outgoing employees influence your employer brand too

June 21, 2016 Jim Stroud

Employer branding is often regarded as an exercise for attracting candidates, but that’s only part of a much bigger picture. In fact, the perception of your employer brand is truly in the hands of all workers. This not only includes your current workforce; it even applies to people who are leaving your organization. That’s why, to be truly effective, an employer brand strategy should address the entire candidate and employee lifecycle.

Organizations must take this into consideration when developing their employee value proposition (EVP). Aligning your EVP to the entire spectrum of current and future workers will lead to greater engagement, resulting in better business outcomes. By reinforcing each employee’s decision to choose you as an employer, you strengthen the relationship and improve retention, which has become nearly as important as acquiring great talent.

But what happens when your organization reduces its workforce? Can you influence the perception of outgoing talent? Can a former employer overcome what is often a negative view in the eyes of the outgoing employee? As it turns out, companies can, and are, doing just that. According to surveys conducted by RiseSmart, a Randstad company providing outplacement services in the U.S., workers who received career transition services became re-employed more quickly, and were also more positive about their former employers.

outplacement: a boost for the employer brand

In a survey of more than 1,400 participants in the RiseSmart outplacement program, more than 27% said they would recommend their former employers to others; only 14% said they would definitely not recommend the employer. The majority of respondents were uncertain, but the data shows that offering outplacement services has a positive impact on the employer brand.

In a second survey of more than 7,400 workers who had been laid off in the U.S. and Canada, the firm found that employer brand matters; 73% said they would not accept a job with a company that had a bad reputation. So even having lost their employment, respondents were clear about their career choices and how they would influence the perception of those around them.

While there are clear benefits to a holistic employer brand strategy, many organizations still struggle with the idea. One reason is they continue to focus only on talent acquisition rather than retention and outplacement. Many talent leaders mistakenly believe it’s only important to promote the brand to candidates, that current workers already have a firm understanding of their organization’s EVP, and that laid-off employees will always have a negative perception of their former employer. However, there is a demonstrated business case for both bolstering retention and offering outplacement.

Analyst Josh Bersin estimates that the cost to replace a lost worker could be up to two times the position’s annual salary. But beyond the replacement cost, it may take months before a new hire reaches full productivity. In the meantime, the employer could suffer additional opportunity costs and possible erosion of relationships with customers. By all accounts, losing a valued employee can be costly.

parting on good terms

When downsizing, organizations should always try to provide as much support as possible. Beyond monetary offerings such as severances, professional and emotional help can support workers in transition. According to RiseSmart’s survey, 90% of employees who were offered outplacement services opted to use it. Of those who did, 72% landed a new job compared with 28% who didn’t.

Outplacement services are beneficial for both employer and employee. Workers find employment more quickly, and they also get emotional support knowing they have access to dedicated resources. For organizations, this assurance creates goodwill with offboarded talent who may turn into boomerang employees in the future. At the very least, they depart with a more positive perception of the employer — and as a result receive a significant boost in the value of the company’s employer brand.

As talent scarcity grows and companies struggle with fulfilling their resourcing needs, employer brand will become more critical to a successful talent strategy. To optimize their efforts, talent leaders need to view their efforts in a more holistic way. As they do, they can expect to reap rewards for many years to come. 

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