Biennial survey of HR leaders also shows increased adoption of outplacement and redeployment programs
A global report released by leading outplacement and career mobility provider Randstad RiseSmart found that companies are prioritizing the employee experience by expanding their severance plans. According to RiseSmart’s “2021 Guide to Severance & Workforce Transition,” considered a benchmark report by HR professionals, 64 percent of employers offer severance to all employees, compared to just 44 percent in 2019.
The biennial survey of 2,000 HR professionals from eight countries and a wide range of industries provides a global snapshot of the shifting trends and attitudes toward severance, separation, outplacement, retention and redeployment – and the impact on employer brand.
The survey also found that more than a quarter (27 percent) of respondents have updated their severance policies in the past two years. Among organizations that made changes to their severance plans, coverage in seven out of 10 categories – including outplacement, education and financial planning, among others – either held steady or expanded more than it contracted. The top reasons for enhancing severance benefits, according to survey respondents, are to improve the employee experience and compete for talent. Employers also indicated that they plan to make changes to severance plans in the near future with 50 percent or more adjusting health benefits continuance, eligibility and retirement.
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When it comes to outplacement specifically, 63 percent of organizations surveyed began offering outplacement in the past two years, with six in 10 of these respondents indicating that the COVID-19 pandemic impacted their decision to do so. The top reasons organizations offer outplacement benefits all tie back to prioritizing the employee experience, including:
- Maintain morale and productivity among remaining employees (77 percent)
- Value employee contributions and an employee-first culture (72 percent)
- Maintain positive employer brand (69 percent)
“More organizations are recognizing that separation is an important part of the employee experience,” said Dan Davenport, CEO at Randstad RiseSmart. “Offering impacted employees the support needed to get back on their feet – such as severance and outplacement benefits – is the right thing to do from a corporate responsibility standpoint, and it can also have a positive impact on an organization’s employer brand. By supporting employees during such a difficult transition, organizations can turn former team members into brand ambassadors, boost productivity and loyalty among remaining employees and be better positioned to attract top talent.”
In addition to expanding severance and outplacement benefits, employers are increasingly turning to redeployment to retain valuable employees and avoid layoffs altogether. Nearly 80 percent of respondents said they have formal redeployment programs in place to help workers find new roles internally, a 28 percent uptick from 2019, and 56 percent noted that they’ve used redeployment to rapidly address changing business needs in the past two years.
HR leaders with redeployment in place acknowledge that there’s room for improvement, with more than a third (35 percent) indicating that partnering with an outside consultant would help improve their current redeployment program. This finding aligns with a key trend unveiled by the survey: Organizations see the value in partnering with an outside expert for their outplacement and redeployment efforts. To manage outplacement, most organizations (59 percent) rely on outside partners, either completely or in combination with their internal HR teams. This is a notable increase compared with the 34 percent of respondents who used external firms in 2019.
“As the world of work rapidly evolves, employees need to find new ways to ensure their skills remain relevant – whether they’re growing in their current role, moving to a new role internally, or transitioning outside the company,” said Lindsay Witcher, vice president of global practice strategy and solutions at Randstad RiseSmart. “Organizations can more effectively support individuals at every career stage by partnering with an outside expert that specializes in career mobility solutions including career development, redeployment and outplacement. The right partner can ease the administrative workload and complexity that career mobility programs place on internal HR teams and managers, while also helping organizations drive long-term business agility and future-proof their workforces.”