The Redundancy of Outplacement




the provision of assistance to redundant employees in finding new employment, either as a benefit provided by the employer directly, or through a specialist service.

It might seem strange that someone who has built a career helping employees who are experiencing career transitions would call “outplacement” redundant, however I think it’s time for us to reassess the relevance of this label in the new world.

Over the last 8 months every person I have spoken to has experienced some level of redundancy in their work, and I think it is important to clarify here that it is not employees who become redundant, but rather it’s their jobs or aspects thereof.

Following a phone call with a Leader from an inspirational Private School, I began contemplating how this redundancy is affecting all strata of society and industry. In this case it ranges from full shut down in job functions such as lab and library technicians and facilities support staff to the complete reinvention of critical functions such as teaching. This is only one small example of how the ripples of COVID-19 are shivering through our employment market.

Employees everywhere are frantically pivoting into new jobs which require new skills. Many of these changes involve leaving companies and (hopefully) these people will be provided with varying degrees of “outplacement” support. Even for those people who are still busy (in fact for many, busier than ever before!) there is a level of grief and letting go of the old way of doing things and a reassessment of the passion for this new job they find themselves doing.

For those who remain in these re-imagined and transformed roles, however, there is not necessarily support to manage this change.

This is to be expected. We are all managing and just doing our best. In fact, the responsiveness of our business leaders at this time has (for the most part) been inspirational.

The notion of “outplacement” however, underplays the significance of the shift happening for employees regardless of their employment status. We all need to manage change and transition and to develop resilient mindsets. We all need to regain a sense of control over the work we do and be enabled to review our career goals and vision in light of an uncertain and dynamic future.

The career transition model that has served us well in the past just isn't sufficient to provide the breadth and depth of support that is needed as a result of COVID-19 and it's impacts.

While most small to medium organisations struggle to justify any financial investment in outplacement for exiting employees, they certainly can't contemplate consultancy fees for those with some level of job security. Internally, HR Managers are already stretched beyond capacity navigating their new COVID reality and have a raft of competing priorities.

Let's remember that prior to the events of this year, small business employed 44% of Australia's workforce. At a guess that could mean that over 50% of workers in Australia are unlikely to receive much if any career change management support at the time when they need it most! This is a priority, not merely from a well-being perspective. It is crucial that our workforce is harnessed, resilient and adaptable as we pull out of this crisis and rebuild as a nation. Now is the time to do the ground work.

Confronting as it might be for my contemporaries, I think it is time to reinvent career transition and focus on how we can have maximum impact on the many as opposed to maximum profit from the few.

It’s time to shelve the notion of “outplacement” in favour of what we are all facing as a collective. Extraordinary Career Transition. It’s time to disrupt.

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