Independent consultant for outplacement companies and for Jobprofile, I questioned myself about what will be the future of this industry in 10 years. What will it need to undertake to stick as closely as possible to the future needs and to ensure its continuity ?
A quick history of Outplacement
Outplacement got popular in the 60’s when « jobs for life » began to disappear. At the beginning, this service was designed for executives and upper-level employees, mostly men, giving them the means to keep up the appearances and a daily routine: a satellite office, a phone, and an assistant. They could then benefit from the job opportunities, the network and advise from experts in order to undertake their next step.
Almost 60 years later, things did not change much. Outplacement is still guided by nearly the same practices. Most offers in this field propose a few hours with a career expert, on a definite period of time, in order to guide the professionals to their next position. The approach is mainly concentrated on the CV creation and/or the personality analysis of the candidate. Group or individual coaching are added with workshops, as well as support for the application’s sending. This service in mostly provided in outplacement’s offices that are meant to recreate a dynamic and professional atmosphere and to allow people to network.
However, the world has radically changed with social media, technological advances and globalized economy, and in return, changed the way we work. To offer an outplacement service in adequacy with those changes requires the understanding of the new organisational needs, a constant monitoring of market trends, as well as the identification of the evolution of employee’s preferences. The traditional model where the employee is tied to his or her desk from 8AM to 8 PM is nearly over and with it all the normal business practices. Gig economy – the economy of temporary jobs, off-site workers, independent workers, those of flexible working hours – is settling durably. This new trend impacts deeply companies and HR departments. To maintain performance and attract the best talents, HR teams need to redouble their efforts to modify their way of attracting and retaining their employees, and this during all the employment life cycle. And when it comes to internal mobility, layoffs or restructuring, those challenges are especially important, as the reputation and the brand of companies are very sensitive information to protect in the era of social networks.
Impact on outplacement
Digital transformation and its benefits were adopted in the field of outplacement in a limited and uneven manner. Tools were modernized but not the way to address outplacement itself.
Yet, this industry would gain a lot evolving like the way of searching and finding a job did. I distinguish 3 significant elements to this evolution:
Candidates and consultants frequent less and less outplacement offices and placement agencies. They favour videoconference for its convenience and timesaving advantages. Today networking takes place everywhere and at any time, not necessarily in an office with people sharing the same situation and/or issue.
For clients of services of outplacement, the provision of tools on mobile devices, shortens time periods and, facilitate their transition to their next job opportunity.
The now-common view of time: speed. The requirement of swiftness applied to the world of outplacement unsettles habits and the running of classical coaching meetings. For what reason candidates should wait several weeks between each appointment? Or wait 4 to 6 weeks to be prepared for a job or to get one’s profile ready?
The field of outplacement needs to adapt and imitate the revolution started by online training (example: MOOC) by creating flexible programs. The “online” rise offers a better assimilation of content with a more frequent follow-up, mostly virtual.
Notion of time is crucial. Time lapses of layoff stages are felt in very different way for the employee or the company, henceforth preoccupied by two opposing dynamics.
The profile of candidates has also evolved. Changing job every 2 to 4 years is part of the norm now. Being dismissed is not as stigmatizing as it used to be, same for someone experiencing a period of unemployment. No one is immune to a layoff: a Sales Representative of 27 years old, the Marketing Coordinator of 32 or the Financial Director of 56, as well as the HR Manager of 40 years old.
As talents, their needs and requirements are different. Therefore, it is absurd and counterproductive to assume that the same standard process can apply for each one of them. Technological advances offer to each professional the possibility to access to personalized and tailored services, without constraint.
Status Quo is over
Today more than ever, professionals need, throughout their career, to apply some self-analysis in response to the new challenges of the modern job market. No one now expect to have a routine and boring job. Individuals are in search of challenge and recognition.
Outplacement practices chosen by employers say a great deal about the culture and mentality of the company, whether in the eyes of leaving employees, guarantors of the good reputation of the latter, or in the eyes of the current employees. Those choices translate the commitment of the company for the ones leaving the company and its will to accompany them. Employees will definitely engage themselves more in a company caring for them and their wellbeing. Besides, decision about outplacement is also important for the management and prevention of conflicts
This new approach of outplacement, usually lighter and cheaper in terms of structure and cost than traditional models, allows companies of all sizes to include this service in their benefit packages. Outplacement 2.0 addresses the need for leaving employees to take advantage of their professional experience to find a job in adequacy with their ambitions, by providing solutions, results as well as autonomy and confidence.
Change the mindset
Outplacement can no longer be only perceived like a specific tool designed for a crisis situation. Even tough, this service is used for specific needs by companies and HR departments, its know-how should be requested easily and freely at each stage of the professional career, allowing each talent to bounce back in case of unforeseen problem or in order to manage optimally his or her employability.