviours.

However when this hits online mediums, the virus impacts more than productivity – it damages brands and tarnishes corporate reputation. Unwanted negative attention on employer review websites such as Glassdoor can be a PR nightmare, and being noted as an employer who churns and burns employees on one of these sites has negative implications for the type of talent they want to attract.

On the flip side, a reputation as a responsible and caring employer who values their people can make a significant difference in attracting the kind of employee that not only fits an organisation, but also enhances it.

In summary, Outplacement shouldn’t be considered a dirty word in any organisation. It should instead be viewed as a positive contribution to the future of an organisation’s people. So when it comes time to review your business’ Outplacement strategy, you should ask yourself “how would I like to be treated if I no longer had the security of my job?”

* Well Being – The Five Essential Elements (Tom Rath, Jim Harter)

Richard Burton – InnerZone Founder and CEO

For more information, see InnerZone.

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