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Outplacement from a company’s point of view

19. Mai 2021

Stephan Breitfeld speaks with Dr. Sousan Schah-Zeidi  

Why should a company get involved in the topic of outplacement?

Sometimes and for whatever reason, companies are forced to part ways with longstanding employees, who have delivered good results in the course of their employment. Personal realignment, also known as outplacement, is an effective means for a company to handle the separation in a responsible and socially acceptable way for the employee, who will not be left alone leaving the company.  

Who in particular should deal with it?

Personal realignment is always relevant for companies who are parting with, usually, senior level employees with a significant influence on the overall morale of the team, who are well-respected among the colleagues. Personal realignment allows separation without spirit-shifts within the company. At the same time, it’s easier for the leaving employee to transfer the knowledge and stay productive and, above all, willing to perform right up to the end.

I especially advise outplacement to companies in smaller industries, where players know each other very well. A separating senior-level employee, who feels like he or she is being treated unfairly, may speak his or her mind, causing significant damage to the company’s brand. In this case, the realignment strategy serves to improve the relationship between the company and the leaving employee and to cushion potential reputational damage.

Is there an identifiable added value of outplacement?

Clearly, the added value is a quiet and socially acceptable separation. The company fulfills its duty of taking care of its employee, the overall mood in the company remains stable, the company culture stays positive and potential harm to the brand is prevented. Oftentimes it may even prevent disputes in court. In hard facts, it ultimately means a clear reduction in costs and maintenance of productivity.

How does outplacement function in practice?

Thank you for this question. I often come to the conclusion that it’s not quite straightforward.

The process goes as follows: a company has decided to part with the manager X who has worked for the company for the past 20 years. The company has a new management and a new strategy, so that the role of the manager X is no longer applicable. Nonetheless, the manager X has a great influence and relationship with the colleagues. The separation can cause a big stir both within the industry and inside the company. It is also desirable to support the manager X to quickly get an adequate position outside the company, allowing manager X to switch to the new employment. Thus, before addressing the manager X, the company gets in touch with a search consultant, whose expertise includes personal realignment. If the search consultant and the company agree on the terms and the type of cooperation, the company offers the manager X support through an outplacement consultant and, if the manager X agrees, the company moves on. From this point on, communication between the manager X and the search consultant begins, while the company usually steps aside.


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