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Technology Eases the Connection With Laid-Off Workers

May 25, 2001
Related Topics: Downsizing, Human Resources Management Systems (HRMS/HRIS), Featured Article
Tough economic conditions can force many firms to lay off valued workers.Later, when times improve, you may want to contact and re-hire them. Yet theemployee contact information may be out of date, and there's no way of knowingwhat new skill sets these workers may have acquired in the interim -- making itdifficult to match them with open positions.

    An answer to this dilemma could be found in your applicant tracking system orHRMS. While the applicant tracking system is primarily designed for recruitingand tracking new hires, some can also be used to track layoffs and laid-offworkers. And an HRMS may also have this functionality.

    "In today's labor market, companies are well advised to try and keep intouch with the employees they want to recall, so if the opportunity comes up,they can bring them in quickly," says Jim Spoor, CEO of Spectrum.

From employee to candidate
    With some of Spectrum's (and other) systems, Spoor says you can create customsnapshots of each laid-off employee, and also periodically send update lettersto former workers. These letters encourage them to keep you posted on newlyacquired skill sets, as well as where they're currently employed. You can alsosend them passwords and user names so they can update their existing employeerecord themselves over the Web.

    Ceridian Source 500, an HRMS, tracks and runs reports on terminated employeesfor both reporting purposes as well as the possibility of eventual rehiring,says Tom Milliken, a Ceridian representative. Laid-off employees are designatedas "terminated" -- as opposed to coding them as "active,""FMLA," "Leave of Absence," or other terms.

    Still, it is the applicant tracking system -- both the traditional andWeb-based -- that is probably best designed for layoff tracking. A commonscenario in many large organizations is laying off employees in one particulardepartment. Personic's eRecruiter, for example, can determine if any of thoseworkers have skill sets that could match open job requisitions in other areas ofthe company. You can then easily reactivate the employee file as a candidatefile in the eRecruiter database. The candidate can apply for open positionsthrough the Personic's eCandidate interface on the corporate Web site, or youcan simply add him or her to the workflow process for a particular requisition.

    Along the same lines is Cluen's Encore Search Management Software, which usesan "attribute tracking" device to "tag" an individual whenhe or she is laid off. You can be as specific as you need to be with"tagging."

    "For example, if you wanted to find all the HR vice presidents who dealtwith benefits and compensation who were laid off in the Topeka office, you cando so through running one simple report," says Cluen spokesperson AaronO'Hanlon.

    Another system, called SonicRecruit, first identifies workers to be laid off,and tracks the status of a layoff notice. Then, it tracks the status of theemployees once they are officially let go. After the exit interview, thelaid-off worker can be rated on the likelihood of their returning to thecompany. When the firm goes back to hiring mode, the firm can recall allcandidates to whom they want to re-offer jobs.

Helping employees in their job search
    Even if your organization will not be re-hiring in the near future, you canstill maintain good relations with laid-off workers by utilizing your applicanttracking system to help them find new jobs.

    VirtualEdge's E*TRACK System offers a "Transition Module" thatallows companies to work with outsourcing and staffing firms. Laid-off workerprofiles can be selected, approved and pushed to a central database, whichoutsourcing firms can access.

    Another system, Gemdrop Recruiter, lets employers identify laid-off employeesas "public," which allows outside users to access and view thecandidate's resume, contact information and credentials. It also features aproprietary built-in technology called "Shine" that allows jobcandidates to create online presentations that provide a more intensiveintroduction to their skills and experience.

    In the end, it's smart to use your technology to help track and managelayoffs -- because it can pay off in the future. Says Spoor: "When it'stime to re-hire, a former employee who already has a couple of years' experiencewith your organization, who understands your culture and your products, isreally your safest bet."

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