Outplacement: showing the way
Many companies in India are providing career transition support to their employees to help them find a new job
In the Oscar- nominated film Up in the Air, George Clooney plays the character of a high-flying outplacement counsellor whose job is to fire people at the behest of corporates who don’t want to do it themselves.
“It’s nothing personal,” he tells one employee. “This (the firing) can show you the way and even help you chase your dream of becoming a chef,” he tells another.
Several companies in India, especially banking, engineering, telecom and information technology firms, have made
A still from the film Up in the Air in which George Clooney plays the role of a transition specialist
many jobs redundant following a restructuring exercise. But instead of handing out a ‘rude’ pink slip, they are utilising the services of outplacement companies that not only help employees get a new job but also enable them to realise their true calling. What outplacement primarily does is to ensure that the exit is smooth and the goodwill of the employer remains intact. In many cases, employees have even readily rejoined the company that helped outplace them. The exercise also serves as a great retention tool because of the positive impact it has on the high potential employees, perhaps the first ones to start look- ing out when layoffs take place.
Susan Vohra, 31, who worked with an IT research firm as an HR head for over three years, was asked to seek help from a career transition company when her firm decided to limit the scope of her role. Less than two months into the counselling sessions, she was offered the role of an HR head with a global IT company. It was while receiving training with the outplacement firm that she realised that she performed better in larger organisations. She got a better idea of the environment suitable for her from these sessions. “Sometimes a third party professional intervention helps you rethink your priorities. What I want to do in the future became clear through discussions during these sessions. It also made me decide that after acquiring experience for more than 15 years, I will do something on my own,” she adds.
Why is it necessary?
The biggest impact of career transition services is on the employees who continue to be in the system, points out Chaitali Mukherjee, country manager, India, Right Management, a company that helps corporates manage their employees’ careers.
Career transition helps in retaining high performers because they respect the way the outgoing employees are treated by their company. Hence, it’s a smart move to provide career transition support not just for the impacted employees but also to manage retention and engagement of existing employees, she adds.
Career transition is a winwin for both employees and employers as it helps build goodwill for the latter. “Many employees have readily rejoined us when we have reached out to them. It’s the trust and bonding with the company that counts.
The fact that the company did not discard them but took care of their long-term aspirations helps,” says Krishna Bhagawan, director HR, Motorola Solutions.
Over the last few years, more than 400 employees of Motorola have availed the services of an outplacement company. Outplacement becomes necessary when a company needs to balance the aspirations of employees with the business requirements of the company, he says.
The objective is to make employees of the company cope with the change and give them proper opportunities so that they are prepared for their careers. The cost is generally borne by the company and is part of the business restructuring budget.
“Outplacement has been done across levels but we have found that it takes longer to outplace employees at the senior level as lateral opportunities are less since many companies prefer to grow from within. They are therefore, given more advanced notice and a higher time frame for transition,” he adds.