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Published Articles - Redundancy

An Answer To A Letter About Redundancy

I do not believe that redundancies will end with the end of the recession but that the assistance offered by Outplacement companies has become as accepted a Human Resources provision as, say, the company pension plan; some individuals may even negotiate the provision of this assistance in their contract of employment. Redundancy, according to my Oxford Illustrated Dictionary, says: "...(of employee or his post) liable to be dispensed with because no longer necessary." Surely we must recognise that the employment market post the global recession will never revert to that of the '70s and '80s, and we should welcome the opportunities that are now open to us all.

Corporations that are not constantly looking at how best their organisational structure can give them that competitive advantage will be the 'also rans', not maximising the skills and talents of their staff to meet the challenges of the market. Some posts, and some employees, will be necessary one month, but not next year, but maybe the year after; employers must not be frightened to adopt this policy of constantly challenging the status quo. This new world in which we find ourselves will still need the services of 'Outplacement' companies.

The Outplacement Market in the UK has grown enormously since companies started to shed staff. Companies recognised the need to assist their redundant staff market themselves in a shrinking labour market and turned to the Outplacement providers for that assistance; it was seen to be the mark of a caring employer to provide such assistance.

We have all read in this column, and know from personal experience, that the standard of assistance provided varies widely, despite a last minute attempt by the then Institute of Personnel Management to establish and police a Code of Practice. However, some companies have developed a reputation for providing effective tailored packages that have three key parts; Part One is the thorough examination of skills, strengths and weaknesses, past experiences etc concluding with the determination of Career and Lifestyle Goals and a strategy for achieving them - a sort of 'personal contract'; Part Two is the tools and techniques needed to market oneself effectively; and Part Three is the implementation of the marketing plan.

For my part, the term 'Outplacement' has so many negative aspects that I prefer the term 'Career Transition'. This allows one to encourage the client to think in a broader sense about where his life is going, for after all this is a transitional phase in their working life; they can then gain some control over who they work for, always seeking to achieve fun and satisfaction from their employment. The 'Personal Contract' is an important objective and gives shape and a time frame to their goals.

I agree with Brian that Career Transition Counsellors should develop their role. Not only should they be able to "pick up the pieces" when staff leave an organisation, they should be able to offer advice to those whose employers know that the structure of the organisation is going to change, that a particular project is ending, or that their particular skills are no longer necessary. Additionally, counsellors have the opportunity to develop the relationship with the individual so that, when a transitional period is identified, other options can be investigated. Individuals will develop a mentoring relationship with their counsellor that will see them through many transitional periods in their careers.

So, the recession will not lead to an end of the Outplacement market; more importantly there are additional benefits to be gained, by both employers and employees, from establishing a good relationship with a Career Transition counsellor.

Printed in The Times