Career Transition & Outplacement

Organizations are facing extreme financial pressure and uncertainty, forcing many to furlough or lay off valuable employees. How well an organization handles these transitions can profoundly alter their reputation with clients, current employees and future hires. Layoffs always create fear and upset, but these uniquely poor labor market conditions exacerbate those emotions because it is so much harder to find an equivalent job, or even one at all. Preparing employees for transition is arguably more critical today than it has ever been before.

Downsizing a workforce by 1% leads to a 31% increase in voluntary turnover the next year.
Source: HBR

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Current realities are forcing companies to face real-time pressure to realign workforces. Discover why the most effective programs treat career transition as a journey rather than a single event.

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Your questions

Every day, COVID-19 is raising new and complex questions for leaders and organizations to answer. Korn Ferry’s Scott Bohannon shares his perspective and advice.

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How we can help you

At the start of the great recession, Glassdoor was only one year old, Facebook had just introduced the like button, and Instagram and Snapchat weren’t invented yet. Employers also had much less visibility into potential employees' career history. But today, layoffs happen in a hyperconnected world.

We have a unique understanding of the job market. Every business day we place a candidate every three minutes. We also collect annually tens of millions of assessments and compensation data points. Those insights allow us to provide highly tailored career, job search, and skill development guidance to executives and other employees who need to move to new jobs. We deliver our guidance through a state-of-the-art technology platform, and coaching from the world’s leading search professionals and career coaches. People find better jobs faster, and are better prepared to succeed in their new roles. Organizations, in turn, protect and enhance their reputations while reducing their career transition costs.

We provide highly tailored career and job search guidance and skill development.

Most candidates see the job market through the lens of their most recent job. In their interviews, resumes, and other communications, they use language and positioning that don’t match the expectations of hiring organizations. Candidates also usually don’t fully understand their strengths and how to present them. And they have a narrow, even incorrect, view of the types of jobs where they might succeed.

We take candidates through a rigorous assessment that identifies their strengths and benchmark them against millions of other people. Our career coaches combine the results of that assessment with our executive, professional, and permanent position search experience to provide tailored and effective career coaching. We provide skill development programs that improve their value in the market. We enhance their resumes and interview techniques. We tap into our 29m+ compensation data points to help them understand their value in the market. We point them to the best job opportunities. And we guide them in negotiating their offer. In short, candidates end up in better jobs, faster.

We take candidates through a rigorous assessment that identifies their strengths and benchmarks them against others.

Losing their job can be one of the most upsetting experiences in someone’s life. While organizations invest heavily in delivering their separation messages compassionately, the displaced employees may feel betrayed and abandoned. Career transition services can reduce those negative feelings and even foster loyalty over time. For displaced employees, providing them with targeted courses that improve their ability to perform in their next job, increases their ability to find a new job, and delivers a much more powerful message of care than job search support alone.

We provide access to a broad library of on-demand learning coupled with career coach guidance to provide displaced employees with skills and professional development, demonstrating tangibly that the organization cares about their success even after they leave. And critically, remaining employees see that they will receive similar support if they lose their jobs in the future.

We provide access to a broad library of on-demand learning coupled with career coach guidance.

Furloughs rather than layoffs can create advantages for employees and organizations. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to engage furloughed employees. Usually the organization has fewer resources during challenging financial conditions. Moreover, furloughed employees often experience similar emotional turmoil to displaced employees.

We provide on-demand skill and professional development, to help furloughed employees to improve their skills, significantly increasing their belief that the organization does in fact intend to bring them back to work. The organization also has a stronger message to the market when business improves – we aren’t just back, we’re better.

We provide on-demand skill and professional development, to help furloughed employees to improve their skills.

Executive transitions present unique challenges. Very few open positions will be available at any given time that offer a good fit. It’s also much more difficult for an executive to convincingly demonstrate their fit for a position – something many other highly qualified candidates will be attempting at the same time. Offer negotiations also present significant complexity. As a result, it routinely takes an executive 6-12 months to land the right role.

We work with organizations across the globe, every day, to design their executive searches and work closely with them throughout the sourcing and screening process. We also collect annually tens of millions of assessments and compensation data points. Those insights allow us to provide highly tailored career, job search, and skill development guidance. That’s why most executives we place turn to us when they make a career change or launch an executive search themselves.

We are uniquely positioned to provide highly tailored career guidance and skill development.

Deep insights at your fingertips – at all times

In our hands it’s more than just data. We use it to build the DNA of outstanding leaders, effective organizations, high performance cultures and game-changing reward programs. In your hands it can continue to inform smarter decisions backed by more than 4 billion data points, including:
– Over 69 million assessment results
– 8 million employee engagement survey responses
– Rewards data for 20 million employees across 25,000 organizations and 150+ countries

Our thinking

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Outplacement services: Helping career transitions during the coronavirus

While the current threats with COVID-19 may seem similar to the risks present during the 2008 financial crisis, they are far different in their potential negative consequences on five fronts: financial, employment, health care, reputational, and emotional.

  • Financial: The projected impact of the coronavirus on the economy is significantly larger than that of the financial crisis. For example, the U.S. is forecast to have an annualized unemployment rate that’s 50% higher by midyear than in 2008 and 2009. Moreover, the country’s gross domestic product is also expected to undergo a precipitous decline.
  • Employment: The job market is going to markedly tighten. In the last two weeks of March alone, almost 10 million U.S. employees filed for unemployment, dwarfing all previous claim levels. By mid-April, the number of unemployed Americans reached 22 million, and the Federal Reserve estimates that the number might climb to 47 million.
  • Health care: In many countries, employees who lose their job won’t be able to afford health care—in the midst of a viral pandemic.
  • Reputational: Social media was in its fledgling years back in 2008. Today, employees vent and share damaging stories about their employers in real time on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Glassdoor, and more.
  • Emotional: On top of fears about the virus, people will learn about job displacements from their home, a place that is typically their personal refuge from danger, fueling disparagement online and by word of mouth.

This means that organizations are likely facing the prospect of laying off people in one of the worst job markets in history. They need all the help they can get to ease the process for exiting employees and alleviate the concerns of employees who remain. That’s why outplacement services and executive outplacement support are so important during this time of transition.

Layoffs cause long-term negative effects for more than exiting employees

Layoffs often have a devastating impact on employees who are laid off as well as those who remain with firms. As evidence, consider the employees who were displaced during the financial crisis of 2008. Even a decade later, they had:

  • Significantly lower income.
  • Fewer job opportunities.
  • A greater likelihood of being displaced again.
  • Smaller social and professional support networks.
  • More mental health issues and disproportionate physical health problems.
  • Less trust in organizations and society.

But the exiting employees weren’t the only ones who felt the pain of loss. Organizations also suffered:

  • Impaired reputations.
  • Decreased shareholder value.
  • Reduced long-term performance.
  • Lower employee engagement, commitment, discretionary effort, and mental health.

The larger the layoffs and the younger the firm, the greater the magnitude of these impacts.

But the effects of layoffs and economic downturns don’t have to be so drastic, even in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Some firms will rebound quickly from adversity and find ways to improve their performance, employee morale, and wealth creation. And some employees who lose their jobs will ultimately find better jobs, more sustainable career paths, and happiness. These positive changes are most likely when organizations take proactive steps to implement outplacement services and solutions that mitigate the negative impact of layoffs on displaced employees as well as those who remain.

Organizations need to support exiting employees with outplacement services during the COVID-19 crisis

Exiting employees are ordinarily fearful; their fears are only heightened now, during the coronavirus pandemic. Employees who have lost their job feel extreme pressure on several fronts: they need to support themselves and their families, and they also likely feel an acute need for medical benefits for themselves and their dependents. As a result, they’re likely to start their job search as soon as they learn of their layoff.

Knowing that they’re searching in an already tight job market may pressure them into taking the first job that’s available, even if it’s not a good fit for their needs in terms of its compensation, responsibility, career aspirations, or job satisfaction. Choosing the wrong job leads to a host of problems that are likely to follow the displaced employee for the rest of their working days, including a feeling of powerlessness and of being treated unfairly.

Organizations that offer exiting employees outplacement solutions from national outplacement firms can lessen these negative effects while sending a positive message that reassures remaining employees and mitigating the risk of reputational harm.

Five steps that organizations who offer outplacement services can take to improve outcomes for exiting employees

Organizations that offer comprehensive outplacement services from a national outplacement firm can cushion the blow of layoffs for affected employees.

  1. Act quickly. If your organization is likely to layoff or furlough employees, don’t delay. But be sure that your actions free up enough cash flow so that you are less likely to endure multiple rounds of layoffs and can properly invest in support for the remaining employees as well as outplacement services for the exiting employees. It’s natural to want to put off drastic employment decisions like layoffs and to protect as many jobs as possible, but leaders must consider the potential negative effects of delays and take steps to mitigate them, particularly if delays will hurt your ability to support employees with outplacement solutions.
  2. Plan your employee notification carefully. Isolated employees have fewer avenues of personal and professional support available. The decision to lay off or furlough an employee won’t be taking place face-to-face, and an online conversation or, worse, email or hard-copy notice may be perceived as lacking empathy. If you are holding online conversations with exiting employees, be sure to practice them and allow employees adequate time to vent their emotions and ask questions.
  3. Offer choice, if possible. Voluntary layoffs give employees a sense of control in turbulent times, so offer this opportunity if it’s possible. If voluntary layoffs aren’t sufficient or aren’t possible, then give exiting employees a choice of supplemental benefits, such as counseling or additional training, in addition to standard career transition and other outplacement services.
  4. Provide comprehensive career transition support. Many organizations offer outplacement solutions that consist only of helping exiting employees draft resumes, prepare for interviews, and find job opportunities: these are table stakes offerings for all but hourly workers, who have low expectations of outplacement support. Consider the implications of offering such limited outplacement services to your remaining employees: it will provide them little comfort and reassurance. But if you offer more comprehensive outplacement solutions and executive outplacement support, such as assessments or skill development opportunities, your organization and its employees—current and former—will reap practical and emotional benefits. Employees who undergo trait-based assessments may discover strengths that may help them identify jobs where they are a strong fit and restore their confidence in their abilities and aptitudes. Providing guided skills development, instead of an intimidating, self-service library, will upskill exiting employees so they’re more likely to succeed in their next role and feel more confident in their job interviews.
  5. Extend your relationship with displaced employees. Even if your outplacement services come to an end, don’t let that be the end of your relationship with your exiting employees. The longer people are out of work, the more support they need. Similarly, ending your engagement with displaced employees the moment they land a new job fails to recognize that it may not be a good fit; the second job they take, whether through promotion or moving to a new role, department, or organization, is likely more critical than their first job, because it is an opportunity to recover from setbacks caused by the layoff. Outplacement solutions with little to no financial costs include creating a long-term development plan and connecting them to networks of displaced employees from other organizations, who can notify them of future opportunities elsewhere and provide emotional support based on their common experience.

Why outplacement services are important to exiting employees

Losing a job in the middle of the coronavirus crisis compounds an already difficult situation. While a benefit like severance pay may ease the loss of a job temporarily, it does not address the longer-term effects that many people suffer when they lose their job.

Outplacement solutions help employees through the transition away from an organization, improving their chances of landing another job by developing their skills and improving their self-confidence and understanding of their personal strengths. An investment in outplacement services from a national outplacement firm signals to employees that the organization cares about them and their future, so exiting employees are less likely to disparage their former employer or take other actions to harm its reputation.

How executive outplacement support helps company leaders

In a good job market, it can be hard to find an executive position that’s a good fit; during the coronavirus crisis, finding a suitable position is even more challenging. On the flip side, it’s hard for executives to stand out from other highly qualified candidates—especially with the large number of candidates vying for a single position.

Given these challenges, it could take even highly qualified executive candidates longer than six months to a year to land in the right role. For candidates like these, outplacement services, and particularly executive outplacement support, are critical.

Working with a national outplacement firm like Korn Ferry helps executives develop the essential skills coveted by top organizations. We offer guidance from leading search professionals and career coaches to help exiting executives find their next best opportunity. We also help executives and other leaders conduct a targeted career search based on our extensive research library of assessments and compensation data points.

How we help exiting employees find their next opportunity

Our comprehensive outplacement services help displaced employees in a number of ways.

  • Professional development: We offer on-demand skill and professional development to improve the skills of employees who’ve been laid off or furloughed.
  • Assessments: Exiting employees undergo thorough assessments that identify their strengths and benchmark them against millions of other candidates.
  • Coaching: Our career coaches study the results of individuals’ assessments and use their extensive search experience to suggest how exiting employees can best position themselves to land their next opportunity. We also point them to the best opportunities that match their skills and strengths and guide them through compensation negotiations.

To learn more about how Korn Ferry’s outplacement services help exiting employees land in new jobs faster, contact us.