It’s really difficult to make the decision to downsize. There are many reasons why companies need to do it, but that doesn’t make it any easier. As a business owner and leader, I recognize how gut wrenching it is. Once you’ve decided that it’s the right thing to do for the sustainability of the business, then the question becomes, “How do I go about doing this?”
There are many resources out there on how to prepare, how to structure the conversation, how to calculate severance pay, insurance benefits, etc. These are things that you can probably manage internally with some research. The one thing you won’t be able to do yourself is provide outplacement. Outplacement is a severance benefit for employees who have been let go. It is an offer provided by most organizations to support the employee in transitioning out of the organization and into a new job.
There are many benefits to providing outplacement services, a few big examples include:
- Doing the right thing by your employees
- Protecting your brand and reputation
- Minimizing liability and risk
Because the expectation from employees is that they will be provided outplacement, it can be easy to treat this as a check-the-box item. This is not something one should do lightly. This is an investment in your employees and your brand. Do your research and make sure you are partnering with an outplacement firm that will provide the results that you’re looking for. If you have been partnering with an outplacement firm for a while, it might be time to reassess the value and make sure there is alignment with your company. But where do you start? There are many outplacement providers out there.
Here are ten questions to ask yourself to find the best outplacement provider for your company:
Is there a comprehensive process?
This is the first question you should ask when looking for an outplacement firm. Most companies provide resume and interviewing coaching support. While that’s helpful, it’s not enough.
Imagine that you’ve been let go from a company you’ve worked for after 10 years. Chances are, you haven’t kept up with how job searching works, and a lot has changed since then. You feel overwhelmed, stressed and anxious. You don’t know where to start, and you don’t know what is out there. The last thing you want is for someone to take a look at your resume, modify it based on what you have done and assume your next role should be the same. Wouldn’t you want someone to support you in processing what has happened, help you identify where your skill sets are, what you’re passionate about and then identify roles that will provide fulfilment? I would want that and so do our clients.
A robust process should include a step by step approach from beginning to end. It should start with understanding the individual then identifying roles that are in alignment. From there moving into the resume, LinkedIn, personal branding, interviewing, and negotiations. Below is an example of what a robust process could look like. This is the process Ama La Vida uses when supporting clients through a transition.
How tailored is the approach?
Having a process is important. It provides structure and a road map to go from point A to B. But how we go from point A to B should be dependent on the individual. Similarly, it becomes that much more important to be able to tailor the coaching and the approach to the individual. Some outplacement firms claim they have a tailored approach by modifying resume templates. This is not what we mean by tailored. A robust outplacement firm should have a process in place to assess where the individual’s strengths are and areas of opportunities. Accordingly, the conversations and approach should be outlined together based on what the individual needs.
For example, if an individual has worked for 5 years at a firm and held various roles in that organization. There were parts of that role that they really enjoyed but all of those parts don’t fit neatly into one role. With reflection and guidance we can truly discover what “next” looks like for the individual. In this instance, the career coach and individual would spend more time focusing on defining the next role and crafting the right narrative before jumping into the resume. It’s during the initial intake that the client and coach should align on the specifics of the approach to ensure maximum success for the individual.
What qualifications do the coaches have?
The ability to tailor the approach, meet the clients where they are and drive results is a testament to the quality of the career coach. It’s important to understand the type of training/qualification the career coaches have by asking: Are they certified through a career coaching program? Have they been in hiring/recruiting roles? How many clients have they successfully supported in their transition? The outcome of a successful career transition is made up of two parts: the process AND the coach. If the coach is not qualified or well-trained, your success of getting another job will be low.
What is the completion rate?
Another way to assess engagement and viability of the outplacement firm is asking them about the completion rate. How many clients complete the program when they start? At Ama La Vida, our completion rate is 98%. This means the client is engaged to complete the process and is seeing results, which is why they’re dedicating time and energy to completing the program. If you hear a low percentage, it could also mean that the coaches aren’t as accessible. We have heard horror stories from clients who have sought out additional coaching because the firm their employer hired was unreachable and their process outdated. These individuals opted to pay out of pocket for a hands on approach, timely communication with their coach and an integrated framework. If a firm has a track record of coaches not being reachable or difficult to work with, you’ll notice a very low completion rate.
How do they support clients?
You’re looking to hear what they provide outside of the coaching sessions. What are they offering as resources? Who are they connected with? How quickly do they respond to clients? Who else do the clients have access to? When our clients go through our outplacement service, they’re given access to webinars, blogs, and daily communication on jobs they might be interested in. You want to look for an outplacement firm that provides tailored content, extra resources and cultivates a community through ongoing communication and 24/7 access to each other and the experts they are working with.
What type of technology do they use?
A lot has changed in the job search process. The outplacement firms must keep up with the ever-changing job industry. Are the sessions in person or virtually? Is there an eCoaching component to the service to provide more value and a self-guided approach? Are they integrating up to date research on ATS systems, LinkedIn, networking, etc? The technology should inform and supplement the coaching process.
How do they match coach and client?
One thing we’ve learned while working with various clients in many industries is that the fit between a coach and a client matters. A client has to be able to trust and open up to the coach. When you’re partnering with an outplacement provider, inquire about how clients are matched. Do they have an intake process? What happens if the coach/client relationship isn’t a good match? How often are clients asking to switch their coaches? What type of backgrounds do the coaches have? Your company is made up of diverse employees. The outplacement firm should be a reflection of that.
What type of track record do they have?
This question is about the results. A good process and a good coach are key to a successful outcome. The ultimate question is – what are the results? We encourage you to dig into the reviews and check out their data. Do a google/yelp search on the outplacement firm. What are clients saying about these firms? What type of track record does the organization have in placing people into a new role?
In addition to our yelp reviews, our clients are asked to complete a self-assessment before and after the coaching program. We want our clients to get more from their coaching than simply landing a job. We want them to have more self-awareness, to be more confident in their abilities, to be excited about work and to have a clear idea about where they are headed. On average, our clients are 95% likely to recommend this program to friends and family.
What type of information is provided back to you?
Hopefully you’re one of the lucky organizations out there that isn’t familiar with how to have these difficult conversations. Does the outplacement firm coach you through having these conversations? What support are they providing to prepare you to communicate with a clear and strong message? Is the outplacement firm integrating your company’s message into the coaching conversation? This is important as it helps keep a consistent message and protects the image of the company. Finally, what type of reporting is the outplacement firm providing back to you? Be sure to ask about how they keep track of sessions completed, where clients are in their job search and notification if the client has successfully secured a job.
What’s the cost?
Naturally, you’ll be asking this question. The important thing here is to associate cost with value. Some firms will provide outplacement for a few hundred dollars. But consider what value you’re getting there. The questions above will be really helpful to understand if the investment will have the results you’re looking for. On the other hand, there are organizations who charge tens of thousands of dollars per employee. This might include tailored coaching, unlimited coaching sessions, etc.
The intent of outplacement is to support the individual to get a job and transition as painlessly as possible. This does not need and should not need unlimited sessions. Chances are, by offering unlimited sessions, the structure of the program gets lost and the focus becomes less about the transition. At Ama La Vida, our program is cost-effective and provides the most value and quality because we integrate eCoaching modules to support the client’s journey through the job search. By coupling eCoaching modules with 1:1 coaching, clients come prepared to the sessions, coaches can dig deeper and accomplish more during their time. This allows us to have less sessions but higher quality and better results. Always ask yourself what you’re getting for the value and if that value will be the most effective in achieving the ultimate goal: supporting the employee in transitioning out.
This is a really difficult time for you and your organization.
You’re investing in your people by offering outplacement. Be sure to navigate through the noise, ask the right questions and find the best outplacement provider that will go above and beyond for your employees just like you. Find a provider that sees this as more than checking the box, rather, as a chance to provide a people-forward approach to an outdated process.
Click here to learn more about Ama La Vida’s outplacement service.