This guide provides a range of strategies for consideration by any employer in Singapore forced to reduce their headcount by helping managers support their employees during what can be a wrenching transition.
Outplacement is the process of assisting employees cease employment usually as result of enforced business change (e.g. redundancy). It involves the employer providing access to a range of support, including information and training, which can make the transition more manageable for all concerned. It can be as broad or narrow as the business can afford – the key resource required is time and someone to oversee the process.
Why do it?
Quite simply it is the right thing to do. It is a responsible action that accords with best practice in terms of good corporate and social responsibility — assuming that your firm can afford the resources to undertake this action.
Other positives leading from a well-run outplacement exercise include the fact that the brand of your company is not tarnished and it may well actually be enhanced. Your firm will be recognised for the efforts it has put in place to support your own loyal but now former staff.
Any company is often dependent of the goodwill of former employees, especially as potentially key personal in new roles in customers, vendors and potential business partners and in terms of industry reputation and ability to hire successfully.
In addition, it is important that remaining employees are encouraged to see that their employer is taking its responsibilities seriously, especially in the last stages of the employment process for former colleagues.
When should you start an outplacement programme?
In order to provide maximum impact, the announcement of an intention to provide a support process should take place as soon as possible following the news of redundancies, or during the process of the individual severance discussion. After the initial shock of a redundancy (whether it has been expected or not), employees will have many questions to be answered, so it is important that management have considered their responses in a structured way, and have allotted time to allocate to deal with these.
What is involved in an outplacement programme?
We recommend exploring 5 key best practice areas in Singapore to determine the specific needs and solutions of the situation:
1. Access to Clear and Understandable Information.
The company should make as much information as possible available to staff as soon as the redundancy announcement is made. With large numbers of staff reductions this information should ideally be prepared ahead of the announcement. For many people, the most important questions early on relate to their financial situation – including redundancy payment, its tax treatment, impact on any pension or CPF entitlement etc. Employers can also make available information on government support, grassroots organisation support and also possible job opportunities in their industries as well as training and retraining opportunities in their areas of work.
2. Availability of Expert Advice.
Employers can examine options such as inviting staff from the MOM to give advice to employees. Similarly, employees may benefit from the advice of an independent certified financial consultant invited to discuss options for CPF, savings and investments, especially to preserve the benefits of severance packages and the most optimal way of processing any outstanding pay or tax issues. The MOM provides advice and services for employees and employers as follows:
The Ministry of Manpower has published a study on how some companies have successfully managed their excess manpower. These companies have benefited, in terms of preserving a favourable corporate image, and improving staff relations and morale.
Retrenched employees who need help looking for jobs can visit the Singapore Workforce Development Agency's (WDA) Career Centres at the Community Development Councils, Employment and Employability Institute and CaliberLink. The latter is a one-stop service centre to provide training advisory and employment assistance services for PMEs. Visit the WDA website for more information on the Career Centres.
3. Access to Resources.
For large scale outplacement, companies can facilitate the setting up of a serviced resource room. This dedicated area can help employees type up CVs, search online for job opportunities and print and photocopy CVs as needed. Employees can be guided to create best practice resumes, cover letters, short-form introductory biographies and best practice LinkedIn profiles and networking strategies. This can all enable employees to properly showcase their skills and qualifications in a clear and visibly transferable way in the wider Asian job market.
One successfully proven approach — subject to resources in the company — is to offer 'one-to-one' meetings with employees who are to be outplaced and HR managers/ senior managers who can coach employees on the practicalities of leaving the company and sensitising them on the various issues that may until now have been covered by the employer, such as health insurance forms, pension etc. This service can help people examine their future career options and what they want to do.
Subject to resources and time, another helpful strategy is to document all the actions for follow up to ensure that these tasks are covered off prior to the employee leaving the company. This can help staff identify what they want to do and can be very valuable, particularly for those staff who may be seeking a change or new challenges. The key point is to track actions and ensure that these are carried out.
A core task that is both cost effective and very helpful for staff is providing mock interviews and/or training staff in their interview techniques. Examine the potential for using the person responsible for recruitment to carry out mock interviews and interview training for staff exiting the company. This is a critical aid especially for long serving employees who may never have previously undertaken an interview. This process can also help staff to focus on how to sell themselves in a new job interview. There may also be scope for helping staff with their presentation skills. Psychometric tests for staff may be undertaken to help them understand and communicate their career preferences, motivations, values and core strengths.
Employees can be encouraged to explore possibilities for formal training accreditations by providing information on local programmes offered by higher education bodies etc. with a view to improving their employability.
Ensure administrative staff are available to help those employees who do not have the required technical or IT skills learn to develop their marketing materials and networking approaches. The company can market the skills and talents of employees being laid off. The firm could host a jobs fair to invite all other possible employers to advertise potential job opportunities. Can you promote staff through your local business contacts such as your affiliated Chamber of Commerce or industry bodies? Can you give staff opportunities to transfer to other locations or even overseas? References can be a critical means of supporting staff in their efforts to secure employment. Some firms have completed and stored on file very detailed reference descriptions available for the employees of the achievements and work undertaken by them so that a permanent long term record exists of their activities in the company. Staff many also find it reassuring that corporate memory of their work is not lost.
Finally, given that former staff may have queries subsequently, we recommend that employers provide a summary of contact points including a contact name, phone number and email address for staff remaining at the plant and for long term contacts in France for the following areas of responsibility:
-HR contact in the company;
-Payroll contact in the company;
-General outplacement support contact in the company;
-Financial advisor support (where applicable).
Guidelines on Conducting Individual Severance Discussions:
Before you start talking or communicating the bad news to another person you need to prepare for it. Without preparation you risk upsetting the other person by your poor execution. If you time it badly, no matter how well you formulate your sentences, you may still fail and upset the other person more than you should. To prepare, consider the following areas.
Where do you want to deliver your message? What is the ideal environment; the office, at home, over coffee, over lunch break, in a meeting room or other places?
You also need to manage interruption. Because of the potential sensitivity of the interaction you should minimise interruptions such as phone calls, announcements, or other people interrupting you.
Would it be more ideal if you have certain individuals present when you deliver the message or instead is it better to deliver it privately? Arrange the meeting accordingly.
When is the best time to deliver the message? Should you wait a bit after the event or do you need to deliver the news before they find out for themselves where you have no control over the way they receive it.
It is usually better to deliver a message when a person is happy and energetic (such as in the morning) and is potentially more tolerant to bad news. The opposite can lead to a serious breakdown, so you need to be aware of the emotional state of the person before you deliver the message.
How do you plan to open the conversation? What is your general strategy? What information should you disclose initially and what information later? Sometimes drip feeding is more effective than delivering the whole message in one go. You should plan for this from the outset.
Rehearse and Prepare
Rehearse and prepare for the event so you know exactly what to say and also how to handle any reactions. Being prepared would significantly help you respond appropriately even if you haven't thought of a specific reaction you may receive. Presence of mind will help you to handle many unanticipated situations.
Typical Support Programmes Provided by NoLimits
Linked to the various recommendations of best practice, NoLimits can provide a tiered level of options to help the company achieve its desired level of best practice.
Level 1 Support: Training and Development
NoLimits offers training and development services to outplaced employees to:
• develop a clear action plan for the future
• provide advice on career assessment
• update best practice CVs, BIOs and LinkedIn profiles
• develop skills in effective self-marketing, networking and job search strategies
• develop skills in successful interview techniques
Provided as two one day workshops for around 12-20 participants these programmes leverage our own experience in recruiting candidates for companies, best practice career coaching expertise and our current focus on implementing best practices in hiring skills for many companies in Asia.
Day 1 Focusses on establishing the individuals future career plan, identifying key strengths, motivators and values and creating best practice BIOs, CVs and LinkedIn profiles. As well as revealing the new best approaches to job search and networking that will enable employees to maximise their chance of success early on in their search.
Day 2 enables the employees to learn and practice interview skills so that they are ready and able to share their achievements in the best way, discuss their work motivators and values to align with a potential new employer. We also provide practical skills to handle complex and challenging interview questions. Participants will practice live interview sessions with group and video feedback to ensure they maximise the value of every future interview opportunity.
We recommend approximately a two week gap between day 1 and day 2 to allow the employees time implement their day 1 action planning and bring questions and problems for resolution at the start of day 2.
This two day programme is available in Singapore for 12-20 participants at a time for $$9000+GST conducted onsite or S$11,000+GST when conducted offsite. Day 1 also includes an individual DISC based career strengths inventory profile taken online and reviewed in the workshop at S$110+GST per person.
Level 2 Support: Employment search surgeries.
To provide employees support in their search NoLimits conducts regular group coaching sessions. These are typically for employees who have completed the Level 1 support programme and need more active support in the deployment of their job search, networking and conduct at interviews.
Typical programmes are conducted as four 3-hour group coaching sessions, usually around one group session per month for up to 10 employees at a time. Normally conducted offsite these are opportunities for employees to share experiences and learnings and receive feedback, coaching and support with implementing their new employment plan. The facilitator will also provide advice and guidance on current opportunities in the market and with helping make actual individual connections and introductions through our extensive cross industry Asia-wide corporate network.
The package of 4 x 3-hour sessions for 10 employees with 1 facilitator is S$12,000+GST including all materials and venue.
Level 3 Support: Individual Job Search Coaching
Typically for senior level employees, NoLimits will assign an individual career coach on a one on one basis to deliver the content of the level 1 programme in a carefully personalised context and to provide on-going support over an extended period. Uniquely there is no artificial time limit to the support, the participants may continue to access their coaching hours over as long a time period as required.
The support includes:
- Change management and personal support
- A career options analysis
- Comprehensive psychological assessments
- Developing the Self Marketing Plan
- Creating best practice CV, BIO and LinkedIn profile.
- Self-marketing skills development
- Personal and financial planning
- Interview techniques and video interview practice and feedback
- Comprehensive job search support, facilitated introductions, networking planning and implementation
Nolimits offers this support as 20 hours of individual coaching at S$15,000+GST including all assessments, materials and documentation. Coaching takes place at our offices in Battery Road.
The company can also opt to provide participants with access to a personal office space in the CBD for meetings or for the purposes of working on their job search. If taking this option, meeting and office space facilities are charged at the rate of S$60+GST per hour on an actual usage basis. We can advise on setting limits for employee use and duration as required.
Call or email for a complimentary consultation on your needs and we look forward to review the best practice options with you.
Email: email@example.com Call: +65 6232 2466