The negative impact of redundancy on workers has been well documented and can include: stigma, loss of identity and self-esteem, feelings of anger and grief, destruction of daily routines, financial distress and the loss of social and support networks. In some instances, mental health problems such as clinical depression can result.
Outplacement is a means of humanising this very unpleasant (but necessary) aspect of organisational life. The purpose of outplacement is, “to reduce the anxiety and tension produced by career disruptions; to increase attractive job leads; to assure systematic constructive job searching; to decrease unemployment time and; to effect a career change which improves or at least does not reduce the worker’s return from working.” Healy (1982)
This definition provides a useful ‘shopping list’ of what workers (or clients as they will be referred to from now on) may expect from an outplacement service, but it does not tell us how this can be best achieved. It also fails to recognise the interests of the employer, who in most instances will be paying for the service. While many employers are motivated to provide outplacement services for overwhelmingly altruistic reasons, they will also be aware of the importance of maintaining a positive brand image; not just in the eyes of customers but also those workers who are leaving, those remaining in post, and those who may consider joining in the future.
A well-designed outplacement programme should, therefore, offer a ‘win-win’ outcome for both client and employer. Our four-stage outplacement model includes both aspects of career counselling and more practical elements relating to personal development and job search. This approach ensures the client remains our primary focus but that the employer ultimately benefits from minimising the potential damage to their employer brand and helping ensure that engagement levels remain high amongst their remaining workers.