Editor’s note: This is the second blog post in a two-part series highlighting key findings from Randstad RiseSmart’s ‘2021 Guide to Severance & Workforce Transition’ benchmark survey. Read part one here and download the comprehensive report here.
While many organizations had to make the difficult decision to restructure their workforce during the height of the pandemic, the employment market has seen a marked shift and some employers are struggling to fill open roles with qualified talent. With the US employment market registering June as the best month for job creation since August 2020, according to the Randstad RiseSmart Labor Market Barometer, employers now find themselves moving from a global health crisis to a workforce crisis: struggling to fill open roles with qualified talent while simultaneously challenged to retain talent as employees seek greener pasture and new opportunities.
According to new data from Monster, 95% of US workers are considering quitting their current job, citing burnout as the top reason for wanting to do so. Given this trend, dubbed the ‘Great Resignation,’ organizations need to rethink their employee engagement and retention strategies to keep top talent on board and acquisition costs at bay. Data from Josh Bersin found that organizations spend up to six times as much to hire externally rather than build talent from within – and these costs might be even higher now, given the tight labor market.
To learn more about how organizations approach employee engagement and retention – as well as separation – we surveyed almost 2,000 HR leaders from eight countries and a wide range of industries. The biennial ‘Guide to Severance & Workforce Transition,’ considered a bellwether report by HR professionals, provides a global snapshot of the shifting trends and attitudes toward severance, separation, outplacement, retention and redeployment – and the impact on employer brand.
Among the key findings, the survey found that HR leaders are putting in extra effort to preserve jobs and drive engagement among remaining employees through redeployment programs as well as with retention incentives when a workforce reduction is imminent.
more organizations offer redeployment programs
In addition to expanding severance and outplacement benefits following workforce restructuring, as highlighted in the first blog post in this series, employers are increasingly tapping into redeployment to retain valuable employees and avoid layoffs altogether. According to our survey, nearly 80% of HR leaders said they have formal redeployment programs in place to help workers find new roles internally, a 28% increase compared to 2019. Additionally, 56% of respondents noted that they’ve used redeployment to rapidly address changing business needs in the past two years, while 44% used redeployment to help employees expressing a desire to move internally find new roles.
While more organizations are embracing redeployment, they also see room for improvement, with 35% indicating that partnering with an outside expert would help improve their redeployment program. This aligns with the another finding in the global survey – the majority (59%) of HR leaders said outplacement is managed by external partners or a hybrid of both service providers and internal stakeholders. Organizations increasingly see the value of enlisting the support of outplacement and career transition partners to more effectively manage workforce shifts and protect their employer brands.
In addition to partnering with an outside expert, when asked, ‘What would help you improve your redeployment programs?’ top responses included:
- effectively matching employees to open opportunities (50%)
- providing career coaching (40%)
- providing resume/CV support (36%)
The survey also found that 88% of organizations encourage team members to apply for other opportunities internally. These programs are clearly working, as 97% of respondents with these programs in place indicate that they are at least somewhat effective.
Making the move to a new internal role requires the same coaching guidance, career expertise and personal branding resources as looking for a job externally – which is where an outside career transition expert can come into play. Top employers understand the importance of offering their employees robust resources to broaden their skills and grow their careers internally. Not only can doing so help drive retention and engagement, but it can also improve an organization’s employer brand and promote workforce agility by ensuring employees’ skills evolve based on business needs.
most organizations offer retention incentives
While organizations take many steps to preserve jobs, including implementing redeployment programs, in some cases, workforce reductions are inevitable. And when an organization announces a reduction in force, it can quickly lead to a decline in morale, engagement and productivity among remaining employees. Rather than focusing on business goals, these employees are often more concerned about their job security and might even begin looking for roles outside the organization.
To avoid losing employees whose roles aren’t impacted by workforce reduction, most organizations (86%) offer retention incentives – which shows that employers are taking turnover risks seriously and want to show remaining employees that they’re valued. While this survey was conducted just before the onset of the ‘Great Resignation,’ a proactive approach to employee retention is now even more important than ever. Of the employers that offer retention incentives, the top benefits include:
- more flexible work arrangements (52%)
- payment of upcoming bonuses that employees would have been eligible for after termination (43%)
- retention bonuses (39%)
- additional paid time off (31%)
Not all employees will necessarily accept retention incentives and the unfortunate reality is that some might still choose to leave the company after these incentives are offered. However, when employees choose to transition to another role outside the company – or consider leaving a review on a site such as Glassdoor – the organization will be seen in a more positive light, which can help preserve a company’s employer brand.
now is the time to make employer brand a priority
According to data from Glassdoor, 86% of women and 67% of men in the US wouldn’t join a company with a negative reputation, meaning maintaining a positive reputation and employer brand is critical to attracting top talent. Despite organizations understanding the importance of building a strong employer brand, only 67% of employers have programs in place to protect their employer brands – a number that’s essentially unchanged since our 2019 severance and workforce transition survey, when 68% of employers said the same. Additionally, only 63% of all employers monitor review sites like Glassdoor and Indeed following a layoff, which is only a slight uptick over the 58% of employers who said the same in 2019.
Organizations that don’t have a proactive strategy in place to protect their employer brand risk turning away top talent – and even potential business – in the long run. By monitoring review sites and social media, and addressing feedback from both current and former employees, organizations can build positive employer brands, which will help attract qualified talent in the long run.
In addition to monitoring these channels, organizations can also protect and improve their employer brands by soliciting feedback from employees. Even so, some organizations fall short in doing so. According to our survey, almost a third (30%) of respondents say they don’t perform exit interviews. And among the respondents who do perform interviews following a layoff, 82% don’t have any vehicle other than exit interviews for monitoring employee sentiment.
Another area in which there’s room for improvement is collecting feedback from outplacement program participants. According to our survey, more than a quarter of respondents (26%) who partner with outplacement providers indicated that their providers don’t survey impacted employees to gauge the effectiveness of their programs. Additionally, fewer than 25% ask questions about the quality of the outplacement program.
In the absence of surveying former employees about their outplacement experience, this leaves both employers and their separated workers without the data and insights needed to optimize outplacement effectiveness. And if the outplacement program is ineffective for employees, organizations face the risk of former employees leaving negative feedback on social media or employer review sites. RiseSmart surveys participants on the effectiveness of key elements of outplacement services throughout the program – including job leads, job search resources, resume services and coaching, among other factors – and provides this data to HR. This transparency helps ensure outplacement programs are as effective as possible for former employees and deliver a return on investment for organizations.
Review sites, social media monitoring, exit interviews and surveying former employees who participate in outplacement are only a few of the many ways to measure employees’ feelings about their employers. Rather than waiting for an employee to leave the company to collect feedback, organizations can improve the experience for current employees – and drive retention and strengthen their employer brands as a result – by proactively collecting and acting upon feedback on a regular basis.
Organizations can collect feedback from current team members and gauge sentiment in a variety of ways, such as through employee surveys, town halls and regular 1:1 career conversations between managers and their direct reports. Soliciting feedback across a variety of channels can provide employers with actionable insights to improve the experience for both current and future employees. When employees notice that their feedback is put into action, they’ll have a more positive view of their employer, be more likely to stay with the organization and might even write a review praising their employment experience.
an employee-first experience drives a positive employer brand
While not all organizations are as proactive as they can be with protecting their employer brands, our survey revealed an 11% drop overall in negative online reviews following a layoff compared with two years ago. While there was a seven percent uptick in negative reviews on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, there was an 18% plunge in negative reviews on employer review sites, from 64% in 2019 to 46% in our latest survey.
Employer brand has many variables but supporting employees at every stage of their journey – including after they leave the organization – by doing the right thing can make a significant difference. Organizations have shown an increased interest in the employee experience through expanded severance, outplacement, redeployment and retention incentives, which has likely contributed, at least in some part, to a decreased likelihood of employees sharing negative opinions online. Taking an employee-first approach to career transitions can improve an organization’s employer brand and ability to retain and attract talent, while also reducing talent acquisition costs.
Findings related to redeployment, retention incentives and employer branding are just a few of the many insights unveiled in the ‘2021 Guide to Severance & Workforce Transition.’ Download the comprehensive report to learn more about the findings highlighted here, as well as:
- how HR leaders approach severance and outplacement – and how key trends have evolved over the past two years
- benefits of partnering with an outside career transition partner
- key nuances in how different countries approach severance and career transition
- industry spotlights covering high-level severance and separation difference across industries