Local Touch, Global Reach

The Management Resource Group has been in the outplacement business since 1991. Organizationally we have managed large downsizings (Davenport Bank, ALCOA, Amoco Oil credit card division, Maytag, Rockwell Collins) involving a significant number of people and we have helped companies large and small with outplacement projects. Some competitors in the marketplace who offer outplacement services provide services via telephone conversations or web-based services. These types of services are basic, bare bones programs. A company may “feel good” about offering this type of outplacement service, but in reality departing employees are cheated.

While considered a “mature business, Outplacement is still an important tactic within a talent management strategy for companies that are focused on recruiting the best talent and retaining those people. It does matter to people that the company they work for is equally concerned about all employees, whether they are new hires, employees being developed, or individuals that are no longer a fit or downsized due to any number of reasons.

Many of the national outplacement firms have decided to “commoditize” outplacement services by offering limited career advice and resume assistance but they have little or no connections to the marketplace where the people they are helping actually live. An outplacement consultant from New York, Boston, Chicago or any large city will not personally know local HR professionals, owners of businesses, or “C” level people to refer participants to. To be quite frank, what they are selling can be compared to “phone sex” because it lacks the intimacy that actually helps people get reemployed quicker.

Let me provide another analogy. The basic issue with outplacement is that we as a service provider can be compared to selling dog food. The people receiving the services are not the people buying it. If you’ve never lost your job you cannot appreciate how devastating it is to your whole life. Most people are not prepared about what to do to find their next opportunity.

Many companies who provide severance and very limited outplacement assistance may feel they have done “enough”. Perhaps you should rethink the messaging you’re sending to future hires or existing employees about your concern for people. As a suggestion, you may want to consider telling new hires that it is your policy to provide quality, in-person outplacement assistance to employees that are no longer a fit for the organization. You can use this as a marketing tool when trying to attract the most qualified people, especially if you are in a low unemployment marketplace. I would think you can make a very strong argument about why someone should come to work for your company based on what you are willing to do for those you have decided to transition out.

Through our experience over the past 30 years, we find most people don’t want to relocate…and for good reasons. Significant others have good jobs, children are in high school, or they have aging parents who may need assistance. Finding a new job is way more complicated than it used to be when one looked in the newspaper for an advertisement, applied for the job, and received a call from a real person. Many companies have automated systems with on-line applications. If the right keywords or phrases are not included or you don’t have a degree or your specific years of experience don’t match, the applicant may never hear back from the company. In the interest of saving time and money companies often miss opportunities to speak with people who would be great hires.

Having a relationship with a local outplacement firm who has strong ties to the community can make a real difference for your employees. MRG provides quality face-to-face career transition services that are worth your investment.