How to Choose An Outplacement Firm?

Is your organization facing the difficult task of planning upcoming layoffs? If so, it is crucial to prioritize outplacement benefits, and it’s never too late to do so. Providing compassionate support to your departing employees helps them transition smoothly and safeguards your brand and reputation in the industry. So, how do you choose the right outplacement firm?

Whether searching for an outplacement firm for the first time or reevaluating your current one, this blog presents the essential criteria for selecting a compassionate and reliable outplacement firm and considerations for both the employee experience and the employer.

Here are the top 5 things to consider as you explore your options related to your departing employees’ experience.

  1. Employee Focused: Look at outplacement firms that prioritize your exiting employees’ well-being and career success. This can be assessed by reviewing testimonials or case studies highlighting the outplacement firm’s commitment to personalized support. Ask potential outplacement partners what their intake process involves and how they match a career consultant with your separating employees. Choose the outplacement firm that emphasizes the focus and importance of a compassionate approach.
  2. Personalized Consulting: Outplacement services can vary depending on the provider, and personalized consulting is critical for a job seeker. Seek an outplacement firm that provides one-on-one consultants for employees at all levels and will customize their program to meet the needs of each individual. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your role was, a job transition is tough, and people come into a job transition with different needs and requirements. Working with a dedicated career consultant who will tailor the experience provides support, encouragement, direction, and accountability during an unsettling time.
  3. Consultant Bench & Expertise: Ask your potential vendor about their consultant-to-employee ratio. Beware of firms that overload consultants with numerous clients, as it may make employees feel undervalued. And make sure the firm you select has a team of expert consultants that can support all levels of people in an organization, from individual contributors to senior executives.
  4. Time Limit Considerations: Assess the duration of consulting benefits offered to employees. Evaluate if time-limited programs, typically lasting 30-60 days, add unnecessary stress and impact the quality of the outplacement benefit. Consider providers offering flexible time frames for their programs, boosting engagement and utilization. And be cautious of firms advertising unlimited consulting, as they may not provide optimal support.
  5. Technology: Does the outplacement firm have a technology platform to supplement one-on-one consulting support? We don’t recommend choosing a provider offering only a technology solution with no consulting element. However, it is essential to know if the firm you are looking at offers a technology platform for their clients. Having the option to securely tap into online job search resources, such as e-learning modules, resume templates, and interview simulators, under the guidance of their consultant is a win-win situation.

Now let’s explore the top 5 criteria that focus on the experience of the employer:

  1. Budget Friendly: Cost is often at the top of your mind during a layoff, but it is important to remember that you get what you pay for. Low cost doesn’t always translate into high value. Seek an outplacement firm that offers flexible service packages tailored to your organization’s budget and needs. Avoid a one size fits all solution. Choose a provider that offers different program levels depending on the scope of the layoff, the roles impacted, and the tenure of the employees.
  2. Responsiveness: The speed and responsiveness of an outplacement provider can significantly impact your decision-making process. How quickly did you receive a response from your initial phone call to learn more about their firm? Choosing a provider that promptly addresses your questions and provides comprehensive answers is critical. In today’s fast-paced world, time is money, and waiting too long for a response shouldn’t be the norm. And that timeliness directly correlates to your departing employee’s experience with their program.
  3. Analytics and Reporting: How will you know who is taking advantage of the outplacement program you have offered? The last thing you want is to provide this great benefit and either never know what has happened or discover that the engagement rate is low. Ensure the outplacement firm offers up-to-date reporting on program engagement and utilization rates. Also, inquire about ongoing communication and support for your stakeholders. Understand the metrics such as average utilization rates, time to land a new role, and satisfaction ratings for each firm and inquire if regular touchpoints are available to ensure deliverables are being met.
  4. Pre/Post Notification Planning Support: Ask the outplacement agency if they offer guidance and logistics planning for an upcoming reduction-in-force (RIF). It is especially beneficial if you haven’t had to manage a layoff in a long time to work with a firm with the experience and best practices to navigate the day of logistics, termination scripts, manager training, and organizational renewal workshops for the surviving employees.
  5. Payment options: When it comes to your payment options, it is vital to understand the factors that trigger your invoice. Are you being charged for individuals who do not take advantage of the outplacement program? Many outplacement firms follow a payment structure that only requires you to pay if the person engages in their consulting program. And it is essential to determine the definition of “engagement” for each company. Additionally, exploring whether discounts are available for bulk program purchases can be advantageous.

As you can see, there are many things to consider as you make the critical decision on whom to partner with for your outplacement. Choosing a firm due to its size or market recognition is not always the way to go. Conduct thorough research and do your homework to find a long-term outplacement agency who cares for both the employer and the employee. By selecting the right outplacement partner, you can navigate layoffs with compassion and support, ensuring a smooth transition for all involved parties.

How to start a career transition program

At Keystone Partners, we apply years of expertise in order to create goal-oriented, custom outplacement programs for individuals and organizations. Contact us today and see how our tailored approach to layoff and RIF services creates a more effective and engaged workforce.

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