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  • Nigel Nolan

Ethical Outplacement or Retrenchment

Outplacement / retrenchment is a stressful time for both those losing their jobs and those involved in administering the process such as HR staff and managers. Employers are obliged to make the process as dignified and respectful as possible, and to do so sensitively and fairly. The Tripartite Advisory on Managing Excess Manpower and Responsible Retrenchment (from the Ministry of Manpower) elaborates on how companies should do this. In particular, MoM stresses that employers should assist those being retrenched in finding an alternative job and recommends the provision of outplacement assistance programmes or outplacement support services.

Outplacement support provides benefits to both the affected employees and to the employer.

For the displaced employees, outplacement support reduces the stress and anxiety the situation causes, and helps them maintain a positive outlook. Frequently the support provided reframes the awfulness of the situation into one of opportunity for the employees. Most importantly, outplacement support makes their job search more efficient and effective, and reduces the timeframe in finding another suitable position.

For the employer, the benefits of providing outplacement support to retrenched employees includes reducing the inevitable impact on the organisation’s reputation and brand, and helps preserve the goodwill of terminated employees. It also helps improve the morale, motivation, and productivity of remaining employees, and makes the firing process somewhat easier for managers and HR staff involved.

Outplacement support should be provided as soon as possible, preferably the same day that affected employees are notified. There are two benefits to this: Firstly, it provides immediate emotional support to those being retrenched, and secondly, it facilitates them in starting their job search immediately and in a planned way. The job search strategy part of the outplacement support will ensure that the affected employees avoid the many mistakes that job hunters are prone to.

Outplacement support has four main components. Firstly, as mentioned above, it is essential that each retrenched employee has a personal job search strategy that utilises the three approaches to finding jobs. This is the primary focus of outplacement support.

Secondly, the retrenched employee needs an impactful resume that will be noticed by those hiring managers it is sent to. An impactful and focused resume secures an interview. Thirdly, the retrenched employees as job applicants need to know how to convert job interviews into job offers. Most outplacement support services provide these three components. The fourth component is career choice and planning which gets the retrenched employee to look wider than their previous job or role. If one company is reducing its headcount in a particular function, it is probable that other companies may be doing so either now or in the not-so-distant future. It is therefore advisable for people to look at other jobs that they may be suitable for. This career choice process also helps individuals identify and compile their skills, strengths and work values – all of which supports their overall job search process.


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