Meeting the Challenges of Employee Churn

Dan Davenport, president and general manager of career transition leader RiseSmart, recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss how organizations should address the challenges of workplace transformation as they pertain to both the employees who must leave an organization and those who remain. His insights are invaluable.

September 17, 2018 – Like it or not, workforce transformations are often a way of life in business. For company leaders, it is critical to look beyond the moment and keep the long view in mind. When layoffs are a necessity, leaders must pay heed to the employees who remain as well as doing right by those who have been let go.

The question of caring for survivor employees goes beyond corporate responsibility and brand building, according to a recent report by RiseSmart, a global career transition firm based in San Jose, CA. Getting remaining employees back to work and returning to productivity, in fact, has a direct effect on the bottom line, says the report, “What about the Survivors?: Taking Care of Employees Who Remain After a Layoff.” And while many companies do have some initiatives in place to care for their employees before, during, and after a reduction in force, most do too little.

The study says that most survivors don’t return to productivity for at least three months after layoffs. As such, an investment in resiliency training and other programs designed to help employees deal with survivor guilt and anxiety over job security is integral to getting them back on track. It also improves the bottom line, says RiseSmart.

Establishing trust and clear communication with all employees at every phase of their engagement with one’s organization, regardless of title or position, is essential. When companies only focus on members of their management and executive teams, they risk alienating a large portion of their workforce and risk long-term damage to the employer brand, says another RiseSmart study, “Insights on Job Seekers in Transition: What Every Employer Needs to Know.”

Downsizing to Meet Goals

Even in the best economy, organizations use layoffs and downsizing as a means to meet corporate goals, manage redundancies after an acquisition or merger, and to keep up with a shifting economy and marketplace. Sixty-two percent of those surveyed for the report said they had been laid off within the last five years—a time of economic growth. Chances are, those employees are now customers, competitors, or possibly return employees. “How their exit was handled at the time of the reduction in force has already made an impact on your business, whether you realize it or not,” says RiseSmart.

Dan Davenport, president and general manager of RiseSmart, knows this terrain better than most. He co-founded RiseSmart with Sanjay Sathe in 2007. Serving initially as vice president of operations and finance, and later, senior vice president, he built RiseSmart’s world-class service delivery organization and managed all operations in the U.S, Canada and India.

Navigating Through a Career Transition

In this brand new episode of “Talent Talks,” we delve into the latest career transition developments as our host Andrew Mitchell is joined by Dan Davenport, president of RiseSmart. According to Mr. Davenport, given the strong economy outplacement and career transition services might not be top of mind, but nevertheless it should be a part of every HR leaders strategic planning process. “Employees are smart and they see how employers treat employees,” he said in the accompanying podcast. “We are assisting employers navigate through career transition points successfully while helping their employees find jobs quickly.” That – in turn – he said can have a real positive impact on every company. Listen now!

Mr. Davenport also led all finance, accounting, HR and administration activities since the firm’s inception. After the business was acquired by Randstad Holdings in 2015, Mr. Davenport was named executive vice president of global operations, where he led the launch of RiseSmart in Europe and Asia Pacific, and the creation of a global network, RiNGS – establishing delivery capability in over 80 countries.

Related: A Look Inside Today’s Worker-Employer Relationship

Mr. Davenport recently spoke to Hunt Scanlon Media about both reports and the issues they raise, including the value of outplacement services on retention and productivity as well as on recruiting and employer branding. As he explains, every organization’s approach to workforce transformation has a significant impact on its reputation, future hiring plans and brand.


Dan, how do career transition and outplacement services help improve employee retention and productivity?

Although it sounds counter-intuitive to be thinking about layoffs and employee retention at the same time, the reality is that organizations must retain valuable talent in order to ensure future business success. When it comes to employee churn after a layoff, we’ve found two things to be true: First, remaining employees are invested in watching how the company handles layoffs. They’re talking to their colleagues and making decisions about their employer based on those conversations. Second, those who were not impacted by the layoff often have difficulty returning to productivity; employees often go through the stages of grief over the loss of their peers and the changes in their organization as a result of a layoff. In a recent study, HR professionals identified the three top challenges for employees who remain after a layoff: Lack of motivation and confidence; lack of voice, i.e. feeling “afraid” to be proactive or provide suggestions; and anxiety over what will happen next. Other challenges include harboring ill will toward the organization and increased turnover.

“By caring for employees through outplacement services, companies improve employee retention, reduce feelings of grief and anxiety in the workplace, and ensure employees return to productivity faster.”

There certainly seems to be a renewed focus today on the survivor employees – the ones who remain in place after a layoff. Explain why.

Outplacement solutions provide impacted employees with the support they need to find a new job fast, thus assuring remaining employees that the company lives by its stated values. In addition, outplacement solutions provide resiliency training for those employees who remain to help them move on to positive endeavors – instead of worrying about worst-case future scenarios. By caring for employees through outplacement services, companies improve employee retention, reduce feelings of grief and anxiety in the workplace, and ensure employees return to productivity faster.

What Every Employer Needs to Know About Employees in Transition

The people that leave your organization are as important as the ones coming in. And how you handle their transition can dramatically impact your reputation as an employer. Departing employees are your brand ambassadors – and they can affect every stage of your company’s talent lifecycle, from retention and productivity to recruiting and everything in between.But not every organization gets employee transition right.

Some neglect it entirely, while most – more than 60% according to the latest figures from contemporary career transition services specialist RiseSmart – fail to offer any transitioning services to professional, manager and entry-level employees. Why not turn that figure upside down and set up departing employees for success. Discover the tools your organization must provide to employees after a layoff. As people leave, there are just as many things to do as the day you welcomed them in. Here are some fresh ways to get started in a brand new report just released by RiseSmart. Get it Now!

How does outplacement help with recruiting?

Reputation and perception are everything. Company culture is transparent to anyone with access to the internet and people tend to trust what current and past employees say about an organization more than what the organization says about itself. How a company treats employees today will have far reaching consequences for recruiting and retaining employees in the future.

It’s all about reputation and employer branding now, isn’t it?

In a recent RiseSmart survey, 81 percent of our nearly 1,500 respondents said that company reputation was extremely or very important and 18 percent said it was at least moderately or slightly important, leaving only one percent to state that it was not important at all. Company reputation is built from everyday decisions and the actions a company chooses to take as a result of those decisions. When a workforce transformation is unavoidable, how a company treats its employees will either reflect well on the organization, or not. In the same survey, we found a significant increase (25 percent) in positive alumni sentiment among individuals who had been offered outplacement and 92 percent of those who were offered outplacement found it beneficial to landing a new job. We also found that companies make the mistake of not offering outplacement to non-executive employees, yet the people most active on employer review sites are not at the executive level. Offering outplacement to every employee is the best way to protect and maintain a positive employer brand and improve recruitment efforts in the future.

Related: As Job Market Favors Candidates, Companies Must Adjust

Boomeranging workers are a growing phenomenon. Do career transition firms like yours have any relevancy for companies hoping to attract former employees?

Yes, absolutely. Our current talent shortage and the desire for employees to return to an organization where they feel valued and connected have prompted the loosening of HR policies around hiring past employees. Recently, companies have begun to realize that former employers not only come back to the organization with institutional knowledge, but possibly competitor insights and enhanced skills and experiences from their time away. As a result, boomeranging has become much more prevalent. In our survey of employees, we found that 73 percent of those laid off with outplacement services would consider returning to a former employer, while 37 percent of those laid off without outplacement services would not. In today’s war for talent, an investment in outplacement may be critical to an organization’s ability to attract valuable former employees.

Is there a direct correlation between outplacement and a company’s employer brand?

While we found offering outplacement services to be critical in ensuring that impacted and remaining employees have a positive sentiment toward the organization, we did find a discrepancy between the sentiment of impacted employees based on the outplacement provider. While things like severance packages and outplacement may seem like “check the box” sort of items, offering outdated services that don’t meet the needs of today’s workforce doesn’t protect employers from negative brand impact. Today’s workers are savvy – they know what they want and what they need. It’s important to provide contemporary solutions that include the latest best practices, specialized expertise in coaching, resume writing, and job search strategies along with up-to-date resources and automated access to the tools needed to land a new job faster. Organizations hoping to protect the employer brand image, save money, and provide value must ensure that the outplacement vendor they choose is able to demonstrate proven results with quantifiable data.

Related: How to Attract and Keep Talent from Jumping Ship

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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