Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Outplacement - helping retrenched employees find new jobs

Maybe a strange topic to choose for my opening business post, but it happens to be current for me as a consulting assignment to a multi-national company here in Kuala Lumpur.

Essentially outplacement happens when a company has determined a need to retrench a number of employees, but rather than simply terminate their employment, with minimum redundancy payment as required by law, they recognise a certain responsibility towards those who will lose their jobs.

There are of course, many reasons for jobs becoming redundant (and in most juristictions, the law requires that it is jobs that are being lost) with the resulting retrenchment of the job holders, if they cannot be redeployed within the company. The company I am now working with on an outplacement assignment has sold one of its divisions to another company, and the buyer does not need the employees.

In my view, and that of many HR pros, unless you have experienced retrenchment yourself, you cannot be truly effective as a counsellor to someone who has just been told they are losing their job. A former colleague once compared it to childbirth! She commented that unless you've given birth, you cannot possibly empathise! While somewhat extreme, I have to agree :-) All our consultants involved in outplacement (me included) have all been retrenched at some time AND have a psychology or counselling qualification.

The particular outplacement service we offer covers advice and assistance to the company in ensuring that they meet all local legal and regulatory requirements, and a number of hand-holding services to the affected employees.

For the company, our services include:
  • Check that all labour law and industry regulatory requirements are being met. Our senior consultant is an industrial and employee relations expert.
  • Provide a check on all communications (or draft them for the company) to ensure there is no ambiguity and the message being given is pitched at just the right level - remember companies often find that motivating (or re-motivating) those who remain is a major task
  • Assisting or providing calcuations for redundancy pay, at least at the minimum required by law
  • Briefing or full training, if required, on delivering the message of retrenchment in the most effective manner, and moving quickly onto the benefits that will be provided.

For individials, we provide:

  • Trauma counselling, if required by the individuals (we strongly recommend it, particularly if the affected individuals are worried about telling their spouse and family, or have perhaps recently taken on a large financial commitment)
  • Resume writing, helping individuals to produce a resume that will sell them to their next employer
  • Job search strategies - where to look for jobs...resources are many and very varied
  • Interview skills - examining the strategies and behaviours candidates need to employ if they are to present themsleves effectively to potential employers
  • Placement of their resume on our own Executive Search and Recruitment Division's candidate database
  • Provision of office facilities (for managerial level employees) and office services for all others

The last point above can be really important for many psychologically, in that it means they are still getting up in the mornings and coming into "work". It just means their "work", for the time being, is the most important sales assignment they'll ever have. Selling themselves to their next employer.

One major point on this sales assignment concerns the candidate's resume - this does NOT get the candidate the job he or she is after, but if done well, it should get them the interview for the job.

A resume must be designed and presented in such a way that it screams out "READ ME!" to the recruiter. Many, if not most recruiters are usually faced with hundreds of applicants' resumes to read and rate. We help those who've come to us produce a resume that not only looks and reads professionally, it will always be noticed and therefore read.

Providing outplacement services is not too common here in S E Asia, and tends to largely be offered by multi-national companies operating in the region. However, more and more local companies are now recognising the responsibility they have to those being made redundant for no fault of their own. Full marks to them, for it also gets noticed, and is a very positive image enhancer, with such companies being seen as a caring employer, something that is pretty important in this part of the world.

Well, I guess that's about it for this first business post. I'll be happy to try to answer any questions readers may have, but do realise that I'm not operating in the US or Europe, but in S E Asia, where our labour laws and employment regulations are somewhat different.

No comments: