Industry Experience with Outplacement
The industry executives asked to participate in this workshop have all had experience with major downsizing and outplacement efforts in their respective organizations. This experience covers total shutdowns and phased reductions-in-force, taking place in small, rural labor markets as well as major metropolitan areas, for all levels of employees and all types of skills, and, in many cases, in multiple sites throughout the United States. The range of outplacement experience represented at the workshop is relevant to the outplacement still facing the Department of Defense, particularly General Electric and Lockheed Martin, which are both defense contractors with experience in the outplacement of employees with skills similar to some of those who will be outplaced by the Department of Defense. Right Associates has also had extensive experience with outplacement for the military. The participants include: Jack Ryan of General Electric Aircraft; Susan Diamond of Right Associates; Ellen Jackson of AT&T; Anne Messenger of Lockheed Martin, and Anthony Papalia of SUNY Cortland and Smith Corona. The presentations each participant made during the workshop are summarized below.
Part II begins with an overview of outplacement experience in a paper by Gerald R. Bush. "Lessons Learned from Outplacement Practice and Experience" examines outplacement from the perspective of a manager and outplacement consultant. Bush uses details and examples to
flesh out the outplacement practices listed in the workshop model—planning, communicating, and providing resources for the transition (assistance with job loss and job search). He emphasizes planning that encompasses "the well-being of employees who are leaving, and…those who are staying." Bush notes the importance of communications about outplacement not only for employees, but also for the surrounding community, the organization's customers and suppliers, the media, and the employees' families. In particular, he highlights the importance of the termination or exit interview with departing employees, noting that the quality of this interview can have a significant impact on how all employees perceive the organization. Supervisors need to be trained to get the fact of job loss across to employees unequivocally, as well as deal with the employees' reactions.
Bush briefly describes individual reactions to job loss and the effects that these reactions can have on family and community. He notes that outplacement programs need to consider individual reactions and the broader social aspects of job loss in planning outplacement programs. Finally, he outlines a framework for outplacement support of the job search that includes organizational structuring of the job search process, training for technical and job search skills, education about the new employment contract and evolving work forms such as self-directed teams, and coordination and centralization of information about funding, training, and job opportunities. The Bush paper provides good background for the remarks of industry participants.
Jack Ryan of General Electric (GE) Aircraft noted that GE has developed a model for outplacement that, although used to provide guidelines throughout the company, can also be tailored to the needs of each GE business. He then described an organizational process for outplacement that includes all the practices shown in Figure 1 (see p. 4): planning, communicating, resources for transition centers, monitoring, and customizing. Ryan reported that GE Aircraft ran two transition (career) centers between 1992 and 1995, one tailored to the needs of professionals and managers, the other tailored to hourly workers. Both centers were fully resourced—that is, they were staffed by expert consultants, ran a full complement of workshops for job search, provided counseling, and had all the material resources required (workstations, telephones, job search databases and other information on job opportunities) for finding jobs. Ryan allowed that, with hindsight, GE Aircraft wishes it had done more up-front planning for outplacement, more marketing and communicating with employees about the importance of using the transition centers, and more monitoring of data on center use. He highlighted the importance of community job development in helping people to become successfully reemployed. He also noted that coordination with community providers
of services for training and social welfare has been an important part of GE Aircraft's transition center services.
Susan Diamond of Right Associates offered an upbeat picture of outplacement and reemployment. She stated that virtually all employees who want to find new jobs will do so. She emphasized that outplacement should help people not only to get new jobs, but also to find jobs that match their interests. Right Associates is one of the largest outplacement consulting firms in the world, with considerable experience with the military and defense contractors, and Diamond shared some of this experience. In doing so, she provided a clear picture of what organizations should look for in selecting outplacement consultants. At the community level, Diamond emphasized the importance of expertise and technology in developing networking opportunities and job leads. She also noted that experts know when to go out into the community to find training resources (for example, for literacy instruction) that they are not best suited to provide. At the individual level, Diamond highlighted the need to have career center staff who cannot only assess client problems and skills, but also help them use this information to actively prepare for and pursue jobs. Finally, at the organization level, she discussed the need for monitoring outplacement services, using measures to gauge the quality of job development, workshops, career center use, and so forth. She also pointed out the importance of finding experts who can work with the organization from the onset of downsizing to help plan outplacement, communicate with employees, and set the stage for employee acceptance of both outplacement and the new employment contract.
Ellen Jackson of AT&T described its outplacement efforts as part of a much broader planning scenario. Since 1991, AT&T has planned and implemented a host of programs designed to buffer the ups and downs in its internal labor market demands for different types of skills. Jackson noted that this planning has been done to accommodate a more competitive and unpredictable business environment, and also as a way to offer alternatives to a workforce that wants more flexibility in balancing work and lifestyle demands. She described two buffer programs in some detail: a special leave of absence program and a program called Resource Link. This latter program selects AT&T employees who have been given termination notification and keeps them in an internal pool of talent that is contracted out to AT&T customers internally. Both these programs have been very successful, and Jackson noted that employees view them as tangible evidence that AT&T cares about them.
Anne Messenger of Lockheed Martin offered workshop participants the benefits of her 11 years of outplacement experience by emphasizing some of the more intangible "musts" that she considers essential in successful outplacement. Many of these go to the heart of what it means to
consider the individual in all the outplacement planning, job development, monitoring, and so forth that goes on in most major organizational downsizing. She noted, for example, that career centers must hire "intelligent, street smart, people smart staff," and that she is firm about having staff with personal experience of job loss. She also said that the career center should look good physically, because this helps both clients and staff feel better about being there. She closed by noting that she firmly believes you can teach people how to find and secure jobs, but that it is more difficult to teach them how to understand the new employment contract. The latter requires a mental shift that is hard to accomplish.
Anthony Papalia of SUNY Cortland has worked in outplacement for 20 years and was closely involved with the shutdown of Smith Corona in the small, rural community of Cortland, New York. Nearly 2,700 employees lost their jobs in that shutdown. He described the task force and the steering committee that were set up to involve company and community in outplacement efforts. He noted that a high level of community involvement was necessary to find jobs, provide training, deal with financial and health problems, and provide warning to local businesses that their own balance sheets would be affected. He detailed some of the training efforts required to bring long-term employees' skills up to standard so that they could find new jobs. On a sober note, he warned about the need for increased security measures when terminations are announced—not only at the company but also at the homes of key executives. To balance this out, he closed by saying that it is essential in all outplacement efforts to help employees who have lost their jobs maintain a sense of balance in their lives. They need to be reminded not to neglect families, friends, or themselves. (Dr. Papalia has summarized his outplacement experience with Smith Corona in a small booklet: An Inside Look at Outplacement Counseling.)
LESSONS LEARNED FROM OUTPLACEMENT PRACTICE AND EXPERIENCE
Heller School, Brandeis University
Over the last 10 years the highly visible downsizing in many industries has brought media attention to the professional outplacement industry. Claims for the first commercial outplacement activity, however, occurred in the early 1960s. By the second half of the 1960s the outplacement industry was clearly established with the formation of companies such as Challenger, Gray and Christmas in Chicago, Drake Beam and Associates and THInc, in New York City. THInc was the first specialized senior executive outplacement firm, and Drake Beam and Associates did the first group outplacement in 1969. The Association of Outplacement Consulting Firms was established in 1979 (Meyer and Shadle, 1994). In the 1990s, many large private sector employers have developed (often in conjunction with professional outplacement firms) their own models for the outplacement process. Examples of these employers include AT&T, General Electric, IBM, and Chemical Bank.
The purpose of this paper is to review the lessons of some 30 years of outplacement experience. The paper follows the temporal course of outplacement from planning and notification through termination and job search, focusing on the techniques and processes used by employers to implement outplacement. In following the outplacement process, the paper focuses on the techniques and processes used by employers and discusses the needs of the employees who are impacted by these processes, especially those who become candidates for job search.
The Decisions to Downsize
Outplacement experience stresses three major objectives that need to be considered when the organization first thinks about downsizing: the long-term, sustainable success of the organization, the well-being of employees who are leaving, and the well-being of employees who are staying.
One lesson learned from outplacement experience is foremost: downsizing should be planned, be executed, and be over with. The worst thing that can happen from the point of view of the organization, of those still employed, and of those being terminated is an announcement of "final" layoffs, followed by the news that there are more layoffs to come. Faced with such conflicting information, all employees will believe, rightly or
wrongly, that their jobs are in jeopardy. It is best for the organization and for all its employees to do it [downsize], do it right, and do it quickly.
The Elements of a Downsizing and Outplacement Plan
There are four major steps in planning an organizational downsizing or closing (see box). The first and most critical step is: Determine the Future Desired State—that is, anticipate what the organization will look like after the decision to close or downsize has been implemented. If the situation is a total closing, this is relatively simple. However, even in these cases, parts of the organization may be relocated. Clarity and certainty regarding all aspects of the downsizing (organization structure, function and personnel) are critical.
The second step is: Assess the Present State—to clarify all aspects of the current situation. Planners must get up-to-date information on the numbers, age, gender, years of service, work records, and skills of the current workforce, which includes both active employees and employees on leave.
The third step is: Compare the Future and Present State—which requires analyzing what achieving the future desired state will do for the overall organization. This is the detailed answer to the question, "Why are we taking this trip?" Answers are usually expressed first in terms of strategic mission and goals and then in terms of more quantitative objectives such as cost savings, increases in productivity, adjustments to environmental changes, and the like. In addition, comparisons of current work processes and how they will be affected by downsizing are extremely important. These comparisons are necessary to detail which activities and people will stay, and which will be transferred or terminated. Organizations that neglect this step of planning run the risk of announcing terminations and then being forced to recall people because essential work must be done. This is, at best, bad management and, at worst, inhumane treatment. It is also important for the organization to consider how good (unbiased) its performance evaluation systems are and to make decisions about the role that performance evaluation ratings will play in deciding which people will be asked to leave. An organization that does not deal with the role of performance evaluations in downsizing will be vulnerable to lawsuits from disgruntled displaced workers and may suffer from the lowered morale of employees still on board.
The fourth step is to determine the "How?" and "When?" of the process and involves planning the implementation of the downsizing or closing. Answers to these questions may seem among the most straightforward in the planning process. However, like many things in life, success
Steps in Planning Downsizing
in planning and implementing a downsizing is in the details, which include:
designing new work processes and being ready to implement them at the time of downsizing;
designing new reporting relationships and being ready to implement them immediately;
deciding, in advance, on promotions or demotions that will occur in the newly configured organization;
assigning relatively easy work to remaining employees the first few weeks following layoffs and then providing challenging assignments;
talking with suppliers and customers within the first few hours or days of downsizing to reduce apprehension and ensure that quality relationships are maintained;
developing contingency plans in the event of a work stoppage;
developing contingency plans in the event of violence or threats of violence;
scheduling sessions with employees who are staying to explain the need for the closing, downsizing, or realignment and related terminations; discuss their reactions and future career prospects with them; discuss ways in which they can relate to and support friends who are leaving;
making certain that there are adequate financial and human resources to maintain the downsizing work and its accompanying psychological, physical, and administrative burdens;
having the layoff plan reviewed by knowledgeable outsiders to make certain that the plan represents best practice and conforms to all relevant state or federal laws;
having all public announcements and plans for public relations, especially those released to the local community, prepared and managed by knowledgeable staff;
providing training to people who will be doing the exit interviews; and
providing support systems to employees who will be staying and those who will be leaving.
Organizational downsizing or closing needs to be managed by a team of people qualified to deal with the multitude of issues that arise throughout the process. A task force of competent persons should be created as early in the process as possible. For sizable closing or downsizing efforts, such a task force or team should include benefits experts, career development and training specialists, financial analysts, real estate experts, operations management experts, and operating management.
Once the major steps in planning downsizing are completed, implementation of these plans begins. The first step in implementation is the announcement of downsizing and terminations. Typically there is a general announcement about downsizing and terminations made to the organization's entire workforce, followed by announcements to the press. Group meetings may be held with the employees to be terminated to provide some additional details about the reasons for downsizing and the conditions of termination. At this stage of the termination process, the employees will be in shock, and the employer should not expect any significant recall of the details of the meetings. These meetings should be augmented by exit interviews with each terminating employee.
Termination Announcements and Timing
The timing of termination announcements is also important. Many organizations are legally compelled to provide 60 to 90 days notification of impending terminations. This advance notification, although resisted by many organization, leads to employees perceiving the termination process as being fairer and also helps employees prepare themselves for their job search. Some organizations have provided as much as 18 to 24 months notification without suffering negative consequences, such as lower morale, decreased productivity, and workplace conflict. There is no good rule of thumb about the optimal length of advance notice, but longer periods are apparently not so risky as many employers have believed them to be.
The Termination Interview
The primary objective of a termination interview is to make certain the employee realizes that his or her dismissal is a business decision that is final and irrevocable. In a word, the employment contract is broken and reemployment will not occur in the foreseeable future. (Although reemployment is possible, reemployment rights and conditions should be clearly spelled out.)
A major conclusion gleaned from outplacement industry experience is that people conducting the termination or exit interviews must be trained to do them. The organization cannot assume that the average supervisor has the required interview skills. Indeed, outplacement professionals routinely share horror stories of employees leaving termination interviews thinking that they were just promoted, that they have another year or more on the job, or that their supervisors loved firing them. There are even reports of supervisors who tell their secretaries to "do the deed." A second step in implementing terminations is thus training the supervisors who will be handling exit interviews.
The training for exit or termination interviews should prepare supervisors to give employees the business-related reason(s) for their dismissal. The reasons for the downsizing should be presented in outline form and in a concise manner (no more than three minutes) and made as specific as possible to the particular employee's job.
Supervisors should also be prepared to give employees any necessary severance data. These should include details on salary continuation (if any), the status of health and dental insurance, payments for vacation and/or sick days not used, the continuation and/or conversion of life insurance, unemployment insurance entitlement and starting dates, pension entitlement and elections, if any, and all other benefits information. If relevant, reemployment rights should also be spelled out. Supervisors must also cover the details on how and when the employee is to exit the organization. This involves vacating office space, returning vehicles, turning in identification badges and keys, credit cards, and the like. The last day the person is expected to report for work should be specified. Information on severance and check-out details is best communicated when it is prepared in writing individually for each employee. A written document enables the employee to review termination benefits and last day of work details privately, with time to plan.
Outplacement experts suggest that exit or termination interviews take place on a Tuesday or Wednesday morning. A Friday afternoon interview can result in a weekend of potential pain, brooding, disorientation,
contemplation of lawsuits, and other possibly destructive thoughts and behaviors. The midweek timing allows for an orderly exit during the regular business week. It can also encourage employees to use some time during that week to start thinking about the preliminaries of a job search.
Finally, supervisors should be trained to use the termination interview to express organizational regrets about the need to downsize and concern about the departing employee. Conveying this message is key to helping employees preserve positive attitudes and is essential for maintaining their self-esteem. One concrete means of expressing the organization's concern is the offer of a letter of reference. If the termination is ''no-fault,'' there should be no problem in preparing a "To Whom It May Concern" letter that includes: dates of employment, job titles held, duties performed, merit recognitions given, a sentence covering reasons for termination, and the name and address of a person who could be contacted for elaboration. A copy of the letter could be given to the person during the termination interview. (Note: the employer should make all decisions regarding reference policy before the terminations are announced. The person doing the exit interview must know and communicate the policy clearly and accurately.) Obviously, the severance package is the most powerful tool the employer has to demonstrate willingness to help a departing employee. The second most powerful tool is the level of concern conveyed by the supervisor conducting the exit interview.
The message of concern is also important because of its impact on employees left behind. If survivors feel that dismissals were handled fairly and justly, it will show in their attitude and work. If the opposite is true, it will also show.
Supporting Job Loss
Employers must understand that in addition to being a financial event, the loss of a job is a complex psychological, physiological, and social event for individuals. Experience shows that people often respond mentally to job loss with increased anxiety or depression, lowered self-esteem, more abuse of drugs or alcohol, and even suicidal thoughts. Increases in psychosomatic illnesses have been documented with job loss: headaches, sleep and eating problems, and fatigue. An increase in more serious health problems is not uncommon: more high blood pressure, heart, and gastrointestinal problems.
From a social viewpoint, job loss can affect family and friends negatively. Spouses may experience many of the same mental and physical health problems that the laid-off worker does. Family discord and conflict or abuse can increase. A displaced worker can also lose contact or common interests with many of his or her friends as a result of job loss.
The result is social isolation and increased difficulty in pursuing the interactions with people that can help find a new job. A worker's social circle tends to grow smaller the longer unemployment persists.
The social costs of job loss for the larger community are well documented. In addition to the lowered morale of surviving coworkers, there is typically some downturn in demand for many business products and services in the community. In the case of major downsizing, this may lead to lowered economic vitality for the entire community. Given the increase in family conflicts and mental and physical health problems, there will also be an increased demand for community social and security services—demands that these services may not be adequately prepared to meet. At minimum, advance warning of a downsizing or closing and perhaps some financial resources should be given to local human service agencies. Employers should also actively inform potential job sources about the scope of their downsizing plans. Notice should be given to local employment assistance agencies—public and private. Efforts should be made to contact other employers, formal and informal support groups, the state employment service, and other possible employment sources. The employer's purpose in informing employment sources is to "weave a web of supports and community involvement (AOCFI, 1994)." In fact, an attempt should be made to create partnerships with all possible sources of social and employment support in the community.
Employers also need to understand that individual reactions to job loss vary. For example, some people tend to view themselves as having more control over their lives and will have more resilience and energy than others in dealing with setbacks such as job loss. Individuals will also differ in their financial resources, in their interests in alternative careers or retraining, and in their other life goals (such as early retirement) at the time of job loss. Demographic factors are relevant, too, such as level of education, age, gender, race/ethnicity, and marital status. For example, single mothers with little education and limited financial resources may find job loss more traumatic than highly educated, married women whose spouses have well-paid jobs.
Finally, situational factors can influence the stress individuals experience with job loss. The economic environment is important. If unemployment in the area is generally high, this tends to make workers feel more discouraged about the area labor market and getting another good job. This feeling will be even stronger when the general economic conditions in the country are viewed as negative. In addition, the nature of the worker's attachment to the organization and the type of layoff or downsizing situation occurring will affect reactions to job loss. Reactions to job loss may be more intense for employees who believe they have secure,
career-long "psychological contracts" with their employers and who are faced with the permanent loss of their jobs.
Many government employers, for example, have offered such long-term psychological contracts to employees. People who sought government employment have often been willing to accept lower pay, a more bureaucratic work life, and the possibility of transfers in exchange for work that has national importance (or at least serves the public interest), and for career progress and overall job security that are protected by government personnel systems. Most government employees believed that if they worked diligently their employment contract was secure. In many government jobs, job security has been the rule for so long, that when employees are faced with involuntary termination they react with greater feelings of shock, disbelief, betrayal, and even violation than employees with less secure 'psychological' employment contracts might.
Understanding individual reactions to job loss helps employers understand the need to expand outplacement programs and practices beyond a focus on getting a job. The fact that job loss is stressful and can result in financial, psychological, physical, and social problems means that employers should consider programs that provide some support in each of these areas. Financial support can come through severance pay, medical benefit extensions, financial counseling, and assistance in finding community sources of funds for welfare, retraining, and relocation. Emotional, physical, and social support can come through the provision of counseling and health services, as well as through the structure of support groups and formal centers where people can gather for workshops and conduct their job searches. The fact that individuals vary in their reactions to job loss depending on personality and demographic and situational factors means that employers need to consider a full range of outplacement options—retraining, career counseling, retirement counseling, relocation, geographically wide-ranging job leads, self-employment, etc., and allow individuals some discretion in the time it takes to find a new job or another alternative.
Supporting the Job Search
Outplacement experience suggests that employers can support individuals in their search for new jobs by:
providing some formal structure for the search—a support group, a central location for information, or a formal outplacement center, and an outplacement process to follow;
offering some support in assessing current skills and identifying skill gaps that, if filled, may increase employment opportunities.
offering training and education that covers cultural and technical aspects of potential new jobs, as well as specific workshops on job search skills; and
coordinating information on jobs, training, and other funds from community agencies, businesses, and placement sources.
In providing a formal structure for job search, the employer recognizes that most employees have lost the formal structure that work demands place on their time. Ideally, a center devoted to job search can be set up somewhere off the work site. This center is a place where outplaced employees can regularly report, see others, and maintain a sense of purpose in pursuing their job searches. If such a center is not possible, then the employer can be instrumental in setting up support groups or job clubs, providing employees with ideas about how to set up their own job search "command central" at home, or setting up an organizational help line to support individuals in getting appointments with community training, mental health, and employment counselors.
A sense of purpose and process in outplacement is also important for employers to establish. Employees entering outplacement need to understand that it is a process that starts with grieving the job loss, getting support, assessing career goals and interests, defining job goals, writing a resume, searching, interviewing, and so forth. Finding a job is hard work and individuals must work at it as hard as they would at a regular job.
Employers should use their resources to identify likely sources of employment locally, regionally, and nationally for people with the skills they are outplacing. This may require conducting surveys or analyzing existing ones, hiring experts to develop this information, buying access rights to major electronic job databases, and other forms of networking with industry and social contacts. Although such information is often difficult for employers to obtain, it is nearly impossible for individuals to get otherwise. At the same time, this information is crucial to outplaced employees' decisions on which skills to upgrade or acquire and how much time to invest in this process.
Effective outplacement includes opportunities for several different kinds of training and education. Technical training to develop or upgrade specific job skills is one type. Outplacement programs can direct employees to the best sources for such training and help them find funding. Education about cultural changes related to the new employment contract and the transformed workplace is another type of training that needs to be part of outplacement offerings. Employees need to understand work options such as contract or project work, self-employment, placement internships, and so forth. Many individuals want to find another "permanent" job, but changes in the workplace may make this un
likely. Even "permanent" jobs may include flexible work assignments and self-directed teams that individuals may not know from their previous jobs.
Employers need to include a variety of experiential workshops designed to develop job search skills, including resume writing, interviewing, how to develop job leads (networking and informational interviewing), and how to handle rejection. Workshops should emphasize that job candidates must market themselves according to employers' needs.
Finally, the organization's outplacement efforts should include coordination and centralization of information from a variety of sources helpful to job search. These include community educational providers, sources of government funding for training and living expenses, job opportunities from local, regional, and national sources, unemployment benefits services, etc. Ideally, the success or failure of different ways to develop job leads, different sources of job information, the usefulness of local workshops and programs, and feedback from employers using the outplacement service would also be part of the information shared for the benefit of people searching for jobs and the organization funding outplacement.
Among the foremost lessons learned during 30 years of outplacement experience is that effective outplacement requires planning when downsizing is still only a glimmer in the top management team's vision. Organizations must be able to articulate what downsizing will mean to the workforce—why downsizing is necessary, who will be affected, and how they will be affected. The ability to be so articulate about downsizing often requires the appointment of a downsizing team that represents all the line and staff interests and expertise that will be involved throughout the process. Planning and communications about downsizing will affect both employees who stay and those who leave. In particular, the people conducting termination and exit interviews for employees being outplaced must be trained in what information to provide and in how to provide it.
Outplacement experience also suggests that departing employees need assistance in coping with job loss. Counseling, either in-house or by referral to the community, is needed to help employees work through the negative feelings and actions that often accompany job loss. The fact that individuals will vary in their reactions to job loss and in their interest in finding alternatives requires that outplacement efforts include a variety of options—training, self-employment, retirement, relocation, and career planning. Negative reactions to job loss also mean that the organization
has a responsibility to coordinate downsizing with community businesses and a range of other service providers.
Finally, experience shows that outplacement efforts focused on helping individuals find jobs should provide structure (both in terms of place and process) for the job search; technical and cultural training relevant to the needs of today's workplace; and workshops on resume writing, interviewing, developing jobs, and handling rejections. These workshops are most effective when they allow employees to role play, practice, and get direct feedback on their job search skills. Employers should coordinate information on sources of jobs, funding, and other information relevant to job search and make it available to outplaced employees. Details on what is working or not working will both help job searchers and improve employer outplacement efforts.
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Asher, Donald 1995 The Foolproof Job-Search Workbook. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press.
Association of Outplacement Consulting Firms International (AOCFI) 1994 Final Report to the U.S. Department of Labor. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Labor.
AT&T 1994 With Respect to People. Morristown, NJ: AT&T.
Bolles, Richard Nelson. 1996 The 1996 What Color Is Your Parachute. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press.
Bridges, William 1991 Managing Transitions. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.
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Meyer, John L., and Carolyn C. Shadle 1994 The Changing Outplacement Process. Westport, CT: Quorum Books.
Morin, William J., and Lyle Yorks 1990 Dismissal: There Is No Easy Way But There Is A Better Way. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
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Papalia, Anthony S. 1995 An Inside Look at Outplacement Counseling: The Relocation of Smith-Corona to Mexico. Cortland, NY: Cortland Press.
Pickman, Alan J. 1994 Complete Guide To Outplacement Counseling. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Manager of Recruitment, Placement, and Employment Practices General Electric Aircraft
General Electric (GE) is a diversified, global manufacturing and service company in 12 businesses. We are number one or two in our respective industries—or, following Jack Welch's vision, we fix, close, or sell the business. Organizationally, we are committed to customer satisfaction via speed and quality production and service. This commitment has meant that we drive decision making and accountability to the lowest levels possible; we have reduced layers of management and downsized considerably over the last five years. GE has developed a general model for outplacement that is tailored to the business using it. I will be focusing on outplacement that has occurred at GE Aircraft in Cincinnati, Ohio. One "best practice warning": the data I will share with you has worked at GE Aircraft but, as Peter Senge said in The Fifth Discipline, if we rely totally on best practices, the Wright Brothers would have never flown.
Between 1992 and 1995, GE Aircraft ran two transition centers, one for professional and one for hourly employees. In 1995, as the volume of outplacement declined, these two centers were combined. The centers are both off-site and at the peak of outplacement served 300 or more transitioning employees daily. We hired expert center managers, roughly one for each 25–30 participants. The centers were fully resourced, that is, there were ample private workstations, long distance telephone services, on-line job search services, national newspapers, information on job fairs, labor market job postings, and kid play areas. We believe that full resourcing of the transition centers makes a statement to employees about how much you care about them. One-stop shopping is a center feature. All services that participants might need—all types of counseling, federal program assistance, etc.—are in one location. Our centers have served about 4,000 people, or 65 percent of the total number of GE Aircraft employees downsized over the last four years.
The GE outplacement model suggests that each business define a mission, values, and general operating principles for its outplacement practices. At GE Aircraft this suggestion was translated as: offering world-class transition assistance that achieves reemployability for participants and treats them with dignity and fairness. Center operations were planned prior to downsizing, and communications about downsizing were provided to all parties concerned—workers, managements, families, and labor representatives. The centers were staffed by experts, and
programs were designed to be flexible enough to meet the different and changing needs of participants.
The transition process at GE Aircraft involved 60 days notice of job loss. Upon notification, employees were encouraged to think that their new job was finding a job. On-site orientation sessions were held for groups of employees shortly after notification to inform them about counseling services, their outplacement benefits packages, and the range of services offered at the transition centers. Families were encouraged to tour the centers. Following on-site orientation, employees could sign up for transition center services: two 4-hour job search workshops covering counseling, testing and career guidance, and information on how to prepare resumes, organize for a job search, interview, etc. Each participant could also get 3 hours of individual counseling and coaching related to job searches (mock interviews, videos of interview style, resume finalization, and how to negotiate for a job). Employees could use the center up to 2 years after their notification.
We have learned some key lessons in 4-plus years of outplacement at GE Aircraft. Probably the most critical lesson is that job development is essential to effective reemployment of outplaced employees. We hired experts to go out and canvass local, regional, and national work opportunities for employees with different skills and then bring information on these openings back to the transition centers. These experts identified the top 10 hiring companies in our region, found out what kind of people they were hiring, and used this information to drive workshops and direct center participants to training. We estimate that this approach to job development secured one-third of the jobs found by our salaried center participants. It is interesting to note that the hourly employees who participated at the hourly transition center had less difficulty in finding jobs than our professional and managerial employees. This is probably due to the nature of the local labor market and the relatively strong demand for hourly workers. Our local unions were also active in scouting jobs.
A second lesson learned is that training managers in how to do exit interviews is critical. When you sit facing an employee who has given heart and soul to the company for 15 or more years, who has three kids in college, and you have to explain to them some rationale for eliminating his or her job—it's a momentous task. Managers need tools and coaching to do it, including where to do the interview, what to say first, the exact content of the message, what different reactions to expect, and how to handle them. No matter what other communications have been directed to departing employees, the exit interview is where the shoe drops. You've got to be sure employees understand that this is final.
Another lesson learned is the importance of helping survivors, the employees who are not leaving. You know, my friend of 15 years has
been laid off; he lives next door to me; I'm the godfather of his kids. How do I handle this? Is my job next? We ask that survivors use our employee assistance program for counseling about these feelings.
A fourth lesson learned involves the importance of up-front planning. Outplacement planning should coincide with planning for downsizing. We got experts involved early on in the process; we worked with a joint management and labor committee early on in the process. Both efforts paid off. On the downside, and in hindsight, we believe we should have marketed employee participation in the transition centers more heavily from the outset of downsizing. For example, we could have done benchmarking of other centers within GE and advertised the fact that people who use the centers are X percent more likely to find jobs than people who don't. We could have worked with the state unemployment services earlier on to say that employees must use either the transition centers or the state's workshops if they want to collect their unemployment benefits. We should have had fully operational transition centers ready when outplacing started, but the start-up date was delayed. All these things meant lower center participation than we would have liked.
Finally, we learned that we should have tracked participant demographics and center use and reemployment data better. This would have made it much easier to say which activities were resulting in jobs for which participants. We started doing some tracking of data for our professional and managerial center participants and found that, of about 1,700 employees, 80 percent found new jobs, 10 percent moved or couldn't be contacted, 5 percent went back to school, 1 percent retired, 3 percent started their own businesses, and 1 percent chose to stay home. Of the participants who found jobs, 88 percent found jobs locally. We need to manage outplacement to deal with all these choices. We also need data to know when and if to wind down outplacement operations.
Senior Career Management Professional, Right Associates, and Director, Mobil Research and Development Career Center
Right Associates is the largest and fastest-growing firm of its kind, specializing in human resources consulting and outplacement services. We have 131 offices worldwide and our clients include 400 of the Fortune 500. Right Associates has considerable experience in providing workshops on retirement, career planning, and outplacement to military and civilian personnel at over 50 Army bases and a few other sites, including ships at sea.
To give you a snapshot of reemployment in the private sector, I'd like to share with you results from a sample of over 14,000 individuals in
Right Associates full-service programs over the past 10 years. Full service is defined as one-on-one career counseling, office space, and administrative support for 6 to 12 months. The most significant result from this sample is that virtually all people from all skill backgrounds were reemployed within their severance periods: 81 percent were employed in new jobs; 19 percent were self-employed. (Our full-service programs include assistance to those who want self-employment; we work with them to develop a viable business plan.) Of this sample, 60 percent earned plus or minus 10 percent of what they were previously earning. However, some wanted to change their lifestyles and pursue a new career. Right Associates believes it is important to not only help people find jobs, but also to help them achieve career satisfaction as they define it. For example, just last week, a client who, at the initial stages of the outplacement process, was one of the most angry and bitter I had ever encountered, came by to thank us because we helped him transform what he once regarded as a fantasy—work that indulged his love of roller coasters—into a realistic job objective. Though he was skeptical about our process, we pushed him into networking with roller coaster organizations—yes, they do exist. As a result, he has been hired as a design engineer for a theme park in Florida. Such results, much more so than placement in a high-paying job, define career satisfaction for me.
We have already learned a lot from our morning panelists (the commissioned paper authors and Amiram Vinokur) and from Jack Ryan of GE, about career centers or transition centers, the principles on which they operate, and the types of services they offer. I would like to reinforce some of the information they have provided and also highlight some of our experiences that are particularly important. I am also recommending two books that should probably be collectively subtitled "everything you ever wanted to know about termination but were afraid to ask." The first is Essential Facts: Termination of Employment by Richard Chagnon; the second is Lessons Learned: Dispelling the Myths of Downsizing by Right Associates.
As to our experience. First, I'd like to reinforce Amiram Vinokur's remarks about the importance of active learning in job search workshops. Our consultants view themselves as facilitators who draw out what a person already knows and provide positive feedback to increase motivation and self-esteem. Second, should career services be customized to different skills levels or types of employees? Yes and no. Yes, democracy rules when it comes to access to physical resources and community services such as state unemployment services and federal program counselors. No, when it comes to counseling, workshops, training, career guidance, networking teams, etc. Content, job examples, pacing, and even vocabulary need to be tailored to the skill group and level of the clients.
Common sense alone dictates that counseling for a chief executive officer will differ from counseling for an information science professional. Ideally you separate and serve different groups, but sometimes you must deal with mixed groups. In the latter case, you have to make sure that junior-level people are not intimidated by the senior levels.
Third, our experience dictates that at our centers we must focus on training for which we are particularly qualified. For example, we do not teach people to read, although we will diagnose their need for such training. Instead, we send them to vocational programs in the area, and professionals in literacy provide instruction. We do, however, teach people how to use the Internet to find job opportunities: posting resumes, accessing relevant job listings, and so forth. Right Associates has developed software that enables people to identify their skills and match them with Dictionary of Occupational Titles equivalents. This same software can help them find data on additional educational requirements for these equivalents, where to go for more training, expected earnings, and employment prospects, etc. A warning on Internet use: we emphasize that the Internet is only one way to find jobs and not more likely than other ways to secure jobs. We ask our clients to spend no more than 10 to 12 percent of their search time on Internet. People can get addicted to using it.
Our clients can also use Right Associates software to highlight the names of employers in their geographic area who have indicated an interest in hiring people with their skills. These are employers that Right Associates has identified through job development activities. The Right Associates proprietary system, Job Bank, contains about 7,000 job listings at any point in time. In addition, we use telemarketers to actively market job candidates. These types of activities help develop networks if not actual job prospects.
Reinforcing remarks Leaetta Hough (commissioned paper author) made this morning, Right Associates uses a lot of self-assessment materials to measure interests, skills, communications styles, personality type, and so forth. Also, as she suggested, we make sure that each person knows how to use this information to help define career goals and job objectives. We emphasize that no matter who your former employer was (for example, the military), you need to market yourself in ways that prospective employers can understand and fit into their organizations. Do not describe yourself as a bureaucrat with lots of furlough experience, but rather as someone who has specific administrative, systems, or decision-making skills that can be used in most organizations.
Finally, we focus on communications with employees in as many ways and formats as possible. One message we particularly emphasize is that we are teaching people to learn how to pursue lifetime employability, not lifetime employment.
I'd like to close with some brief remarks about selecting outplacement consultants and the type of relationship we at Right Associates believe it is important to develop with our clients. In selecting consultants, it is important to find people who have considerable training and experience in developing jobs, in tailoring programs to client needs, who offer technological support, who establish performance criteria against which outplacement services can be judged, and who have the ability to work with your organization to do outplacement. I have already talked about Right Associates' abilities to do job development and its practice of tailoring programs to clients. We also set baseline metrics against which we can evaluate our programs for each organizational client. For example, we measure job development—how many leads come in and how many people get interviewed as a result. We also set measures for the performance of our center facilitators, workshop use and usefulness, relevance of workshop content, daily center usage, and so forth. We can add to these measures to meet the specific needs of an organization. Right Associates also has the organizational consulting expertise to work with our clients from the beginning of a restructuring or downsizing. For example, we can begin assisting with internal communications before the rumor mills get started. We can start the outplacement orientation process and work with survivors early on. We can help people begin the mental reframing and getting over the emotional hurdles that go along with the new employment contract. The military, believe me, does not have monopoly on a workforce that believes their jobs are an entitlement.
Finishing up, a very wise career development professor I had in graduate school said that he always gave open-book tests because life is an open-book test. I do not know all the answers, but I do subscribe to the open-book theory. I can put you in touch with people who do have answers or know where they can be found.
Ellen R. Jackson
Resource Link Director, Corporate Human Resources Organization, AT&T
Right now AT&T is making headlines daily for its restructuring efforts. Today I'd like to tell you the rest of the story. I support an organization within AT&T called Resource Link, and I'd like to focus on this organization in my remarks this afternoon. Until very recently, I have supported AT&T's outplacement centers. We have seven of these nationwide, and over the past 4 years they have serviced about 25,000 people. Quite frankly, any comments I would make regarding these centers would just be echoing what we've already heard.
I need to give you some background on AT&T in order for you to
understand the role Resource Link plays in the company. Currently AT&T is going through what we call a trivestiture. We are spinning off major pieces of our business, and this requires dramatic restructuring. Our mission, however, remains the same: to be the best at bringing the world's people together and give them access to one another anytime, anywhere. Our environment has changed dramatically with technological advances and changes in market regulation. Just two weeks ago, President Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act, which we anticipate will open up competition for us that we cannot right now really fathom.
Nevertheless, many of the downsizing and outplacement practices we put in place in 1991 when we acquired NCR and began restructuring are still in place and have paid off. At that time, we anticipated not only major redundancies in our workforce, but also a need for more flexible employment arrangements that would help our workforce balance work and lifestyle needs and better accommodate cycles in labor demand.
Downsizing and outplacement planning went hand in hand with our thinking about restructuring. With regard to our internal labor markets, we have implemented a host of practices, including selected hiring freezes and reskilling efforts (managed jointly with the Communication Workers and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) and opened seven freestanding career centers with satellite locations. These centers and their satellites open and close in response to outplacement needs. Center services are available for all departing employees, from executives to mailroom clerks.
We also established a number of programs that were designed to ''buffer'' demand cycles in our internal labor markets. For example, one of these programs is what we call a Special Leave of Absence Program (SELOA). The reasoning behind this programs is, "we do not need these folks today, but we may need them in a year or two." The SELOA program allows employees to volunteer to take up to 2 years leave of absence (in 6-month increments). AT&T will pay benefits during this absence and will reimburse tuition, following the same reimbursement rules that apply for all employees. You are guaranteed a job back at the end of the SELOA. We bridge accruals of pensions and seniority if employees come back, but not if they don't. The only restriction on employees who do not return is that they cannot go to work directly for one of our competitors. Thus far, nearly 5,000 people have taken advantage of this program. We lose about 40 percent of the employees who go on SELOA, but the others return refreshed and revitalized. We view the program as paying off in reduced severance pay, as a buffer, and as a means of showing employees that we care.
Resource Link, the organization that I direct, was conceived as another way to buffer the volatility of internal labor market demand. It allows us to maintain access to talent in which we have previously invested. We looked around and saw that we were already contracting services at the cost of more like $1 billion than $1 million. We also saw that there were definite matches between internal labor surpluses and the skills being contracted. Resource Link was designed to offer surplus employees a chance to offer their skills on a contract basis within AT&T. It is a business within a business. Resource Link runs as a P&L center with profit, customer satisfaction, and growth objectives. We have to be competitive because there is no requirement that AT&T customers choose us. Our profits are paid back to our clients as rebates.
Entry into Resource Link works like this: surplus employees can volunteer for Resource Link, but we also have to select them. We don't take all surplus employees, nor do all surplus employees volunteer. The point of entry into Resource Link is one of the career centers. So you have to have been given a 90-day notification and be enrolled in a career center in order to volunteer for Resource Link. We select about 10 to 15 percent of those who apply. People in Resource Link retain their AT&T pay once they have shown that they can get contract work within the company. There are two organizations within Resource Link—one for professional and managerial skills and the other (called Skills Match) for clerical and blue-collar skills. The personnel practices differ somewhat between the two. For example, Skills Match rules were negotiated with labor unions. Anyone at risk of being outplaced in clerical or blue-collar jobs is automatically enrolled in Skills Match and paid market rates for comparable contract workers.
Resource Link has been very successful. Last year we made $4 million profit and had an 85 percent contract renewal rate from our AT&T customers. We currently have 850 to 900 people or associates in our Resource Link talent pool. Just as important as our profit figures is that we believe our employees see Resource Link as highly visible evidence of our commitment to them. We are leaving no stone unturned in trying to find employment opportunities. At the same time, Resource Link makes more tangible the notion of the new employment contract. It is one way of reframing our psychological contract with our employees and responding to their requests to balance work and lifestyle demands with more flexibility.
Anne L. Messenger
Director, Employment Transition Center, Lockheed Martin
I plan to focus on my experience on best practices in outplacement. But I'll begin by recommending, no insisting, that you read two books. I am a reader; my office bookshelves are filled with books on outplacement how-tos and change management. The two books I am recommending have had the most powerful impact on me out of all those I have read. One is David Noer's book, Healing the Wounds. He begins the book with a powerful analogy for downsizing organizations. He describes a loving family (a mother, a father, and four children) who gather every morning for breakfast to discuss their lives. One morning the father and mother come to the table looking anxious and announce that they are suffering some financial difficulties and two of the children will have to go. The next morning the family meets for breakfast and two of the children are gone. There is no discussion of their absence; instead the parents talk about the picnic planned for Saturday and the need to do homework on time, and so forth. The relevance of this story for organizational survivors of downsizing is obvious; I don't need to elaborate.
The second book I recommend is William Bridges' Job Shift. I believe this book crystallized for me over a decade's worth of experience. The premise of the book is that work will always be with us. It is not going away. What is going away is the job, with its finite edges—9 to 5, five days a week, at your office, factory floor, or desk. There are lots of ways to make money if each of us can figure out how to do this, do it well, and, hopefully, do it happily.
Now to my experience. I have been doing outplacement for 11 years. Ten years ago there was no such word as outplacement—we had words like dislocation, layoffs, firing, termination. Now we have in addition to these, downsizing, rightsizing, reengineering, and outplacement. Outplacement is now a billion dollar industry. People have always been let go from their jobs in good ways and in bad ways. However, today the repeated media coverage makes even good layoffs sound bad. This is bad for the people being laid off and for the people who stay.
I have become a reluctant expert in the field of outplacement. When I began, there were no rules or guidelines. I was executive director of the Syracuse Onandaga County Private Industry Council. These councils oversee federally funded job training programs. Major layoffs in our small community hit hard, and our council was able to pull together and do a wonderful job of outplacement. We solicited and got federal funds for a worker reemployment center for the area, which was very successful in helping laid-off workers find new jobs. Today, I work with a major defense corporation that has gone through tremendous changes and ac
quisitions over the last 4 years. The contrast between doing outplacement with the private industry council and this relatively rich corporation is startling. I feel now as though I have comparatively unlimited support for the outplacement programs I want to offer.
Now, my views on outplacement. In my mind there are three major outplacement "musts." In outlining these, I am assuming that you have support from your top management to do outplacement—that is the first and foremost must. I am also assuming that you want to do a good job of outplacement, that interest in outplacement is not just lip service.
The first outplacement must: you must have crackerjack people involved in your outplacement efforts—intelligent, street smart, people smart, energetic, sensitive, gentle, but also tough enough to tell people what they need to do to get a job. You need people who can tell an engineer or a high-level manager to stop working on a resume for eight hours a day and get out on the streets to network and deliver the resume. I am firm about hiring outplacement center staff with a sense of humor and personal experience with layoffs. In addition to an excellent staff, you need quick access to people such as employee assistance program counselors, security people for protection, and charity people for social and welfare services. This is all to say that people have a lot more going on in their lives than the layoff. You may have people going through a divorce, or someone whose wife just found out she has cancer, or another who is suicidal or who decides to get a gun and start driving. You have to have resources waiting in the wings to help deal with such experiences.
The second outplacement must is connectedness—with your community, among your center staff, with your immediate clients at the center, and with the organization paying for the center services. There are several things that contribute to connectedness. One is that the center staff be trained, preferably at the center where they will work and with the people they will be working with. It is important that staff like one another, interact well together, and have a sense of humor about what the day brings. You do not want your center to have the atmosphere of a morgue. The center should also look good physically. This helps both staff and clients feel good about using it; it makes them feel important.
Another way to achieve connectedness is to continually market your center and maintain good relations with people in the community. This includes not only agencies like the United Way and Job Training Partnership Act offices, but also all the potential employers and training institutions. At my center we have a steady influx of community people coming in to do workshops, seminars, and so forth.
Finally, to achieve connectedness with clients, it is important to maintain communications. For example, we send newsletters to the center client's families. If the staff doesn't see someone at the center for several
days, we'll give them a call. We use former clients and current clients in center activities whenever possible. We are in the middle of a move right now—transferring center services to another location—and I am using several client drafters without current jobs to help with the logistics and facilities planning. We have parties and ask former clients to come. Clients need this contact in order to stay motivated through the inevitable rejections they'll get in any job search.
My third and last outplacement must: you need to have good services and resources at the center. In my view, even more important than material resources is establishing a sense of place. The folks using your center have just lost their jobs. They need a place to socialize, a place to come, a place to work. We work hard to make people feel that the center is their new workplace where their job is to find a job. We are firm about sending the message that we are not going to do this job for them, and we expect them to do it full time, but when they leave the center they should get on with their lives. Go bowling, play with your kids. Then come back next day and do your job again fresh.
Workshops are an important service. They not only convey information but also provide a structure for the job search. We have an introductory workshop, and then a host of different workshops that people can select. We also insist that everyone go through counseling for at least one hour. The most important workshop in my view, after the initial introduction and counseling, is the one devoted to preparing a resume. Somehow, this helps people put all their jumble of ideas in some order and enhances self-esteem. Self-assessment is next, especially assessment designed to describe skills in language that prospective employers can understand. I guarantee you that everyone has transferrable skills. Links to training institutions or agencies such as the Job Training Partnership Act program are important resources for any center. Other important resources are word processing, clerical support, message services, and so forth.
To sum up, I told you I was going to share what I've learned in my 11 years of outplacement experience. I guess one of the most important things is that you can teach someone how to search for a job. I really think that is kind of mechanical. Teaching people to change their mental set is much more difficult. You can tell people about the new employment contract and the job shift. You can tell them what this means in terms of marketing themselves, upgrading skills, dealing with more financial unpredictability. But getting to this new mental set is hard. Three and one-half years ago I became a contractor. I went from a regular paycheck to a paycheck that I thought was enormous until I paid my first quarterly estimated tax. People need to hear about the new employment contract often and as early on as possible.
Anthony S. Papalia
Director, Student Development and Counseling, State University of New York, Cortland, and Outplacement Specialist, Smith Corona Corporation
I want to share some general principles about outplacement that I have learned in 20 years of workplace experience. I will focus on strategies that have not been emphasized by earlier presenters. For example, organizations must put in place an increased security system during major downsizing. Increased security should not only be placed at the main work facilities but also extended to the homes of key executives. This is not being an alarmist. There is a wide range of reaction to terminations, including violence.
The manner in which the initial announcement of termination is handled is important. Adequate support and security should be on location in advance of the termination announcement. Arrangement should be made to notify people who are absent from work about termination at the same time everyone else hears about it. Individuals in the workplace may become ill or disoriented at the news of termination and may require medical attention or transportation home.
Employees should not be told individually by their supervisor of their termination. Most supervisors are not equipped to deal with the diverse reactions that are likely to occur. Impacted workers should be gathered into manageable groups in which a brief prepared statement is read. The statement should be prepared and rehearsed well in advance of the presentation. At the conclusion of the statement, direction and information on outplacement services should be provided orally and in writing. Ideally employees should be paid for their initial outplacement attendance, generally a 2-or 3-day period.
If employees are entitled to a 60-day notice under the Worker Adjustment and Notification Act (WARN), human resource benefits specialists should meet with workers individually or in small groups to elaborate verbally and in writing on all worker rights and benefits, including health benefits, retirement options, severance packages, and financial planning.
It is important to recognize that people will be numb after they are told about the loss of their jobs. They are likely to forget most of what they were told in the termination announcement, thus the need to present the information in a variety of formats.
If education or retraining benefits are available to the dislocated workers, planning and counseling should begin as early as possible. Some education programs, such as nursing, offer entry into the program only once a year. Most higher education programs lack flexibility in program start up. Entry is usually limited to the beginning of an academic semes
ter. The use of education fairs to inform workers on programs, options, and deadlines has proved very useful.
Individuals enrolled in short-term retraining programs were less successful in sustaining themselves in the workplace than those individuals enrolled in education programs of a year or two in duration. Training becomes obsolete, whereas education gives flexibility and stability.
Long-established firms engaged in downsizing or closure will surface large numbers of employees without high school diplomas. This became apparent in the Smith-Corona relocation to Mexico. Many dislocated employees felt they had a job for life and saw no need to complete a high school diploma. General Education Development classes were conducted for a 2-year period to provide dislocated workers the opportunity to earn a high school diploma and to qualify for retraining or further education programs.
In rural settings, the community needs to be involved in outplacement. Community involvement around the Smith Corona shutdown was intense. After community rallies aimed at preventing plant closure were unsuccessful, a meeting of over 25 community resource people was convened at the Smith Corona plant to form an outplacement steering committee. It included bankers, debt counselors, college personnel, mental health specialists, hospital representatives, public utility representatives, Chamber of Commerce executives, local employers, state Department of Labor specialists, area private industry councils, and area educational and social service members. This committee mobilized community resources to assist the dislocated workers in a variety of ways. Financial and debt counseling services were particularly critical in helping employees deal with large severance payments, mortgage refinancing, utility payments, and retirement planning. Alternative medical coverages were of great concern along with their affordability. Families with children in college needed special assistance to deal with college costs and the adjustment of financial aid programs in progress.
The outplacement steering committee coordinated with government agencies to get all the dislocation and training assistance possible for workers leaving Smith Corona. The committee conducted surveys of both departing workers and local employers to identify job opportunities and match them with worker skills. Both training and job fairs were sponsored as a part of committee efforts to introduce workers to local resources for information on jobs and training. Smith Corona also worked closely with the state unemployment service. Their network of job opportunities helped direct the dislocated workers in their job search outside of the community. This was especially important in finding jobs for hourly workers who generally had less experience in searching for jobs, less interest in relocating, and more need for skill upgrading than many pro
fessional and managerial workers. The expertise of Job Service Trade Adjustment Assistance and TRA specialists enabled workers to receive over $1.5 million in education and retraining benefits that resulted in a better trained workforce to attract new industries.
Dislocated workers with high skill levels had interest in starting small business operations. Assistance was rendered by the Small Business Administration and the Senior Corps of Retired Executives. The Senior Corps of Retired Executives offered information and consultation at no cost to individuals seeking to start their own businesses.
In closing I would stress it is essential to help dislocated workers establish and maintain a sense of balance in their lives. Critical incident stress debriefing sessions proved to be effective in helping workers establish balance in their life while working through the grief of job loss.