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Outplacement or Career Transition?

Supporting Organisational Change with ‘Outplacement’

You might be working for an organisation that is looking at laying off staff due to the need to cut costs or because you want to become more efficient. If so, what are your thoughts about how you might support the staff who will be leaving as a result of such organisational change? For many people in HR and Operational management roles, aside of ensuring that correct policy and procedures are adopted, to comply with appropriate employment law, the word ‘outplacement’ is likely to spring to mind, when considering both the process for laying off staff and also the support required.

What’s in a name?

I have never liked the term ‘outplacement’. However, here’s the thing…as a company that provides such support, in order to be found on web searches and for marketing of our services, we are arguably obligated to still use this term, if we are to be found by organisations and especially HR managers looking to source providers. SMP Solutions takes great pride in our reputation and caring approach, so we sought the views of a number of our clients and key contacts and took the decision to change of our focus, preferring the term ‘Career Transition‘ instead. Not an easy decision, in view of the comments above. However, as a people focused company we felt this was a positive move.

Why? Because ‘outplacement‘ very definitely has negative overtones i.e. someone is being ‘outplaced’ of their organisation or the organisation is ‘outplacing’ a number of employees. In essence people are having something ‘being done to them’. ‘Career Transition’ by comparison suggests a journey or movement. Yes, it is a time of change but from something to something else, rather than one way enforcement ‘out’. ‘Transition‘, can also certainly be viewed as a positive experience and many people associate this with ‘transformation‘.

You may feel this is all semantics, as whichever way you look at it, the organisation will be laying off employees, so what difference does it make what you call the process or support involved.

But what if it really does make a difference?

Just think about the difference it could make to both the employees affected and the organisational psyche by starting such a difficult organisational change process in a more positive vein? I will be sharing more thoughts about this in future blogs.

Definitions of Outplacement

Knowing that ‘outplacement’ is a term mainly used in HR, operational circles and by people who have been on the receiving end of it, I decided to check out definitions via a Google search. They were easy to find and here is a sample. You can make up your own mind about what message you feel they send out:

  • “Counseling and assistance in finding a new job, provided by a company for an employee who has been or is about to be dismissed
  • “The process of assisting a terminated employee find a new job”
  • “The process of finding new jobs for people in your company who have been forced to leave because their job no longer exists”
  • “A service that offers counselling and careers advice, especially to redundant executives, which is paid for by their previous employer”
  • “Outplacement is the efforts made by a downsizing company to help former employees transition to new jobs and help them re-orient themselves in the job market”

Can you imagine an employee who wants to know more about outplacement and does a similar search as I did? The words above in italics, are some that will clearly rankle with an already distressed employee and could ‘add fuel to the fire’! Whilst some of the text in each comment has merits, the definitions are generally demeaning and inappropriate. Comments about being ‘dismissed’, also ‘former’ or ‘previous’ employer are written in the past context, so are inflammatory and inaccurate.

So, by focusing on offering ‘outplacement support’, although an employer may have the best of intentions, the result could be that the very people who it is aimed at and who will benefit from the support, could turn their back on the opportunity. Unfortunately, the reality is it that the only loser in such acts of defiance are the employees who choose not to  take up the support.

The benefits of a well planned and delivered ‘career transition‘ programme

Managed well, focused ‘career transition‘ support will provide your departing employees with the tools they need to have the best possible chance to find the right next job for them.

For an employer laying off staff, providing a well planned and delivered programme of ‘career transition‘ support, will do much more than help overcome the immediate needs of your departing employees, to find another job. Such an approach can also become be an invaluable source inspiration for those affected to re-evaluate their careers, open up a whole new world of opportunity and possibilities, so they can look forward to the future with confidence.

While cost is a key consideration for most organisations, a ‘one size fits all’ approach, although better than nothing, is unlikely to produce the best results for the affected employees.  Showing a caring attitude and having a programme of career transition support to reflect people’s differing needs, should ensure that employees leave on good terms, whilst also sending out positive signals to the rest of the workforce.

The result…..

A win, win for both the departing employees and for the employer by creating positive PR, which is likely to aid employee engagement, productivity and staff retention.

So, do you now, like me, also think that ‘outplacement’ is an outdated term that should be made redundant and consigned to ‘room 101’?

The jury is out! I would love to hear your views 🙂

Steve Preston is MD of independent Career & People Development Consultancy SMP Solutions (Career & People Development) Ltd and Author of the internationally acclaimed ‘Winning Through Redundancy- Six steps to navigate your way to a brighter future

SELF EMPLOYMENT – STARTING OVER AGAIN

Self-Starting Again

According to Barclays Bank 81% of entrepreneurs said they are happier now in self employment than when they were employed.  The same survey reveals that 71% were more optimistic, 63% were busier, 54% were more relaxed but that only 30% were better off than when employed.  The remaining 70% were obviously feeling the effects of losing their corporate packages or their businesses are still getting established and maybe in the process of building a business base.

When asked why they wanted to start their own businesses 44% said they wanted to build a big successful business, while 47% wanted to continue earning a living.  The final 9% wanted to either supplement their existing income or wanted to create a secondary income. The source for these figures is from the Barclays Bank website dated of 25 September 2014. 100% chose to start again.  They chose self employment to take control of their own career and life, be in the driving seat and put themselves and their families first. Look again at that impressive 81% who said they are happier now.  Could that be because they have re-modelled their work/life balance themselves?

Become a Free Agent

Maybe you are reading this because you have had enough of the corporate world, working for a large institution, working for other people’s visions and dreams or you might be facing or recently experienced redundancy? Either way, you have decided to take a long hard look at your working life and are keen to make changes. If so, you could become a free agent! With self employment you can be your own boss, take control, and have choice and the final say in what you do for a living, when you do it and how you do it.

Not everyone is an entrepreneur in the Dragons Den sense of the word. Not everyone wants to invent the next generation of vacuum cleaner or start their own airline.  However, self employment allows you to direct your talents to fulfil your life plans.  In the 21st century digital age, many skilled professionals opt for the simplest and most cost effective option of self employment i.e. to sell their expertise to individuals and / or organisations online or develop a service based business from home with a desk, computer and mobile technology. Having minimal overheads and maximum flexibility, rather than expensive office premises when you are starting out, is an attractive proposition. This means you keep the majority of the income you make, so it becomes much easier to start making a profit and a reasonable living.

Self Employment – Success Before You Start Up

Success Before You Start Up Book Cover

Despite all the positive statistics from Barclays, most businesses fail in their first two years of trading. Why is this? Because the business owner hasn’t done their homework. ‘Self employment seemed like a good idea at the time’ doesn’t wash if you haven’t thought things through properly, does it?  It is remarkable how often we come across people who haven’t done the basics such as:

  • Considered why you want to start a business i.e. what is the purpose and what are your goals?
  • Researched the market and the competition
  • Established whether there is a need or demand for your product, service or business idea
  • Developed any sort of business plan
  • Thought about how best to get your product or message across to make sales or earn income
  • Evaluated whether the business can make money

Passion is great but don’t overlook the essentials

It is great to have passion for what you do, as people buy people and your passion can become infectious. However, all too often, new business owners get carried away by the excitement of setting up their business and the passion for their products or services and overlook the reality that passion alone is not enough to create a successful business. Self employment means there is much hard graft to be done to ‘get out there’, network and sell and market yourself and your business like crazy both online and offline! There are many other considerations e.g.

  • Do you want to work alone?
  • In collaboration with others?
  • Employ a small team? If so where will you be based and how much can you afford in salaries, rent, rates and other overheads
  • Have you worked through how much you need to sell or income you need to generate to achieve your desired business and life goals?
  • Who will do the key administration and financial tasks?
  • Should you be vat registered?

Depending on what you do in your business and who you work with, you also have different options for setting up your business as a Sole Trader, Limited Company or Partnership. The first steps in any of these approaches are the same and it is very easy, once you know how to go about this but it makes sense to get good advice before you start trading.

Self Employment – Making it happen

Self-employment or starting up your own company can be hugely rewarding as the Barclays statistics highlight. It has never been easier than now to set up and start a business. If you would like practical help to set you on the right path to becoming self-employed then please contact us as wouldn’t it be great to start off on the right footing, so you really can enjoy the fruits of your labour and become one of the 81% who are happier now than when they were employed?

www.smp-solutions.co.uk

Photo – Everest at dawn courtesy of David Smith

Career over 40 – feeling washed up or thriving?

Do you feel washed up in your career over 40? Many people will have us believe that once you reach the ripe old age of forty that the best of your career is over. You might get passed over for promotion by younger blood, so your career either goes sideways or it is all downhill from now on. Of course much depends on the type of  job you do, industry and sector. Is this really fact or fiction? Isn’t it both interesting and heartwarming that such a myth of your career over 40 was blown away by none other than a mother of two young children, British athlete Jo Pavey. After a long and checkered athletic career, often plagued by injury and near misses and having had her second child at the start of the year, in the space of a few short weeks,  Jo won a bronze medal in the 5,000 meters at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, with a gutsy performance, stopping the Kenyans achieving a clean sweep of the medals. Only a couple of weeks later, Jo won the first gold medal of her international career, winning the 10,000 meters at the European championships in Zurich.

You are what you think and feel

Mindset, is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? If you believe that your career over 40 will be in a downward spiral, then that is probably the way things will turn out. So, what can we learn from Jo Pavey? Aside of being an inspiration to us all, this has been the most successful year of her entire career and she now has her sights on the next big challenge: her fifth Olympics, in Rio in 2016 and competing for a couple more years after that. Jo, by her own admission is feeling good about herself, relaxed and happy in her ‘work’ and her life. She also knows herself and her body better than ever, which means that she is better prepared for the big events, she can set her goals more clearly and is feeling excited and ready, rather than fearful, which may well have been the case at many previous major championships.

Jo Pavey Photograph: Adam Davy/PA

The Importance of doing what you love

Why push her body through all the daily hours of many miles of training for the next two years and beyond? Quite simply because she loves what she does. She also takes great pride in representing her country at major championships and certainly doesn’t consider all her hard graft as a chore or that she should be slowing down because of perceptions of her career over 40. Research consistently shows that around 1 in 2 people are unhappy and unfulfilled in their jobs. This may apply to you but if not, almost certainly someone you know. Another lesson for us all, in that life is too short, so why be unhappy? You do have choice.

Taking positive action

So, why does your career over 40 need to be washed up and negative? Jo Pavey has proven emphatically, in a grueling sport that it doesn’t have to be.  But what are your options, when you reach this stage of your career at life? Whether you still have ambitions to move up the career ladder, change career, develop a portfolio career or become your own boss and set up that business you have been thinking about, nothing will happen unless you take positive action. Too many people moan and groan about their lot and how they hate their job or how they would like to do this or that. Well the reality is that only you can make it happen. You must take responsibility for your career, as nobody else is likely to are they? Taking positive action is Step 6 of the highly acclaimed SMP Career Navigation Cycle process. SMP-Career-Navigation-Cycle

If you follow these 6 steps then you will ensure your career over 40 will not just survive but thrive, like Jo Pavey!

Winning Through – Your Route to a Brighter Future!

Winning is a powerful word whether you see, read or hear it. Winning conjures up a vision of success, of victory, of accomplishment. Winning is a word on a pedestal of its own, linked to feelings and emotions associated with the highest levels of personal achievement.

Winning delivers an end result.

You run in a race and you win. You experience a winning feeling. You achieve your desired result. However, in your endeavour to reach this pinnacle moment, what did you have to win through to actually achieve it?

Winning through is an altogether different concept.

To successfully win through anything in life, it is vital that you have a process or series of steps to follow or be guided by. Consider something you have achieved for yourself in your life, career or business. How did you achieve your successful end result? How did you get started? What happened along the way? What ‘mountains’ did you climb? How and when did you realise you had ‘arrived’?

Did you ‘see’ the process?

Regardless of whether you are an individual who believes that instinct and luck is all you need to win, these two beliefs inadvertently present you with a process you must follow before you can ‘win through’ any experience. Guided by instinct you will take a series of steps which lead toward your end goal, won’t you? The same goes for luck. Each ‘lucky’ achievement becomes another footprint and step to take toward you being luckier.

Much like a ‘navigation cycle’ leading to your success, don’t you think?

Picture the captain of a ship, on the bridge, his focus completely on a wild, stormy sea. As captain, it is his responsibility to navigate a safe route, to ‘win through’ the chaos. Using a process involving skills, technology and experience, the captain works out the best way to reach the destination; safely. In essence, he is guided by a process. Without it his ship may sink, all hands on deck lost. Not a winning through outcome.

So, will you arrive at your destination safe and sound or will you remain lost at sea?

In my experience, many people who face life or career changes such as redundancy and the fallout from restructuring, or separation and divorce, all too often remain ‘lost at sea’. Why? Because they feel the need to tread water, hoping that dry land will appear. Amid this time of uncertainty, the notion of winning through their current situation is usually so removed from their thinking. Have you experienced these feelings? Are you treading water?

Winning through can pave the way for clarity, focus, purpose and fulfilment.

Stop yourself from drowning by reaching out and taking hold of the life-ring. This will return you to dry land. Once you’re on the beach your task is to make a new set of footprints as you take one step at a time toward your new life or career journey. Make best use of a navigation cycle to enable yourself to clear your thoughts and gain a new perspective.

Now go forward with your newly discovered ‘winning through’ attitude!

 

 

Why Retire from Work? Simply Re-Tire your Life & Work Instead!

‘Does retirement make you ill?’ was the topic of conversation on a recent Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio 2. During the lunchtime discussion, listeners were asked to share their thoughts about the impact retirement can have on your life.

Mark Littlewood from the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) commented on one of their latest studies, which suggests that ‘almost 1 million people in Britain are now working beyond the retirement age of 65’. There are several factors relating to the reasons why this is the case, one in particular being the changing world of work.

Will you choose to retire at 65 or before? If so, how harmful is retirement for your health?

From the study carried out by the IEA, Mr Littlewood explained that even though the act of retiring can deliver a short-term boost, in the long-term it may trigger a decline in health, with cases of clinical depression and a need for medication becoming more apparent. Expressing his thoughts Mark suggested that ‘people can overlook the benefits of work, such as travelling to and from, the routine of working, and the social network of friends, together with the fact that being in work will allow you to be more affluent, which can impact on your level of happiness. If working longer keeps you happier, can a shift in thinking about retirement, become the tool to defuse the pension time bomb?’

Here’s a thought: what if you decide to re-tire your working lifestyle instead of retiring from work?

As mentioned by Mr Littlewood, when you work you maintain a level of physical and mental activity. Your work creates a routine for your mind to think, to move, to communicate, to interact and to solve problems etc. To help you reframe the way you think about retirement, you can develop a plan including your choice of structure, to replicate your working environment. Or you can simply reframe your mindset completely and re-tire the thinking around what work means to you.

‘My life is magic. To me it’s all about having a positive mindset’, remarked one 82 year old listener.

This dear gentleman, who continues to work with his grandson, said he does not wish to retire as his work gives him such great happiness and it keeps him healthy. What incredible sentiments. His mindset and knowing why his work is one of the greatest benefits for him personally are proof of how you can successfully reframe your thinking

Ignoring the US spelling of the word ‘tire’, how can you re-tire rather than retire?

Consider how often you need to replace tyres on your car. After 20,000 miles or so. Now think about why you change the tyres. To overcome wear and tear, for safety reasons, or for improved driving control.

Imagine you are facing the prospect of retiring from your work. Change your mindset to see your new ‘re-tired’ working lifestyle. Hold that picture in your mind as you discover why you’ve decided to work for longer, doing what you enjoy doing, together with the added benefits of happiness, fulfilment and good health.

When you re-tire your life you can:

  • Achieve Better Grip on the Road – you control what you do.
  • Drive Efficiently – economise your lifestyle, be flexible, stay healthy & happy.
  • Enable Smoother Cornering – enjoy the curves of your new road ahead, it’s your new journey.
  • Explore your New Tread –  this is your New Life Path, where you can ‘drive’ (work) for longer on your new road of choice, the one less travelled, your open road…

‘Re-tire’ your ‘wheels’ and inject your life with a new sense of purpose, perspective and well-being!

Discover more about how you can ‘re-tire’ your career, work or lifestyle by visiting our Career and People Development website

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portfolio Career – It’s your CHOICE!

  • Lots of ideas and options but unsure how to choose?
  • Do you love variety and differing challenges?

If so, a portfolio career could be for you!

What is a Portfolio Career?

Employment specialists have predicted for many years that work will become less structured and secure in the future and that we will face constant change in our working lives. This is definitely proving to be true and the portfolio career is now becoming an accepted alternative working lifestyle.

To be in control of your own career now means looking at alternative ways of working. To stay employable in the future you will need to adapt to new roles, acquire new skills and master new ways of building a career.

  • A portfolio career is one where you have an income from a number of sources
  • Perhaps a number of jobs
  • A job and a business
  • Any combination of activities and skills
  • A portfolio career may consist of different working arrangements at different times
  • Rather than working for one company you take on various projects and cultivate several clients
  • A successful Portfolio Career fits together bits of work in our life to form a balanced whole
  • It could typically include periods of employment through short term contracts e.g. project work, temporary or interim work, part-time work perhaps combined with self employment, working from home and even voluntary work
  • Basically anything and everything you want it to be to achieve your desired work-life balance and income requirements!

In order to pursue a Portfolio Career, you must be willing to risk personal change.

Some of the PROS and CONS of Having a Portfolio Career:

The PROS:

  • Flexibility
  • Creativity
  • Change
  • Autonomy (being in control)
  • Excitement
  • Achievement
  • Development of expertise and many skills
  • Personal Freedom & Personal Growth
  • Pleasure doing what you like
  • Risk Taking
  • Variety
  • Fast Pace
  • Leisure Time
  • Money
  • Emotional Health
  • Meaning
  • Continual Learning

If these appeal then maybe a portfolio career is a possibility

The CONS:

  • Risk
  • Change
  • Lack of Stability
  • Overwhelming when deadlines overlap
  • Fast pace
  • Lack of leisure time
  • Lack of money (or financial stability)
  • Pressure
  • Other people’s opinions
  • Lack of company benefits
  • Lack of a regular routine

If these are considered negative, you may need to reframe some of your thinking before considering a Portfolio Career

Starting a small business doesn’t have to be an all or nothing enterprise. You can develop into a number of areas and stretch yourself and really maximise your skill set. Most businesses naturally evolve and having a portfolio career arguably makes this easier.

Benefits of a Portfolio Career

  • Having a range of items in your portfolio gives you security
  • If one of them goes there are always others to fall back on
  • Great if you want to achieve more money, more freedom, more variety and more flexibility in your life
  • Extends your contact network and gives you the opportunity to develop new skills
  • Each piece of work you do adds to your portfolio of skills and experience which you can use to attract more work
  • Above all else – CHOICE!!!!!!!

To become a portfolio person, it means not thinking in terms of having or not having a job. Instead, taking control of your life, making flexibility the key and developing a portfolio of skills and activities either for sale or for voluntary work.

How Do I get a Portfolio Career?

Firstly, identify skills and traits that you could sell to form a potential portfolio career that could work for you. Things to consider:

  1. What motivates you?
  2. Work you enjoy e.g. – driving, painting, communicating, making things:
  3. What career(s) would you like to try, if you knew that you wouldn’t have to do it forever or on a full-time basis?
  4. Any ideas that you have for a home-based or small business, but have not felt would support you full time?
  5. Your skills and talents/ what do you have that others might pay for?
  6. Your major accomplishments

Balancing your portfolio:

  • The balance of your portfolio is likely to change at different periods in your life
  • A portfolio career may consist of different working arrangements at different times
  • If your career strands fail to provide you with everything you need you may decide to broaden your range of activities
  • However, at certain times, one strand may become all consuming
  • Caution – don’t try to take on too many different/new career strands at the same time!!.

If you have had enough of the corporate world or public sector bureaucracy or generally being an employee then maybe this could be the right career move for you. The good news is that self employment or developing a new career does not have to be about doing just one thing!

Can you imagine what it would be like to be in control of your career and working lifestyle? You are just one step away from developing your portfolio career of CHOICE and how good would that feel??