Laying Off? How to Help Your Employees Find New Jobs

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HelpingDespite a “somewhat improving” economy, layoffs and mass employee dismissals are still expected to happen throughout 2012 as companies continue to get lean as well as automate and outsource non-core business processes.  This leaves millions of Americans in the position of having to look for a new job.

There are several reasons why an employer should help their laid off employees in their new job search.

  • It creates goodwill with your former employees so they don’t bad mouth you
  • It’s the right thing to do
  • It helps minimize fear and anxiety amongst your remaining employees who worry about their jobs
  • It smooths out any bumps in transitioning employees out and shifting job responsibilities
  • It contributes positively to your employment brand and helps you hire talent back

What are the most valuable ways you can help employees with their job search?

There are two ways to help employees in the transition.  The first is to hire an outplacement firm that specializes in transitioning employees out of an organization.  These firms offer various packages from group seminars on how to write resumes, to more elaborate services which include offices where employees can go to every day while they are re-orienting themselves with the job market and preparing for interviews.

The second would be to assign an HR Business Partner, often times one of your recruiting staff members, to outplacement services.  This could be a contract position, or an ongoing position or function if your firm regularly decreases and increases in size.

There is much criticism around outplacement practices, and there are even movies which have mocked the process, Up In The Air with George Clooney was about a firm that was notorious for giving out “a packet” which was meant to alleviate employees concerns about having to search for a new position. Of course, the packet did very little to help.

If your firm chooses the second option and keep the process in-house, here are some recommended services you should consider offering:

  • Resume Coaching– Recruiters can really add a lot of value to helping employees with their resumes.  Go through a session on how you read resumes and what is most important to you when reviewing a resume
  • Resume Reviews– Recruiters can also add a lot of value in offering a one-on-one session to review the employees resume.  Be honest about how their resume comes across.  However, you also need to be sensitive to the fact that the employee didn’t want to have to put a resume together to begin with
  • Interview Coaching– Either group or one-on-one interviewing skill coaching is very valuable to employees who haven’t been in the job market for a while
  • Reciprocal Job Searching– Work with local employers who are hiring and see if you can get reciprocal preference for open positions.  If companies are regularly hiring and laying off this can be a great way to share resources.  Getting these types of “door openers” for your exiting employees is a huge benefit!
  • Time off during transition– You should offer a few hours per day a few days per week where employees can interview for new positions or spend time online looking for a new position
  • Internal job preference– If you are laying off and have several open positions, work with hiring managers to identify traits of employees who may be eligible to train for a different type of job.  Set up coffee meetings or a roundtable meeting with the managers who are hiring and the people managers of those who are being laid off and encourage open talk about how you might be able to fill some positions with candidates being laid off
  • Financial and Emotional counseling– This is likely going to be a very stressful time for these employees.  Have experts on hand who can offer advice on what to do with their 401K, stock options, and how to handle short term cash shortages, as well as budgeting advice.  Psychological support should also be encouraged and made available.
  • Benefits review– Set up several meetings with the benefits team and employees who are being let go so that employees have a very clear understanding of how their benefits work.  Offering a packet just isn’t enough here, as benefits can be complex.

There are probably many other ways that you can support your employees during this transition in addition to the ones listed here.  Bear in mind the impact that this transitional period is going to have on your existing staff, as well as candidates in the recruiting pipeline who may be concerned about accepting an offer from a company that is laying off. These two additional groups may require coaching and/or support as well, and you should always keep them in mind when planning.

Read more in Dismissal

Marie is a writer for covering career advice, recruitment topics, and HR issues. She has an educational background in languages and literature as well as corporate experience in Human Resources.