Giving redundant workers a hand is good for company image, says Philip Wood, managing director of HR Logic.

Outplacement may be perceived as a luxury for larger businesses but for fast-growing SMEs that have unavoidable peaks and troughs, outplacement can be an essential brand protection tool. It can keep your existing staff happier and more settled and help affected staff find new opportunities.

How can outplacement help when a business needs to make employees redundant?

Developing and implementing an effective outplacement strategy will help to protect an organisation's brand by positioning it as having a caring and responsible attitude towards its people.

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Supporting employees who are undergoing redundancy helps to make their transition out of their jobs easier and less painful. It is also a powerful tool for minimising the fallout among the employees who remain.

Outplacement will assist affected employees to get back into the workforce quickly, which minimises any emotional pain or other consequent issues, such as financial stress. It also helps them to remain positive about their future career prospects, thus enhancing their employability.

Effective outplacement helps to maintain productivity levels while the remaining employees are going through change and uncertainty. This improves employee engagement and morale, thus reducing the risk that existing staff will choose to leave the company as a direct result of the restructuring.

Are there any other reasons to provide affected staff with outplacement support?

A properly planned and supported outplacement programme combined with an effective retention strategy can maintain and even increase staff morale. Remaining employees who have been supported by an effective outplacement programme will typically acknowledge that the redundancies must have been a hard decision for the company to make but at least they took care of everyone - those going and those staying.

This approach supports retention strategies as well as positioning the organisation as an employer of choice. Importantly, it also conveys to customers and external stakeholders a powerful message about your organisation's integrity.

How will I need to be involved once the decision to use an outplacement company has been made?

You won't. Once a strategy has been developed and appropriate processes agreed, the outplacement provider will take control of running the support programme. Employees are allocated a professional career consultant.