Organisational change, whether prompted by mergers, new competitors, economic pressures, or unforeseen events like pandemics, often leads to reorganisation and downsizing. Downsizing may involve the outplacement of individuals or entire teams. From the perspective of the organisation, downsizing and outplacement are measures taken to maintain its fitness in the ever-evolving business landscape. However, when outplacement is mishandled, it can undermine the organisation’s overall health and reputation.

Part 1 of our story focused on the detrimental effects experienced by employers due to weak outplacement strategies. Part 2 delved into the experiences of the individuals who were outplaced, illustrating the consequences when employers fail to provide strategic support during the transition.

Now, let’s turn our attention to the “survivors”—those who remain in their roles after witnessing their colleagues’ departures. These individuals play a vital role in keeping the business functioning. How do they respond to their colleagues’ job loss?

Shaping Better Stories Within Your Organization

The stories of how employers handle outplacement are shared eagerly and resolutely among families, on social media platforms like LinkedIn, in the job marketplace, employee feedback forms, and even within the organization itself. By investing in quality outplacement support, employers influence the narratives that will circulate among the workforce survivors.

Research shows that survivors often experience feelings of guilt for retaining their jobs while their friends and colleagues have been let go. Although management may reassure them that it was an isolated change event, survivors may still harbor concerns about their own job security. They begin quietly exploring other opportunities, knowing that their talent is sought after elsewhere. A failure to address survivor concerns can lead to the departure of top talent.

A comprehensive outplacement program includes a “survivor management” component. Managers are trained to deliver the news of workforce changes while demonstrating that outplacement support is in place to facilitate a smooth career transition. This approach heightens managers’ awareness of the remaining team’s fragility and emphasises the need for clear and consistent communication. Connecting with survivors, providing support as they adjust to the new structure, and sharing information about the success of ex-colleagues finding new roles all contribute to improved team morale, better dynamics, and increased productivity.

Going the Extra Mile

Though letting employees go carries costs, employers must decide whether to invest extra efforts to ensure successful transitions. Success means affected employees quickly find new roles or careers, survivors see that their former colleagues are well-supported, and the organisation continues on its new path without negatively impacting its brand. Professional outplacement support empowers former employees to take control of their careers, adapt to changing market conditions, and secure new roles more swiftly.

The Story Continues…

Organisations aspire to be “Employers of Choice,” known for their responsibility, care, and desirability as workplaces. The reality is that most organisations undergo changes, often accompanied by downsizing. Providing separated employees with professional outplacement support sends goodwill in vital directions—to the outplaced individuals, their families, and the survivors. This support boosts the productivity and solidarity of the remaining workforce, knowing their former colleagues have been looked after.

In the competitive job marketplace, an employer’s reputation is paramount for attracting top talent. By offering professional outplacement support, organisations enhance their reputation and set themselves up for a successful future. Evidence shows that well-executed outplacement strategies, backed by effective communication programs, benefit all stakeholders—the employers, the individuals transitioning to new careers, and the survivors who are the foundation of the business’s productivity and future success.


To learn more about outplacement, connect with Merran.