Yes – this does matter!


I am the CEO of a company and I am also a salesperson, responsible for ensuring we win as much business as possible.  So I do appreciate both sides of the coin: receiving numerous approaches from enthusiastic vendors, all keen for my time and budget and meanwhile being that self-same person trying to get a prospective customer to focus on our offering.  I am quite certain that in my haste I have rejected offers that it would have made more sense to accept.  But this is just one of those things in a busy business life.

I was pondering this as I discussed some of the challenges our business development team face.  We are convinced that:

  • MyWorkSearch through taking an innovative approach solves a fundamental problem that affects the entire outplacement industry.  The level of assistance that can be provided by a conventional outplacement provider is directly related to the budget, as the main cost is a consultant’s time.  The lower the budget the more the service is rationed and at some point the offer becomes of very limited value.  Delivering through technology breaks this link as we do not have a delivery cost.  Our service is 24/7 ‘all you can eat’ with the user taking as much assistance as s/he wants.  On the basis that we have got our solution right – and the evidence suggests we have – we have created something truly special that transforms what is possible in our sector.
  • Whilst every employer I have met has stated that they would like to provide career transition help to former staff, many have said that they simply don’t have the money to do this.  MyWorkSearch, using technology, has dramatically reduced the cost of outplacement assistance and I quite simply do not believe that any solvent employer can now use lack of funds as a reason to refuse provision.

Executives who do not spend their employers’ money wisely are doing a disservice to the organisations that pay their wages.  But unless the sums are very large the consequences are normally trivial.  However those responsible for outplacement decisions fall into a different category.  Not to put too fine a point on it, their employer is firing people who will need to secure new employment in what is clearly a tough jobs environment.  Since very few people are sufficiently wealthy to be able to fund their lifestyle for long without a salary the consequences of redundancy can be severe indeed.  I therefore find it very hard to accept the cavalier attitude to outplacement that my colleagues and I observe all too frequently.

I don’t believe that HR executives who fail to put time and effort into their choice are callous.  Nor do they fall into the category of the careless pathologist whose inattention results in a cancer being missed or the inefficient MOD administrator whose error results in a soldier being without essential equipment.  However their casual approach to this responsibility has consequences far further reaching than I believe they realise.

I remember seeing a cartoon of a man with a machine-gun standing outside a tent next to a medieval army whilst inside the king points out to his servant that he has a battle to fight and no time to see some salesman.  So how should we handle the employer who refuses to look at what we offer, citing either an existing supplier relationship or lack of time or the inability to countenance outplacement due to absence of budget?  If anyone who reads this has some ideas please do get in touch.  And I promise to make time to listen!

4 comments on “Yes – this does matter!

  1. Maybe the answer is to pitch CEOs and CFOs and not HR?

    • Mitch – you may be right. Of course CEOs and CFOs typically avoid getting involved, assuming that HR has it covered. We can, of course, invest in more sales activity or increased marketing. However this increases our costs and thus what should be a highly affordable solution is needlessly made more expensive.

  2. What’s the benefit to the HR dept – or to the CFO they often report to? Or what’s the pain if they don’t provide? Your question seems to be based on an assumption of responsibility – while that’s true, it doesn’t speak to the HR’s self-interest (better relations with those left, better reputation as an employer -> lower recruitment costs after the crisis, ex-employees finding work with competitors less hacked-off, etc). I’m sure you’ll have this covered, just that your question doesn’t speak to it.

  3. Thanks Andrew. All good points. An HR professional properly engaged with the enterprise would care about the broader consequences of an inadequate outplacement programme and be open to change and improvement. But what about the ones for whom the hassle of making changes or arguing a case represents more pain than the the absence of improvements these endeavours would bring about? Not because the consequences would not flow, but simply a lack of foresight or analysis.

    We have prepared a white paper on the tangible consequences of poorly handled redundancy programmes. I do think that those who are interested in this are not the people I was complaining about in my blog.

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