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What is Outplacement?

  • Blog
  • 5 December 2019

What is Outplacement?

As an HR professional, you have most likely come across the term ‘outplacement’. However, what is outplacement and if your organisation is about to go through a restructure, should you be looking at outplacement services for the employees affected?

Outplacement is a service provided by employers for their employees affected by redundancy. Outplacement programmes can either be conducted by an internal HR team, or outsourced to a specialist outplacement organisation. They are services paid for by the former employer and if outsourced, a good outplacement organisation will provide support to both transitioning employees, the HR team involved and continuing employees and managers.


Services and Programmes

There is a wide range of outplacement programme available. It is important to choose an outplacement provider who can tailor their programmes to align with the organisation’s values and business goals.

Outplacement programmes can include;

  • CV or resume writing advice
  • Interview practice
  • Coaching
  • Career planning
  • Reskilling or retraining
  • Advice regarding a career change
  • Retirement transition advice
  • Entrepreneurial support

Delivery of outplacement services varies. Many organisations opt for group outplacement sessions where groups of at-risk employees are brought together to receive support in various subjects. This creates solidarity and a supportive environment. Other organisations may provide 1:1 support, either virtually or face-to-face. Some opt for a blend of all or some of the above. If you are looking for an outplacement service provider, you must consider which delivery options are right for your organisation and employees and how flexible they are.


Outplacement programmes can last from 3 months to 12 months. This is determined by your location and industry. For example, in the USA, it typically takes 22.8 weeks to secure a new position according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This will vary between regions and countries. If you work in an international organisation, your outplacement provider must have an in-depth understanding of their local market as well as global reach.


Should Your Organisation Provide Outplacement Services?

The world of work is constantly changing. Employees in general, no longer looking for a career within one organisation. They no longer wish to work from 9 am – 5 pm and do not want to remain in one organisation for 30 years. Employees now are more fluid; they want to move from organisation to organisation every few years and tend to have a much wider range of skills than in previous years.

This, in turn, has led to HR leaders placing more importance on several key items. Firstly, reskilling employees. This helps to minimise unwanted movement out of an organisation and creates more opportunities for movement within. Secondly, HR leaders are placing more focus on balancing the rise of AI and workers roles within the workplace. With the fluidity of the workforce and the rise of AI, organisations are trying to deal with more movement than ever before. The need for outplacement services becomes stronger to support this movement.

Forward-thinking HR leaders may look at wider career management programmes for their employees. These will encompass employee well-being, experience and help to map out an employee’s career within the organisation, helping it to align with changing organisation goals due to outside forces, such as AI, and the employee’s passions, interests and personal goals.

We have seen the rise of the gig worker; boomerang workers and flexibility within the workplace soar over the past 10 years. Workers are happier moving within and out of organisations on their terms. When redundancies occur, which are out of their control, emotions set in. There are repercussions for the employees and employers. Communication between humans has never been easier. The experiences an employee receives from an organisation is shared far and wide within employee networks and beyond making them brand ambassadors for their place of work. It is becoming increasingly important for HR teams to have outplacement services available to exiting employees to protect the organisational brand during restructuring, acquisitions and any period of change.


Benefits of Offering Outplacement to Employees

Outplacement programmes aim to change an emotional and uncomfortable period for employees into an opportunity. They also help remaining employees deal with the changes in the workplace and support leaders in their roles.

In short, it is essential for any organisation facing redundancies within their workforce to have a strategic plan in place. This must be a step-by-step plan outlining the support provided for remaining employees, exiting employees and HR teams. Outplacement services will help to protect the organisation brand, help change a negative experience into a positive one and encourage the remaining workforce to embrace the change.

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