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Do we really need outplacement?

Loss of employment is undoubtedly a very unpleasant incident in everyone’s life. It is no wonder that job loss is ranked in a high, eighth position on the Stress Scale (Social Readjustment Scale Rating – SRSS), taking people’s most stressful and burdensome situations into account. The only events ahead in the ranking are the ones associated with the death of a close family member, a significant marriage crisis (divorce, separation), illness or imprisonment. Bearing in mind the fact that the dismissal can be a trauma for many people and have adverse effects on health and life of a person losing their job as well as their family and friends, the organisations started developing strategies to provide the dismissed employee with widely understood SUPPORT.

In business language it commonly appears as outplacement (in the literature also called ‘monitored dismissal programmes’, ‘gradual dismissal system’, ‘career activation program’, ‘employment support program’ etc.) and is defined as ‘planned, comprehensive action aimed at effective organization of dismissal process through planning and helping dismissed  employees to cope with a new life situation[1].

Specific actions carried out within the outplacement programmes will be described in the following part of the article (it concerns both individual as well as group programmes).

  • Psychological support is aimed at helping the dismissed employee to get accustomed to and accept the CHANGE (related to the loss of a work) in their life, being the cause of stress and simultaneously tensions, frustration, difficult emotions, such as: fear, anger, anxiety, lack of a sense of security etc. One should emphasise that the psychological support as an element of the outplacement programmes, is usually organised in the form of coaching rather than psychotherapy and that is the way it should be taken as by a person using this form of outplacement actions.
  • Training programmes and workshops aimed at enhancement and development of interpersonal competences desired and sought by employers, helpful during an interview or to adapt to a new work environment. The subject of the training programmes is unusually broad and concerns areas such as: interpersonal communication, assertiveness, self-presentation, emotional intelligence etc.
  • Advisory within writing and preparing applications documents including CV and letter of application. It should be emphasized that the advisory services consist in both providing essential knowledge about the correct preparation of documents from the professional as well as formal side (design, order, the content, use of CV creator etc.) and getting a dismissed person acquainted with the novelties and trends in application document preparation. An example could be VIDEO CV – a new but more and more popular form of candidate presentation. The offered assistance consists in the preparation of presentation as well as providing technical equipment including modern devices, programmes thanks to which the presentation will look professional.
  • Interview simulations and simulated Assessment Centre sessions.
  • Providing essential knowledge about the labour market requirements and ways of searching for job opportunities, building network of contacts, suggesting institutions supporting employment etc.
  • Providing access to the current job opportunities through the free access to Internet, phone, fax etc. and showing the way to analyse job offers (e.g. explanation of foreign job titles and abbreviations used in job offers etc.)
  • Defining candidate’s strengths and areas requiring improvement – the analysis is based on a direct contact with a person, and is quite often supported by the competence or psychological tests etc.
  • Assistance in setting goals and planning the career path.
  • Exit interview, in other words the final conversation. The participants of this conversation are the employee leaving work and their immediate superior. They are often accompanied by a person from the Human Resources department. On the one hand its purpose is to officially say farewell to the employee, and on the other hand, to summarise their cooperation with the company. What is more, the person leaving the organization receives feedback on their work. Thanks to that they get to know what are their strong points, which competences and skills are well developed, and which of them require further work and development. Having such self-knowledge may turn out to be very useful for the ex-employee when job hunting and choosing a job opportunity most consistent with the acquired knowledge and skills later on.

During the exit interview an employee is encouraged also to share their observations considering both what is valuable and what is wrong and needs to be improved. Such conclusions may become a contribution to changes and development of the organisation.

  • Medical and legal assistance

Apart from the above mentioned forms of outplacement, there is one more, exceptional action directed to the dismissed persons and those who stay in the organization and those who may be employed there in the future. It is all about supporting communication processes both inside and outside the organization.

The taken actions aim, above all, at informing employees clearly about the outplacement, explaining the way it functions and its usability. Thanks to this information employees not only know what and why happens in their organization, but also acquire confidence that if they got dismisses in the future, they would be able to count on the same support and help. On one hand, these actions are to reinforce the employee’s sense of security and improve the atmosphere in the company, and on the other, are undoubtedly the way to create a positive, responsible, caring and modern image of the employer. In the literature this measure is known as employer build and unquestionably is the second face of the outplacement.

We may, of course, wonder whether the implementation of outplacement actions is really motivated by great concern about dismissed employees or rather a necessity to promote the organisation’s irreproachable image and ‘play to the gallery’? But irrespective of the original motivation to implement these programmes, the most important is the fact that they bring the real help, support and contribute to the human development, and the organization in the second order.

Performing even a cursory analysis of the outplacement, we reach a conclusion that it is an extremely interesting and necessary instrument to support the human resources management process. More and more companies, including the Polish ones, see the point to invest in this kind of enterprises. The latest findings[2] show that in the course of six years the there was a double increase in the number of companies using these services. Agnieszka Jagielska, the expert for outplacement, says that ‘previous surveys showed that 25% companies used outplacement services, currently 48% respondents conduct outplacement programmes’[3].

The above result satisfies, although one dreams that it was getting better and better year by year and that the outplacement service, same as in other countries, was definitely more widespread and abounding in all forms of support presented in the article.

Do we really need outplacement? Wholeheartedly YES. One should remember about two crucial principles: a person participating in the outplacement programme, even in the most comprehensive one, cannot expect it will lead to a new job. We need to emphasise that the outplacement’s purpose is to equip the ex-worker in skills and knowledge in order to help them, along with the proactive lifestyle, sooner or later find a job that meets their expectation.

The second issue is ‘to help an employee overcome dependence on the organization’[4] and teach people to think positive about the future, because we never know that so much good is still ahead of us, and the optimistic attitude, in spite of the experienced problems, is a half of the success.

To sum up, a wisely and professionally implemented and conducted outplacement programme is for the dismissed employee a so-called lifeline to help them overcome even the hardest obstacles in the professional field. Whereas, it is an invaluable support for the organization on the way to changes and the remedy for the image.

 

Ewa Osowska

Bibilography:

Berg-Peer J., Outplacemnet w praktyce, Wolters Kluwer, Warszawa 2004.

Jagielska A., Monitorowane odejścia, ‘Personel i Zarządzanie’, lipiec 2011.

Mackiewicz A.J., Psychologia zwolnień, Difin, Warszawa 2010.

Marciniak J., Optymalizacja zatrudnienia. Zwolnienia, outsourcing, outplacement, Wolters Kluwer, Warszawa 2009.

Sidor-Rządkowska M., Zwolnienia pracowników a polityka personalna firmy, Wolters Kluwer, Warszawa 2010.

 

Netography:

www.bezrobocie.org.pl

www.hrnews.pl



[1] B. Piotrowski, Outplacement – podstawowy pakiet informacji (Outplacement – Basic Information Package), http://www.bezrobocie.org.pl/files/1bezrobocie.org.pl/public/broszury_outplacement_praca_w_polsce/100304_BPiotrowski_broszura_outplacement_PUP.pdf, [20.10.2011].

[2] The first survey was carried out in 2005, and the second one – in the first quarter of 2011. 500 companies in total were surveyed in the whole country. Cf. A. Jagielska, Monitorowane odejścia, ‘Personel i Zarządzanie’, lipiec 2011, p. 22.

[3] Ibidem.

[4] A.J. Mackiewicz, Psychologia zwolnień, Difin, Warszawa 2010, p. 73.

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