How Outplacement Can Minimise the Risk of Reputational Damage

With the inevitable cut-backs arising from the impact of COVID-19 on the global economy, many organisations have no choice but to reduce their staff numbers. Whether it’s a case of retrenchment or redundancy, providing outplacement services to outgoing employees helps to ensure they receive the support they need in these challenging times.

However, outplacement programs can also offer significant benefits to employers – one of which is the reduced risk of reputational damage to their employer brand. Maintaining a positive brand reputation should be an important consideration for any company – according to research conducted by LinkedIn, 60% of professionals aged 40 and under associate employer branding with job consideration.

If you’re having to let go of employees due to COVID-19, here are some of the reasons that offering outplacement support will help minimise the chances of your organisation facing a ‘branding backlash’.

Employees offered outplacement are less likely to spread negative feedback.

Ever noticed that online reviews are more likely to be shared when the person’s suffered a bad experience? Well, a study undertaken by ZenDesk revealed that respondents who experienced a bad service interaction were 50% more likely to share it on social media than those who had a good experience. If we put this into an employment context, this would suggest that disgruntled employees will be far more likely to share negative feedback about their employer.

Providing outplacement can help to leave outgoing employees with a positive impression of their former employee, by demonstrating they are still cared about and will be treated with dignity even on their departure. In fact, research conducted by Career365 showed that 95% of people would be “far less inclined” to post adverse comments about their former employer had they been offered an outplacement program.

Outplacement helps to maintain a healthy relationship between employer and employee.

Providing Outplacement is not a legal requirement. It is a service that is offered by employers who truly care about their employees, even as they depart the company. By this one tangible act of support, the employer’s reputation is reinforced in the eyes of the participant.

So, why is this important? Aside from making it less likely that the outgoing employee will share negative feedback about their employer in the short-term (as outlined above), it also helps to maintain a positive relationship going forward. As well as minimising the chance of employers talking badly of their former employer in the future, this can also be very helpful if circumstances change and the employer wishes to re-engage the person as a boomerang employee.

Worth noting: At the first meeting with a new participant in one of our outplacement programs, I make a point of giving kudos to the employer. By explaining that the former employer is being immensely helpful in providing the support they aren’t legally required to, the participant is consciously made aware of what it means to be offered Outplacement.

Offering outplacement can help you be recognised as an Employer of Choice.

Employer brand reputation is particularly important when it comes to attracting new talent. And with employer review websites such as Glassdoor and Seek being used extensively by job seekers to gauge the suitability of potential employers, ensuring your brand is seen as an Employer of Choice can go a long way in securing top talent.

Supporting outgoing employees via an effective outplacement program demonstrates your brand’s commitment to upholding its values and treating staff members fairly at every stage of the employee lifecycle. This will be viewed favourably by future employees and helps your organisation to stand out as an attractive place to work.

Providing outplacement support presents a positive brand image for surviving employees.

Your brand reputation isn’t just based on the way people outside your organisation view your company. The way you’re perceived by current employees – particularly during a period of higher than average job losses such as the COVID-19 era – is equally important. As well as reducing the chances of your own employees spreading negative word of mouth about you, providing outplacement can be highly beneficial in terms of keeping existing employees engaged and productive.

When remaining staff members can see their former colleagues being treated with dignity and respect through the provision of outplacement support, they will feel reassured and have greater confidence in their employer. This will help ensure surviving employees view their employer in a positive light, remain connected and motivated in the workplace, and be less likely to suffer the impact of survivor’s guilt.

Career365’s affordable online outplacement programs – delivered via online training modules and video-based coaching – coupled with video conferencing via Zoom, Teams or Skype can be accessed from any location, at any time, on any device, making them ideal for a COVID-19 environment.

If you need support or advice on outplacement services for retrenched employees in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, visit our outplacement page to find out more about our fully online outplacement programs.

Greg Weiss has authored two books about career transitioning and is soon to release a third. He has deep expertise in outplacement and employee onboarding, and is the Founder of Career365 (formerly CareerSupport365) – a leading Australian employee transitioning firm, specialising in outplacement and employee onboarding.


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