As if a retrenchment is not already painful for employees, many companies make matters worse by executing the process poorly.

If it is not executed humanely, professionally and tactfully, an outplacement exercise can impact the morale of both retrenched and retained employees, as well as the company’s ability to hire talent at a later stage.

Here are 7 mistakes companies should be aware of during an outplacement exercise.

  1. Lack of Proper Pre-Planning

As the saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail”.

Most companies place too much emphasis on what to tell their employees when a layoff is needed, but fail to plan other points.

  • How should the notice be delivered?
  • Who should deliver the message?
  • What do we say to our customers?
  • How will it affect morale if it is delivered at the start of the work day versus at the end?
  • Which day of the week to announce the news?
  • What do we do if the media calls during the exercise?
  • What if an employee goes on medical leave during the day of announcement?
  • What kind of support can the company offer to employees?
  • Are there any employees that should be given “extra attention?”

The list goes on…..

  1. Inadequately Trained Notifiers

There’s an art to delivering any kind of news, much less news about a redundancy.

When the notifier is not sufficiently trained in communicating the retrenchment news, it can adversely affect morale of all employees, whether they are being laid off or not.

Some things that notifiers should be trained in include staying consistent to the company’s key message, how to deal with various reactions from the affected employees, and what are the discussions to engage in during the announcement.

  1. “All Will Be Fine” Complacency

One of the biggest assumptions is that employees know what to do in a redundancy, and that everything will work out because of that.

In most cases, the employee is not expecting to be laid off, much less know what to do. Most will be in shock and may not have the mental clarity to ask questions about the outplacement process or plan for the transition out of the company. So, nothing is fine.

Leaving retrenched employees to figure out their next steps on their own is a huge reputational disaster waiting to happen for the company .

  1. Lack of Support from Senior Leadership

When senior leadership leave the company’s HR department to handle the entire outplacement exercise from planning to post-exercise, they display a lack of support for affected employees. 

Some of the areas often overlooked by senior management include not being present to field queries throughout the retrenchment process, failing to provide fair severance benefits if the company can afford to, and providing outplacement and career transition services for employees affected by the redundancy.

  1. Communication Breakdown

Communication is defined as the exchange of information between two parties or more.

Companies often make the mistake of only giving out information but not receiving it when a redundancy is required. This creates emotional and mental stress for employees, and will affect overall staff morale.

Employees and stakeholders should be able to provide feedback to HR department and management at all stages of the outplacement process.

  1. Lack of Career Transition Support

Companies view redundancies as a relevant way to protect their bottom line now. However, they fail to realise that a lack of career transition support for exiting employees can affect the company’s reputation.

Employees should be able to see sincerity and responsibility from the company during an outplacement exercise.

An objective that companies should strive to achieve during a retrenchment is for the employee to feel, “I know this is difficult for the company too, and they made this decision as the last resort.”

So that the employees feel supported as they transition to their next opportunity.

  1. Mistaking the Battle for the War

Possibly the biggest mistake is to regard the outplacement exercise as the war. In reality, the outplacement exercise is the battle while a larger war, in the form of post-outplacement exercise, looms ahead.

Identifying the war even before entering the battle will help the company avoid costly mistakes such as reputation management, retaining key talent, maintaining morale & productivity, and rebuilding and renewing their business at a later stage.

Avoid These Costly Mistakes

Want to avoid these costly mistakes? Work with outplacement experts, who will provide outplacement programs to transition your employees smoothly out of your organisation.

To find out how Calent3 can partner your organisation to professionally manage an outplacement exercise, email us at for a non-obligatory discussion.

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