If you scroll through Fortune’s annual rating of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, you’ll see a long list of inarguably appealing perks. The nearly 45,000 U.S. employees of perennially top-ranked Google, for instance, can take advantage of a wide array of benefits, which include everything from the use of onsite fitness centers to paid time off for volunteering and college tuition reimbursement.
But one item you won’t see mentioned in the methodology behind the rankings or in the actual write-ups of the companies themselves is outplacement. If your initial reaction to the omission of comprehensive outplacement services as a feature that defines attractive employers is a shrug of the shoulders, that’s understandable. After all, how could leaving such stellar employers be considered a benefit in the first place? But the reality is a little more complicated than that, and it’s a reality that places a very high premium on outplacement.
A Pillar of an Employee-Focused Corporate Culture
If you examine all of the perks and benefits that great employers offer their staff, there’s a common theme that unifies them: Whether it’s tuition benefits or free catered meals at work, each benefit sends the very clear message that employers care about and will support their workers.
Few benefits send that message more clearly than a comprehensive outplacement package, in addition to other transition benefits such as severance pay and a continuation of health benefits. Why? Because providing outplacement – and, importantly, being vocal and open about its availability – to everyone at a company demonstrates both an acknowledgement of the realities of the modern workplace and an unquestionable commitment to protect and nurture people while they are your employees.
Let’s face it, even employees at America’s best companies get laid off. When a company puts outplacement at the core of its benefits, employees know that if and when career transitions happen, their employer will be there to guide and support them. In many ways, that creates an attractive, employee-centric culture in a way that Friday night happy hours and ping pong tables never can.
A Benefit Not Just For Employees
Working for a company where employees know they will be taken care of should they need to leave is obviously a big benefit. And it’s one that will arguably reward employers who offer these important services even more than the employees who utilize outplacement.
Employees who genuinely feel supported will become the sort of invaluable brand ambassadors that help employers become recognized as a great place to work. Just as those who feel disgruntled with the way an employer treated them on their way out of a job will talk to their friends and take to social media to air their grievances, people who feel the opposite often report positive experiences. This vital word of mouth is what helps companies continually attract top talent. And in cyclical industries, like retail and oil and gas, the ability to attract skilled workers back despite being let go due to previous economic factors will be made easier when any past separation was amicable and smooth.
Companies that help employees who are leaving find new jobs will also be rewarded with stronger employee retention. After all, remaining workers will be carefully watching how their former colleagues and friends are treated during a layoff for a hint of what they can expect in the event they must go through the same process.
There’s also the simple economics of outplacement: When employers help former employees find new jobs quickly, they reduce the cost of unemployment taxes.
Most companies understand the value of landing on a list of the best places to work. The recognition makes attracting the kind of talent they need to compete all that easier. But if you want your company to really stand out, try adding outplacement to your benefits package.