February 12, 2013

The Company Men and Outplacement

looking upI recently watched a movie called “The Company Men“. In it outplacement services had a brief but memorable role as initially depressing, then falsely cheerful and finally a source of hope and inspiration.

It’s not difficult to see why this would be the way unemployment, and its frequent companion outplacement services might be portrayed. After all, the standard for finding a job in the United States over the past five years has been anything but good news for jobseekers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average unemployed duration for American workers is 41.9 weeks, or about 10.5 months!

As the corporate walking wounded reel from their layoffs for nearly a year, the standard outplacement fare can begin to grate. The false promises, the feeling that a cubicle from which to call your small network is a small consolation prize for years of service. Outplacement has a bad rap.

Perhaps, the model is due for an overhaul? That’s what outplacement firm Careerminds thinks. Touting something they call Outplacement 2.0, they’ve turned the traditional model of outplacement into something a little more productive.

The entire process hinges on a Learning Management System, wherein job seekers work through a series of modules that focus on things like building out their social networks, increasing brand visibility and incorporating modern jobseeking tactics into their strategy for finding their next opportunity.

And it’s working. A recent press release put the average time for a Careerminds job seeker to find a job at 12 weeks, less than a third of the national average. While those numbers will vary based on where the jobseeker is located and just how skilled the worker is, they are a far cry from the 10 month stat from the BLS.

Twelve weeks, according to Careerminds CEO Raymond Lee, “is a major achievement not only for the company but for the outplacement industry as a whole. Careerminds has been investing heavily in technological innovation and career consulting best practices—and it’s paying off in a big way for the job seeker. We will continue to pioneer new, more effective ways to deliver outplacement in 2013. Our goal continues to be getting the job seeker back to work not only faster, but into the most desirable job.”

So how is this different than other career transition services? I have my theories.

Gamification is right at the top of the list. In the back end of the system, a jobseeker goes through a series of educational modules that he or she must complete to move on to the next level, eventually ending up with a completed chapter. This is not so different from the system LinkedIn has put in place to reach a 100% completed profile (and those prompts work right?)

Gartner Research predicts that by 2015, 40% of Global 1000 organizations will use gamification as a primary mechanism to transform business operations.

Game techniques can motivate employees, reinforce and sustain desired behaviors, improve morale and make tasks more fun.  If you want to engage your employees in 2013, consider gamification.

But what about engagement? One of the biggest issues with displaced workers is how easily inaction can take over. A system that is part LMS and part community not only ensures that these jobseekers are accountable for their own success but also creates a sense of individuals in this together and helps them build networks for the future.

Standard outplacement coaching still exists but instead of a face to face transition, the coaches speak with their clients via phone and email.

Because the system is entirely online, it helps technically challenged jobseekers get up to speed on skills they may not have used in years, showing them the benefits of working through social media and networking to get their next job. The coaches assist when jobseekers have issues or frustrations.

Despite all these advances, outplacement still isn’t anyone’s favorite part of HR, but when leaders know that even though they have to make difficult decisions, they can still provide outplacement services that help their former employees get back to work… faster.

Read more in Outplacement

Maren Hogan is a seasoned marketer and community builder in the HR and Recruiting industry. She leads Red Branch Media, an agency offering marketing strategy and content development. A consistent advocate of next generation marketing techniques, Hogan has built successful online communities, deployed brand strategies in both the B2B and B2C sectors, and been a prolific contributor of thought leadership in the global recruitment and talent space. Hogan speaks and writes on all career and workforce related subjects. Her clients include Fortune 500 companies and SMBs around the globe. Red Branch Media was formed in 2006 as a simple consultancy. Today, the firm is a full-service B2B Marketing Agency that serves clients in the U.K., Africa, China, Israel, Europe and North America. Primarily focused on the Human Resources and Global Workforce vendors, Red Branch Media handles clients of all shapes and sizes.
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