By Dan Davenport, President and General Manager at Randstad RiseSmart & Member of WEC’s Career Management Group
Published on 2nd November 2020
Given the current economic climate, many organisations, especially those in hard-hit industries such as retail, hospitality and travel, have had to make the difficult decision to reduce their workforce. Stay-at-home orders, shutdowns of nonessential businesses and travel restrictions have significantly impacted the global economy since the initial pandemic outbreak in March 2020, leading to increased unemployment and organisational restructuring across industries. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), full or partial lockdown measures have affected 2.7 billion workers, representing 81% of the global workforce.
In a previous post, I shared key benefits of having an impactful internal mobility strategy in place to support the fluid movement of people within an organisation such that their career passions align with the needs of business. Beyond supporting internal career moves, a strong talent mobility strategy also includes solutions to help employees successfully transition to new job opportunities outside the company.
If I had to let any of my employees go, due to no fault of their own, I would want to help them succeed in their next endeavor in much the same way they have contributed to this company’s success. Not only is it the right thing to do for my employees, it’s the right thing to do for my business.
Now more than ever, employers must embrace their corporate values, communicate transparently and commit to helping their workforce, including employees impacted by workforce reductions. When employers do right by their employees, especially during difficult times, this helps employees thrive in their careers and has a long-lasting, positive effect on an organisation’s brand and bottom line. It also speaks volumes about an organisation’s values and culture.
One of the many organisations that has made the difficult decision to let go of employees is Airbnb. In an open letter to employees released in May, Airbnb Co-Founder and CEO Brian Chesky announced that the company was reducing its workforce by 25%. His letter is a perfect example of transparency and compassion that reflects brand values. In addition to offering employees severance and healthcare benefits, the letter highlighted several ways that Airbnb is offering departing employees job support, including four months of outplacement services. Other organisations, such as Intuit and Mozilla, have taken a similar approach.
If organisations must let go of staff, they can still do the right thing to help impacted employees make a successful career transition by offering outplacement services. These services give exiting employees a major leg up in finding new roles. In the current pandemic with so many individuals unemployed and many having to transition to other industries, this advantage is critically important.
Through outplacement services, an individual can receive a freshly written, targeted and optimized resume and social profile, personalized career coaching and access to highly targeted job leads. The right outplacement services partner will also offer impacted employees online tools and resources to match their specific needs and accelerate the job search. These tools might include a virtual dashboard to track their individual journey, articles, assessments, videos, webinars, networking scripts and tip sheets. Supporting departing employees with outplacement enables them to find their next opportunity sooner, can help the company reduce layoff-related costs and enables to contribute to broader economic recovery.
Doing right by its employees during a workforce reduction can help a company maintain a positive relationship with both exiting and remaining employees, which is not only critical for brand reputation but can also boost morale and productivity across the organisation. In the longer term, as the economy recovers and hiring becomes a renewed focus, companies that have demonstrated care for their workforce will be employers of choice and will be more likely to attract qualified talent. In these ways, outplacement is an investment in both remaining and future employees.
No matter the workforce changes organisations might face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the most important things they can do is communicate these changes early and often with employees. Transparent communications can help build loyalty and trust with employees each step of the way and there needs to be trust on both sides of the employer-employee relationship to drive productivity and continued business success.
This post is part of a series of blog contributions by members of the World Employment Confederation’s Career Management group exploring the value added of career management services to people, organisations and society, in particular in a world of work disrupted by the Covid-19 crisis.
WEC’s Career Management group was founded by leading global career management firms LHH, Randstad Risesmart, Right Management and Intoo and keeps expanding to national federations in countries like Belgium and Poland. For more information about WEC’s activities regarding Career Management, visit our dedicated webpage.