Working Transitions

a time of change in the career change sector

No industry stands still, and for the UK career transition sector, the last few years have been characterised by significant change. There have been a series of mergers and acquisitions which have reduced choice for the buyer. Add to this the emergence of technology only solutions and the increase in recruitment agencies claiming to offer outplacement services, as well as the myriad coaching and training companies and individuals who offer career transition support as part of a wider portfolio and the market can look confusing and difficult to navigate.

So, how can you ensure that you make the right choice? How do you ensure value for money in obtaining the very best support for your people? What are the key sector changes and themes that those purchasing outplacement need to consider?

The power of technology 

Individual one to one coaching sessions were traditionally the main component of outplacement programmes. Increasingly ubiquitous use of technology, at work and at home, plus the continued pressure on budgets, is driving growth in the use of technology as the dominant element of many outplacement services.

Yet even the best, most innovative technology does not necessarily make for a better experience which ensures achievement of individual goals. Many technology driven services cannot offer the human touch that is required for a truly personalised and successful career transition experience. Often, people who are already feeling at a low ebb are presented with an overwhelming selection of online options that, in order to benefit fully, requires a focus and self motivation that is usually lacking at this time.

At its most effective, technology should be an enabler of good outplacement support and has most impact when it is used in conjunction with some type of human contact. Key considerations for a buyer are:

  • What’s the ratio of online vs human support?
  • Is the online service designed specifically for the local country market?
  • Can it be personalised to individual or organisational needs?
  • Is it fully accessible via a range of different devices?
  • Can you trial the system before buying?

UK vs global service

When it comes to outplacement particularly, getting the balance right between equality of support for all, whilst ensuring that cultural and market differences are appropriately reflected in the service offered, requires an experienced partner.

Due to considerable consolidation over the last few years, finding a UK based provider with global capability and experience, leaves a small field from which to select. Many global solutions are negotiated by procurement professionals aiming to buy comparable global programmes at consistent pricing. Key questions to consider are:

  • How will consistent quality delivery be assured in each location?
  • Will any of the service delivery be sub contracted locally?
  • Are online solutions tailored to the local language and market?
  • Can the MI be provided to suit global and local needs?
  • What local account management is provided?

The generational challenge

The multi-generational workforce is now a fact in many workplaces. This presents opportunities and challenges, which have an impact when providing outplacement support. Whilst some themes may be similar – the successful transition from your current employer to something else – the approach taken to each generation needs to be appropriate.

Key considerations should be:

  • How does the provider ensure relevant approaches to different generational needs?
  • Demographic profile of the coaches?
  • Opportunities for additional training or skills development as part of the support package?
  • Can people access their support in multiple ways to suit their preferences?

Focus on the career journey rather than specific events

The approach to career transition is changing and forward thinking organisations increasingly view providing outplacement as only one element of an integrated approach to talent management. How people join, develop, move within and exit the organisation are all important transition points in each person’s career. Continuous change is now the norm and there is an increased focus on equipping employees to deal with impact of this on their career path. Outplacement should be considered as just one solution for workplace transitioning and the best providers understand this and can bring new ideas and solutions. When considering whether you are getting maximum value from your provider it’s worth asking:

  • How does your provider align outplacement with broader workplace transition management solutions?
  • Are they able to respond quickly to emerging needs and offer tailored solutions
  • Do they share their experience and ideas and help you to develop solutions?
  • Are they sharing market insights and innovations with you?

Making the right choice

There is still choice in the market, but the options are more polarised due to the wide variation in supplier size, coverage, expertise and methodology. It can be a challenge to evaluate one supplier vs another, so it’s important to ask the right questions:

  • Is your provider stable or going through change itself?
  • Is there evidence of adapting services to market changes?
  • Can they show innovation, responsiveness and flexibility in their approach to truly tailor services to your needs?
  • Do they have the scale and reach needed?

It is a period of intense change within the UK career transition sector. Those who are purchasing services face the challenge of making the right choice, whilst at the same time balancing budget and competing organisational needs.

It’s important to remember though that people are still people. In almost twenty five years of providing career transition services, we have learnt that, whilst markets and businesses change constantly, the range of emotions, concerns and reactions of people experiencing some type of career change remain largely unchanged. The ability to really connect with each person on an individual level and deliver a supportive, confidence building journey of discovery, leading to a successful outcome, is what has always distinguished the best providers in this sector – and that hasn’t changed.


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Working Transitions
20 September 2016
Supporting effective and successful organisational change


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