This article appears to contain a large number of buzzwords. (July 2011)
Outplacement is the support service provided by responsible organizations, keen to support individuals who are exiting the business (voluntarily or involuntarily) – to help former employees transition to new jobs and help them re-orient themselves in the job market. A consultancy firm usually provides the outplacement services which are paid for by the former employer and are achieved usually through practical advice, training materials and workshops. Some companies may offer psychological support.
Outplacement is either delivered through individual one-on-one sessions or in a group format. Topics include career guidance, career evaluation, job search skills, targeting the job market, resume writing, interview preparation, developing networks, and negotiation.
Consultants support individuals seeking a new job, and also those looking to start a new business, retire, or structure a portfolio of activities. Programs have time limits, ranging from a few months to more extended periods, such as 12 months and are offered at all levels of the organization, from workers to corporate employees.
Outplacement provides former employees structure and guidance towards their new career option, and preserves the morale of those who remain in the Company who see that colleagues are given the necessary support when they leave the company.
The term outplacement was coined more than 30 years ago by James E. Challenger, the founder of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based career consultancy. Challenger created the concept of outplacement and the initial programs to implement it.
With the increased rates of downsizing, rightsizing, redundancies and layoffs, particularly during the 1980s and 1990s, businesses increasingly found a need for some form of assistance in reducing the trauma of redundancy for both departing employees and those who remain. Indeed, research shows that losing one's job is one of the most stressful experiences a person can face other than death and divorce.
The Wall Street Journal reported in 2009 that U.S. corporations were dissatisfied with the quality of outplacement services they received:
As demand rises in the $4 billion-a-year outplacement business, providers increasingly offer standardized services, which some workers say offer little value. Businesses anxious to shed former employees quickly and cheaply impose time limits that hamper effectiveness. Few employers track whether outplacement works.
The best outplacement programs provide ongoing support, as it is often the case that after the individual has not been able to find a new job after searching for a number of weeks that they need the most help. Many companies will stop providing support after an allotted time although some companies provide support for as long as the individual needs it. Some also track the success rate of re-employment to help evaluate their services.
In popular culture
In the 2009 movie Up in the Air George Clooney plays the lead role of Ryan Bingham, an man who travels the world to dismiss employees on behalf of employers who didn't want to do so themselves. Many people have unfortunately confused this with the role of an outplacement consultant, who are much more focused on delivering benefits to employees than the character in the film.
- Doherty, Noeleen (1998). "The role of outplacement in redundancy management". Personnel Review. 27 (4). p. 343.
- Littler, Craig R. (2003). Understanding the HR Strategies of the 1990s. University of Queensland Business School Seminar Series.
- Lewison, J. (2002). "From Fired to Hired". Journal of Accountancy. 193 (6): 43.
- Dvorak, Phred; Lublin, Joann S (August 20, 2009). "Outplacement Firms Struggle to Do Job". Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Retrieved January 21, 2016.