This is a true story of when I lost my job due to a lay off and the feelings, emotions, struggles and challenges I experienced when faced with losing my role. (Spoiler alert- there is a happy ending to this story- thanks to my former employer, who chose to do the right thing for me and their organization.)
Several years back, the organization I worked for in an HR capacity, underwent a huge transformation following an acquisition which impacted thousands of employees over the course of approximately 18 months. I too was one of those impacted, but not until after 18 months of supporting the organization and its teams through this huge change and seeing first hand the immense toll that losing one’s job takes on individuals.
I would describe this time as a period of turmoil. Upon the announcement of the acquisition, many if not all employees felt very insecure about the future in terms of the company and their continued employment, and rightfully so. Some employees did not want to deal with the uncertainty and jumped ship early on. Others decided to stick around however, not knowing how long they would work there pending future layoffs, there were many feelings of anxiety permeating the workplace and impacting productivity and morale.
Personally, while I was a strong performer, I saw the writing on the wall in terms of how the new HR team would be structured and how my role would not be in alignment. Despite this foresight, on the day of my own layoff, I still felt all of the emotions that one experiences when they experience job loss. Some anger, of course, and some sadness of leaving behind those that I had worked with over the course of the last 5 years. The worst part though was the FEAR. The FEAR that you will not find a job that you will enjoy that is in alignment with your passions and purpose in life. The FEAR that if you do find a next role, you will not have the work-life balance to be able to take care of your family and personal well-being. The FEAR that you will use up all of your savings and have to start eating ramen for dinner every night.
Additionally, because you have spent your time working with the daily grind of your work schedule and deadlines, you can’t remember any of the achievements that you have had in the past 10 years. You are unable to think of any of your strengths that have gotten you to this point in your career. You DEFINITELY can’t remember how to write a resume or interview, and you sure as hell don’t feel prepared to get out there and network. Yikes, what now?
One word – Outplacement.
Outplacement is a benefit offered by some organizations to laid-off employees. These programs utilize a process that offers support and training in managing this huge change in transitioning to a new job. Resources and coaching can help former employees deal with the aforementioned emotional toll, help them to identify what they want to do next, and additionally provide tactical support related to career search components like resumes, cover letters, interviewing assistance, etc. Implementing outplacement programs has been shown to result in immensely positive outcomes for both the former employee and employer.
For the individual:
The most obvious positive outcome: Helping the former employee find a new role.
As mentioned previously, laid-off employees often feel a range of emotions and reactions to being laid-off. Many don’t even know where to start the process of finding a new job. Outplacement services can help these individuals and guide them through steps that will enable them to be job ready more quickly. Oftentimes, outplacement services will include online tools and resources in addition to sessions with a career coach that will support them in figuring out what they want to do in their career, training needs, and planning the action steps to get there.
For the Employer:
Aside from just being the right thing to do, providing outplacement services to laid-off employees also protects an organization’s brand image in 2 ways:
- Maintaining surviving employee morale
Layoffs can lead to decreased morale and distrust amongst those employees that stay on. They may spend their time worrying about if they are next or questioning the values or viability of the organization which in turn can make it a negative environment to work in. When employers offer outplacement to those laid-off, those employees can see that the employer is taking action to help support those laid-off, which can help with maintaining positive morale and help with retention.
- Maintaining goodwill with former employees
Providing outplacement support can help to move employees that have been laid-off from staying in a place of anger to looking to a brighter future if they have support and resources that can enable them to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Employees are then less likely to post or share negative comments about their experience and the organization, which could ultimately deteriorate a company’s reputation and brand.
I was one of the lucky ones! My organization saw the value of providing outplacement support. I started meeting with my assigned coach and taking advantage of the resources offered immediately. Surprisingly, even though I thought I was pretty smart since I had spent most of my career in HR, I learned SO many helpful strategies related to a successful career search that I didn’t know existed. My career coach and I had a great connection, and she provided me with the accountability that I needed to put in the work to find my next path. I would be lying if I said my job hunt was all sunshine and rainbows. As with any job search, I encountered some highs AND lows, but it was awesome to have my coach to support me through these times when I needed a confidence boost to keep me on track.
So employers – What are you waiting for?
Reach out now to Ama La Vida to find out more about how we can provide outplacement support to help support your employees through tough layoffs, enable you to preserve your brand image, but most of all, entrust Ama La Vida to help you do the right thing.