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Outplacement is a well-recognized concept and has been offered to employees in Sweden for over 20 years. Levels of support differ depending on level of seniority. Group activities are frequently offered to lower employee levels and blue collar workers, quite often via governmental channels. More senior employees, those occupying the mid and higher levels are tend to receive individual programs ranging from 3-12 months (the program length is often based on position, time in company and best practices in a specific sector).

Unlike other geographies, employees in Sweden have access to government backed support and also through associations and unions. A large part of the market is serviced by governmental initiatives - unemployed individuals are offered both internal workshops and external job coaches coming both from independent single consultants as well as firms (although they do not always offer the best in quality) - and from the Trygghetsrådet (private sector) or Trygghetsstiftelsen (public sector).

Trygghetsrådet (TRR) - owned by employer associations and the unions within PTK (Swedish Council for Negotiation and Cooperation) also provides support to members. Approximately 32,000 companies and 850,000 employees are connected to TRR via collective agreements, where companies pay 0.3% of the company’s payroll to TRR in a redundancy agreement in their annual fee.

TRR is an easy way for organizations to support their employees – especially as it is already paid for. If companies wish to employ the services of a professional outplacement companies, they can apply for the sums paid in to TRR to be paid back to them.

Private outplacement firms remain by far the most impactful route of supporting individuals, often offering additional support and benefits not found elsewhere. For example, the number of individuals supported by an outplacement firm and their coaches is less than TTR for example, providing a higher touch, more individualized experience tailored to the needs of each person supported.  Private firms are also able to provide support to those who may have been offered voluntary redundancy - helping them to assess whether it's the right decision for them.

While there is no obligation by law to offer outplacement support to exiting employees in a redundancy situation, outplacement is a well-known service with a good reputation that can definitely can be part of the negotiations with the unions. More often than not, businesses without collective agreements or voluntary packages often include outplacement support using suppliers from the private sector. It is often based on best practices within the company or global agreements if the support is given or not.

During the past year, the job market has improved for job seekers due to a better market economy, with the bigger cities providing a greater number of opportunities than other parts of Sweden. That said, finding a new role still takes longer than many of the job seekers anticipate, however.  Of course, the placement time depends on position, position level, location and sector, but an average placement time is approximately 6-9 months for mid and higher levels.

Eva Borgert-Palm and Ulrika Falk, 4Focus Leadership and Recruitment