opinion piece

Outplacement: a win-win for individuals and organisations in a changing world of work

Loosing a job is never an easy experience but the career management sector is there to support both workers and companies. Through the outplacement process, career management specialists ensure that the transition into new opportunities is smooth and sustainable, writes Denis Pennel, Managing Director of the World Employment Confederation.

Published on 19th January 2021

Over the past year, organisations in hard-hit industries such as retail, hospitality and travel have been forced to reduce their workforce. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that the impact of lockdowns and restrictions has affected some 2.7 billion workers worldwide – 81% of the global workforce.

In these situations, the ability to provide parting employees with outplacement services to help them to succeed in their next role, can be invaluable. These services offer people a real head-start with an optimised and targeted cv and coaching to access job leads. They help workers transition to new opportunities more swiftly and maintain their confidence as they continue on their career path.

Outplacement is one of the most widely recognised services offered by the career management sector. Career management services support both people and organisations in navigating the complex and dynamic world of work. They facilitate mobility and development and add value for everyone involved: for organisations they offer a proactive approach to strategic workforce planning and help anticipate evolutions in demand; for individuals they offer skills enhancement that supports them throughout their work-life journey; and for society they ensure smooth, effective labour market transitions and ease the burden on public services. During times of labour market volatility – such as we are experiencing due to the Covid-19 pandemic – career management services can offer an important lifeline to companies, workers and society.

Offering outplacement services also reflects well on organisations. They can help companies maintain good relationships with employees past and present and boost morale and productivity throughout the company. Offering outplacement also affirms an organisation’s credentials as a socially responsible player that embraces sound corporate values – something that can have a positive impact on the brand and the bottom line. A well-handled situation that demonstrates care for departing employees will also be more likely to make the company a go-to employer of choice in the future. Indeed, treating departing employees well can result in them returning to the organisation in the years to come and bringing with them fresh skills and knowledge that will enhance the team.

The exit experience is an important final step in the employee journey. Organisations give thought to the hiring and onboarding of talent and it is equally important to ensure that people are supported as they leave. Accompanying employers and workers during difficult economy times can be crucial in easing the process for all and help enterprises to manage restructuring effectively and sustainably. The benefits of outplacement are being increasingly recognised and in some markets, such as Belgium, these services are mandatory.

An essential component of outplacement services is a clear legal framework which assigns roles, responsibilities and quality standards to employers, employees and services providers – and also includes sanctions to ensure compliance. Right now, when labour market transitions are more important than ever, I would urge governments to seize the opportunity to set in place a practical and effective legal framework for outplacement to support workers, companies and the labour market as a whole.

Looking ahead to better times and more stable economic conditions, I am convinced that outplacement services will continue to play an important role. Even without the added stress of a pandemic, today’s labour markets are increasingly volatile and uncertain. Organisations face constantly changing patterns of business activity and must respond to them by adjusting and reviewing their staffing needs. A key factor here is skills needs.

Skills have an increasingly short shelf-life in today’s world of work and need to be constantly refreshed and updated. Recent Gartner data finds that the number of skills needed for a single job increases by 10% a year while one-third of the skills listed in an average 2017 job posting are now irrelevant here in 2021. The rapid changes brought about by the Covid-19 crisis have only served to exacerbate this skills gap and employers need to reskill and upskill their workforce. Here too, career management specialists can play a key role in closing the skills gap.

As we embark on the road to recovery post pandemic, millions of people around the world will need help in returning to the labour market and acquiring new skills. Outplacement services have a proven track record in supporting fluid and successful labour market transitions and can help deliver success for workers, companies and societies.

First published on Staffing America Latina, January 2021

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