What Are the Keys to a Successful In-House Outplacement Program?

Dear Keeping Tabs:

Outplacement is a commitment to work with the affected individuals through the roller-coaster process of their job search. The process is multidimensional—emotional, financial, practical, along with providing objective job search advice and tough love.

A good outplacement program starts before the workforce reduction even occurs. The outplacement firm should be involved in pre-reduction planning, communicating, and training of those who will deliver the message.

“Best practices” outplacement programs boast a focused counseling process that provides affected employees not only with the understanding and tools to begin a successful job search, but also continued support and guidance until the job search is successfully completed.

Other key components of effective outplacement programs include experienced counselors who are good listeners and motivators, a well-thought-out program that has been tested for an extended period of time (and therefore not built on theory and hypothesis), and a cross-industry knowledge at all levels.

For some companies, it may be tempting to establish an in-house outplacement program. Such arrangements, however, are rarely helpful to the displaced worker. The situation is similar to a divorce. No matter how amicable the split, it would be extremely uncomfortable for both parties if, after the divorce, one spouse sought dating advice from the other spouse.

The best outplacement counseling is objective and honest, emotionally detached from the affected worker.

Employment separation is an emotional experience. Discharged workers need a third party to whom they can vent, discuss how they were treated, why it is unfair, how angry they are, their fears about finding something new, how little they accomplished or learned in their last position, and other areas of anxiety. This is an important part of the outplacement process, but former employees are not about to reveal such feelings to a representative of the ex-employer.

SOURCE: John A. Challenger, CEO, Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., Chicago

LEARN MORE: For other guidance, read Dear Workforce: How Do We Remedy Sinking Post-Layoff Morale?”

Workforce Management Online, September 2011Register Now!

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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