The year 2020 was a year unlike any other. The job market was already in upheaval when the pandemic struck, disrupting the way people worked almost overnight. Outplacement was immediately elevated in importance, playing a major role in helping businesses, workers and economies transition and recalibrate into this new normal.
The sudden change in workplace operations meant many businesses immediately drove new efficiencies through shifts to create more flexible working arrangements, including allowing staff to work remotely. Employees needed to quickly adapt to enabling technologies such as video conferencing software to remain productive and stay connected to teams and clients. For many HR professionals, this also resulted in difficult decisions in order to right-size the workforce. Outplacement is now even more important in helping employees make a successful transition in a fluctuating job market.
Here are three ways outplacement is evolving to help both companies and their workers respond to the disruption of an ever-changing economy:
Employ better data for improved outcomes
Flexible and remote working arrangements mean employees need to be even more prepared for transition. In the last few years, workers who participated in outplacement programs increasingly switched jobs across industries but also between different job roles. Globally, 49% of candidates who went through outplacement programs found a new role in a different industry . This is the highest proportion of people changing industries in the last eight years.
This growing culture of career mobility requires organizations to be equally agile to keep up in real-time. For employers, positive ROI and solid outcomes are increasingly important outplacement metrics. This requires better data to understand where jobs are located and how they can be accessed. Tools such as Total Workforce Index can help organizations build a data-driven approach that integrates market insights into the outplacement process.
Kaye Owen, a senior deployment manager at Lloyds Banking Group in the UK, says that the rapidly changing market has required their team to significantly alter their approach. “We’ve found over the last four or five years that it’s a lot more strategic now, and there’s a real acknowledgement of the importance of trying to identify the skills of the future.” Data – and the ability to sift and accurately analyze it – is an important part of that evolution and these demands will only continue to grow.
Tune up your emotional intelligence
Human resources leaders were already focused on the well-being of their workforce prior to the pandemic. But displacement caused by the pandemic escalated the intensity as workers faced career transitions and remote workers became increasingly isolated.
When COVID-19 hit, Swiggy, India’s largest online food ordering and delivery platform, felt the impact with layoffs of about 1,100 employees. Like many other organizations across the globe facing similar difficult situations, Swiggy’s HR department provided support to employees to help them find other positions. But they also took the additional step of training their HR team on “emotional intelligence,” including how to have meaningful conversations, build confidence and prepare candidates for interviews, according to Girish Menon, Swiggy’s VP of human resources.  “Employees need the ability to bounce back, and our team is trained to support them.”
More organizations realize how important it is to ensure employees depart with a positive view of the company. Providing one-on-one coaching gives them an opportunity to have honest conversations about the things that concern them and learn how they can take the next step on their career path.
By 2025, automation and a new division of labor between humans and machines will disrupt 85 million jobs globally in medium and large businesses across 15 industries and 26 economies. 
Workers riding this wave of massive change face a new urgency in this reskilling revolution. Employees, from orientation through exit strategy, need help to identify opportunities and align their transferable skills. They also need to be agile and adaptable in planning their next career move. The most innovative companies recognize this and are adopting workforce career management solutions for scalable career development. For example, American Express launched a career counseling center and Unilever introduced a program that matches individuals to projects of interest to expose them to different areas and build new skills. 
These types of initiatives will be especially necessary as employees are no longer limited by location; outplacement support must become truly global and prepare individuals to access opportunities worldwide. Many businesses will ask employees to return to physical offices, and some will be glad to go back. However, employee expectations have changed, with only 12% of people wanting to return to full-time office work and 72% preferring a hybrid remote-office model moving forward. 
Outplacement support that combines smart data, emotional intelligence and development opportunities for in-demand skills, will play a vital role in helping individuals and businesses navigate these changes. This will create a confident, agile and valuable workforce that is able to confidently face future challenges – anytime, anywhere.
To learn more, download our latest whitepaper, “Careers in Transition: How will outplacement evolve to help companies and workers respond to upheaval?”