How can I support exiting employees?

Strategic HR Review

ISSN: 1475-4398

Article publication date: 8 April 2014



White, B. (2014), "How can I support exiting employees?", Strategic HR Review, Vol. 13 No. 3.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

How can I support exiting employees?

Article Type: Q&A From: Strategic HR Review, Volume 13, Issue 3

How can I support exiting employees?

Leading industry experts answer your strategic questions

Outplacement support, ideally via an impartial third party, can help smooth employees’ departure from an organization. When businesses think of outplacement, most associate it with redundancies often linked to downsizing. However, outplacement can also be used to help manage change following a merger or acquisition, to reorganize teams and to help exiting employees transition effectively and compassionately into new roles.

Outplacement is used by all sectors and for a variety of reasons. For some organizations, it is about protecting their employee brand. If a company wants to be recognized as an employer of choice, the last thing it wants is for a pocket of exiting employees to berate it publically for its poor and uncaring exit strategy.

But aside from this, most organizations genuinely want to ensure that their employees, who in many instances have given years of service to them, are given sufficient support to help them transition effectively and smoothly into their next career. Not only does this give the employees a greater chance of finding their next role or career, but in the long term it helps to reinforce positive employer branding.

Starting the support process early

In an ideal scenario, the outplacement support process would start months before announcements about redundancies are made. This helps to ensure that communications, legalities and senior briefings are all conducted in advance to create a consistent message in what can be a volatile time.

For large scale redundancies, arranging to have support available on the day an announcement is made can be hugely beneficial to employees and organizations alike. This means that support is immediately available to employees with career coaches, who are already aware of the situation, waiting outside ready to talk through next steps and try to alleviate any concerns and fears about the future.

Once the consultation period has completed, career coaches can then go on site to run workshops or one-to-one sessions with employees to help them plan for their next move. This support needs to be flexible, for example, covering different shifts and ensuring operations are not disrupted.

The personal touch

The first stage for many employees is often an initial meeting, which helps them to really think about their future plans and goals, whilst factoring in financial and family commitments. This can sometimes be challenging, with some individuals unsure of what it is they want to do next. Do they want a career change? Do they want to set up their own business? Or remain in their industry and local area? The role of the coach is to challenge, present and explore possible avenues that someone might not have previously thought about, helping the individual to make the right decision for them. Part of this plan can incorporate psychometric testing, helping employees to identify their strengths and motivations and really see where their future career may lie.

However, this is against the backdrop of the current state of their emotions. They may be feeling angry and resentful, have concerns over financial matters, have accepted the situation and be moving on or feel optimistic about new opportunities. Whatever the stage of emotions, career coaches have to adapt to each scenario and advise sensitively.

Thinking ahead and taking action for job hunting

The next stage is to help develop a plan and get them ready for job hunting. This often starts with the basics of updating or reviewing CVs, which for many is a daunting task. Whilst this may sound straightforward, some exiting employees may have been in employment for decades and the recruitment and economic landscape has changed considerably since they last looked for work. The explosion in the use of social media in job hunting – including having a robust and marketable LinkedIn profile, for example – has completely changed the way candidates look, and can be found, for suitable roles. It is important for individuals to understand how and why social media impacts career searches, as it acts as a window for employers and recruiters to see their skills and experience.

Following this, helping individuals to identify opportunities is the next step, and this can be done through a blended approach of workshops and one-to-one coaching. It may include investigating and developing a plan around networking and how to build and use networks to uncover hidden opportunities. Once opportunities have been identified, the objective switches to ensuring individuals present themselves strongly and stand out from any competition. For example, video analysis can be used to help hone interview techniques, by analyzing body language, posture and responses to questions.

Even when someone receives a job offer, the outplacement provider can help them with developing skills to enable them to successfully handle the finer negotiations around salary, all helping to ensure that they secure the right role for them.

Making an impact

Overall, outplacement is about more than just redundancies. Supporting organizations and their employees through great change can extend from before a change management project has commenced right through to completion. For remaining employees, this provides the much needed support to help them cope with change and succeed in the future. For exiting employees, it means that they stand a much better chance of finding new employment – and choosing a career to which they are suited. For the employer, it helps to maintain their solid brand and position them as a caring organization.

Bev White
Bev White is based at Penna PLC, London, UK

About the author

Bev White is managing director, Penna Careers Services, at Penna Plc. She joined Penna in 2002 and has led Penna’s Career Transition business into the number one position in the UK market place in the private sector. White is a main board director of Penna PLC. White’s earlier career included seven years as CIO of NtL and prior to that as director I.T. for Schlumberger. Today, she is chair of the Career Star group, which delivers to over 70 countries across the globe, and president of the UK Association of Career Firms and of the European Board for the Association of Career Firms. Bev White can be contacted at:

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