Should You Invite the Outplacement Firm On-Site for the Notification Meeting?

by Clara Nydam, Career Momentum, Inc./Career Partners International – Madison

Throughout my career as an outplacement consultant, I have been involved in a large number of outplacement notifications and have found that no two notifications are the same. All people react differently to unexpected career transitions; some face it head on, excited for the next stage of their career while others struggle with the news and are not sure what to do next. There are many things that can go awry if a termination isn’t handled appropriately or if support is withheld. Involving your outplacement firm when the termination is being planned helps companies minimize potential negative impacts.

In the twenty-seven years that Career Partners International has been providing outplacement services, we’ve developed best practices for notifications that protect our client companies’ reputations and employment brands while balancing legal concerns (including employee privacy) with concerns for each impacted employee’s welfare. Sensitively handling these situations can enhance the separated individual’s ability to transition more quickly to a new job with a new employer.

When there is a need to separate employees, the importance of maintaining the confidentiality of all information cannot be over-stressed. However, the one partner outside of your organization that should be trusted is your outplacement provider. Consulting with your outplacement provider for assistance in the planning and implementation of the notification process contributes to smoother notifications. Having been involved in numerous notifications, we assist our clients with scenario planning, messaging and training for those delivering the difficult messages.

Delivering a separation message is never easy. Yet properly crafted and delivered, the message can be more palatable. Craft the separation message based on the needs of the business. Deliver it succinctly then shift to be a skilled listener. If you listen well, the employee tells you what he or she needs to hear; however, avoid offering assistance that you cannot or do not intend to provide. For smoother notifications, saying less is the best strategy followed by an introduction to the on-site career transition consultant.

Having an on-site career transition consultant provides a valuable transition similar to passing a baton. It gives the messenger the opportunity to step away while the consultant takes charge of the person, listens, extends support, and develops a follow-up strategy. In most cases, this helps separating employees gain control of their emotions and provides the opportunity for a dignified exit from the building.

While some organizations believe they are protecting employees whose behavior may be unpredictable upon hearing the devastating news of job loss, scheduling in-person meetings with the outplacement consultant immediately following the notification helps create smoother notifications. The opportunity to connect with an expert in career transition is reassuring, especially when individuals react with shock or anger.

Keep in mind that separating employees have just been asked to absorb and accept some life-altering news. Empowerment becomes very important at this moment. Empowerment is based on a sense of security, self-worth, and control. Before the employee can begin to accept the company’s decision and move forward, there is a need to feel empowered again. Experienced career consultants provide separated employees with critical assistance to assimilate the news, adjust to the new circumstances and begin the process of feeling empowered.

While meeting with the on-site career transition consultant, separated employees share their personal contact information with the outplacement consultant themselves. This mitigates any organizational concerns about sharing employees’ private contact information. Additionally, in situations where the company requires a severance agreement to be signed, former employees often talk with the career consultant about any concerns, many of which are quickly alleviated helping individuals to move forward.

So, should you invite your outplacement firm on-site for the notification meeting? Involving your outplacement firm in the notification process helps your firm mitigate a number of risks and ensures a smooth notification. Can you afford not to?