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Richard Alberg

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Now is not the time for employers to short-change staff over outplacement support


With its recent decision to take its outplacement support in-house, RBS is missing an opportunity, says Richard Alberg. Replacing the cost of external expertise in this way may appear more cost-effective but I fear they are in fact short changing ex-employees.

It is difficult to criticise any employer that is making an effort to assist those they are making redundant, I do urge organisations to look beyond simply doing more of the same but at a lower cost.

The current job market is harsh and effective long term outplacement support has never been more valuable or needed. Employees understand the worth of career transition support. Last week a Hays survey of public sector workers –who are likely to suffer the most over the next year or so from job cuts – found that 85% thought that career transition services should be made compulsory. But employees are anxious about the provision and quality of support from employers. The survey went on to find that although 80% of public sector workers who had experience of being made redundant had made use of outplacement services, 73% of respondents said there was no current support from their employer. Amazingly, some of the reasons employers cite for not using career transitions services in the past are a lack of internal resource to organise it and that it is not seen as important by management.

The problem is that traditional outplacement is outmoded, costly and does not equip jobseekers with the resources they need in this tough job market.  In my experience, individuals made redundant quickly feel resentful of face to face outplacement support as they soon use up their allocation of assistance and find themselves on their own; abandoned in that harsh job market.

The recession has been a catalyst for some smart thinking about how to assist career transition. Highly effective outplacement can now be provided through technology and this does not only have huge cost advantage for employers.

For the employee, harnessing online technologies means support is available 24/7 and can be made available for a much greater length of time than for face to face outplacement support. Advice and guidance that has typically been provided by an outplacement consultant can now be received through on-demand e-learning. Many of the laborious tasks that a jobseeker has to undertake can now be automated: job search activities can be tracked, reminders provided and reports generated. Most employees want to immediately ‘get stuck in’ with their job search. An on-demand online process lends itself to this as individuals can use the service for as many hours as they want and do not need to wait for the next scheduled workshop. We are seeing considerable usage in the evenings as people at home do their research and create job applications. 

The chief benefit to an employer is the cost. Delivering support online drastically reduces overheads and means the service can be delivered for a small fee per head. Of course there are the other benefits for employers who offer outplacement support, maintaining staff motivation, reputation management and future recruitment etc., but these will only be seen if the service employees receive is good. If it is not effective why bother offering resource at all?

Outplacement delivered through the traditional channels is costly and employers who don’t make the most of technology to best equip their ex-employees in the current job market are missing a golden opportunity.


Richard Alberg, Founder and CEO of MyWorkSearch


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