Finding the Quality in Outplacement Services

The Wall Street Journal (www.wsj.com) article, ‘Assistance for Laid-off Workers Gets Downsized’, brings to light the financial pressures large Outplacement firms have succumbed to in order to cut operating costs. While doing so, they have been touting the benefits of technology and streamlining (read ‘impersonalizing’) services by relying on group enrollment sessions and e-learning. As the article very clearly states, this major shift has significantly minimized client access to 1:1 time with consultants, thereby leaving clients in career transition frustrated and lacking the strategies to bridge the gap to a new career. It is no wonder the Outplacement industry has been so deeply tarnished.

Companies who contract Outplacement services do have options and can ‘vote’ with their dollars to get 1:1 coaching with expert consultants, 100% of the time, for their employees displaced during a RIF.  Smaller Outplacement firms fill the high integrity, high touch, individualized service niche left by the larger firms whose sheer size has required them to replace consultants’ time with group processes. Consultants in smaller firms are there because they have made the definitive choice to provide quality over quantity – and it shows!

Per the Wall Street Journal article, “Companies such as Right Management and Lee Hecht say they are investing significant sums in their Web-based tools, which provide critical new skills at a time when job search has moved online.  “That’s where our candidates need to be,” said Peter Alcide, the president and chief operating officer of Lee Hecht.”   Differences between the larger Outplacement firms profiled by the Wall Street Journal article and smaller Outplacement firms, some of whom are members of the Global Outplacement Alliance, which requires strict adherence to customized coaching on an individual basis are:

SERVICE DELIVERY MODEL
Big Firms: ~80% of all outplacement programs offered are self-serve, using impersonal web-based learning.
Smaller Firms: Clients are matched with a specific coach who determines their career goals, develops their brand value, and coaches them through the entire transition process.

CLIENT TIME WITH CONSULTANTS
Big Firms: Less than 15% of total service is provided 1:1 with career strategy coach.
Smaller Firms: Clients meet 1:1 with their coach 100% of the time.

PROFESSIONALLY WRITTEN, NEWLY TARGETED RESUMES INCLUDED?
Big Firms: Less than 20% of outplacement clients have the luxury of having their resumes professionally written and tailored to their career goals.
Smaller Firms: Coaches write personalized resumes for each and every client tailored to their target career goals.

BILLING
Big Firms: Billing is activated 100% of the time, for 100% of the fee regardless of the employee’s level of commitment or engagement in the program.
Smaller Firms: Billing is activated only when we are sure of the client’s engagement with our services.

The choice to contract high integrity, high touch Outplacement services to ease the transition for both the company and those affected by a Reduction in Force, is still good business practice. Securing the services of high quality outplacement service providers, by asking the right questions to determine their commitment to meeting the needs of the displaced employees on a 1:1 basis with effective, practical coaching, meets the Business Case for Outplacement ROI.