Outplacement and Human Capital Strategy
How an organization manages employee lay-offs, downsizing, terminations and reassignments is a cornerstone of its human capital strategy. Everyone can accept that the relationship between a corporation and its employees is just that, a relationship. And, like all other relationships, it can and will change over time. Sometimes the change is sudden, while other times it is the product of evolution—companies are acquired, market conditions shift, people’s personal motivations change, the business evolves and sometimes it was just a bad match from the beginning. But, regardless of the circumstances, what you need to know is that when it is necessary to change the relationship, your remaining employees, your customers and suppliers will be paying very close attention.
Transition Policies are Critical Ingredients of a Corporation’s Human Capital Strategy
Employee transition is one of the 3 legs of human capital strategy. It is foundational to the trust relationship that needs to exist between the employee and employer to effect true human capital strategic alignment. So, when it becomes necessary to change the relationship, the rest of the organization is going to be paying attention to how the change is managed. Are all options in lieu of termination explored? In the case of individuals, that may mean retraining and/or reassignment, and for groups, reduced hours, pay reductions and the like. But if termination is the option, then people are going to be laser-focused on the process. How was notification given? How was the exit of the affected person(s) choreographed? Was it dignified and respectful? Is the severance package appropriate to level and length of service? How much and what kind of assistance is being offered to help the departing employee(s) become established in new opportunities?
Respectful Employment Transitions Protect Employee Dignity
A transition process that is built upon respect and is implemented so as to protect the dignity of the affected individual(s) is of paramount importance. People know things change and that sometimes people and companies must part ways, but they will not accept their co-workers being humiliated or hurt. Employees know that the way a co-worker is treated is probably the way they would be treated too, so in their minds it’s, “As goes he/she, so go I.” What you say is important. What you do really means something.
While fiscal reality is a legitimate factor in determining what can be done for exiting employees, direct dollar cost must not be the primary consideration when determining what should be done. A poorly planned or mishandled workforce reduction—whether one person or hundreds—will have devastating and lasting effects on the organization; litigation costs will escalate, productivity will decrease and unwanted turnover (most often with people taking your secrets to your competitors) will increase. It will be increasingly difficult to attract top talent and your brand will be badly damaged. Trust will be destroyed.
Lower Total Costs of Terminations with Outplacement Support
Career transition or “outplacement” services reduce the risks and costs of employee terminations. Exposure to wrongful termination litigation is mitigated, productivity losses that commonly accompany workforce reductions are minimized and the costly unwanted turnover that is often a by-product of staff reductions can be virtually eliminated. When outplacement and career transition services are core elements of your human capital strategy, trust will not be compromised and your brand will be shielded. And, just for the record, it is the right thing to do, morally and strategically.