Gratitude

At this time of year, our thoughts turn to gratitude or thanks for all we have. Let’s face it, our worst day is still 100 percent better than the days of people in a large part of the world. We have roofs over our heads, are warm and dry, and are looking forward to a big meal with family and friends on Thursday. Those reading this obviously have some sort of technology and access to the internet, so that puts you even farther ahead!

I want to take a few minutes to talk about gratitude for your job. If you are employed, you should be grateful. If you have a job you love, you should be even more grateful. There is nothing better than looking forward to going to work every morning, feeling that you are fulfilled, happy and making a difference. If you have a great team and fabulous coworkers, even better. You must be truly thankful if you have great people to work with at a job you love.

What about those who don’t have a job? A large part of my business is career transition and outplacement, helping those who have been separated from their jobs find new ones. It’s hard to be grateful when you have been laid off or fired, especially this time of year. The excitement and joy of the holidays is difficult to enjoy when you worry about making a living. However, there is a silver lining and a few things to remember.

  • This won’t last forever. You WILL get another job. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but it will happen. If you have an outplacement coach, it will probably happen sooner. You will survive, you have support, and be grateful that this too shall pass. Look forward.
  • You are very likely to get an even better job. Take a hard look at what you have now left behind. Was it perfect? Probably not. You have been given the gift of finding something better; a place that more closely matches your ideal. Be grateful for that gift.
  • You will find your best friends and supporters. The people who truly care about you will do everything in their power to help you. Reach out and ask them. Accept their help with gratitude.

It’s very easy to forget how fortunate you are, even if you don’t have a job right this minute. If you have a warm place to live, food on the table, and someone who cares, you are one of the lucky ones. Be thankful for today, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.

Outplacement for the Older Worker

As companies ponder downsizing, they usually look toward reducing labor costs. This means the biggest salaries, which encompass the most experienced, longest tenured employees. You may believe someone with years of relevant experience and great job history would be able to easily find another job. That is rarely the case. In reality, experienced 50-plus workers have vastly more trouble finding a new place than a relatively inexperienced 30-year-old.

Hard business decisions must be made at times, and the reality is that salaries and benefits are the largest expense for any company. When downsizing must occur, that’s where it happens. Logically, the biggest expenses – the highest-paid employees – are first.

We always advocate for giving any separated employee outplacement and career transition assistance. In the case of older employees, career counseling and job search support is crucial for several reasons.

  • Like it or not, ageism is rampant in the business world. Companies use various methods such as graduation dates, years of tenure, or job history to piece together information to estimate an applicant’s age. They assume a person will require more money, a higher title, or will be unsatisfied in a lesser position than previously held, even before discussing these issues in an interview. In fact, many older workers have “been there, done that” and will be very happy, loyal and productive in a position for which an HR screener may decide they are “overqualified” without a conversation.
  • The longer a separated worker is unemployed, the more it costs you, and an older worker could be unemployed for much longer as a result of the factors listed above. Unemployment insurance is a significant cost to any business, and the more being paid out, the higher your costs. In addition, if the separated employee decides to bring legal action against you, your legal costs plus settlement costs can be very high. Those who are provided support are much less likely to bring legal action against a former employer.
  • The emotional cost to an older worker can be severe. This is a person who worked diligently and successfully for many years, had the respect of coworkers and supervisors, and is now separated from what may have been a very large part of his or her identity. He or she has been out of the job market for some time, and will need some kind of support to re-enter.

Many companies offering outplacement will offer only very limited support, such as resume review or coaching for 30 days. Any older, separated employee can tell you that is not enough! A job search for a person over 50 will take longer than 30 days, and that person will need encouragement and coaching during that time.

When making the tough decision to separate your older worker, remember the additional challenges he or she will face and offer an appropriate career transition program. It’s the right thing to do, for the worker and for your business.

Travel or Trouble? Career transition goes both ways

People leave jobs. Sometimes voluntarily, sometimes not. A career transition is always an emotional roller coaster, even if it is the employee’s idea to leave, but more so when the separation is involuntary or when the voluntary separation is a result of job dissatisfaction of some kind.

What happens during that emotional upheaval? An employee leaving voluntarily has some reason for doing so, and will likely share that information with friends, family and coworkers during the transition. A few of those reasons…

  • Better hours – spin that into “I had to work too many hours, I didn’t have flexibility, I couldn’t take off for my child’s school program, …”;
  • More money – the story is your company didn’t pay enough to meet needs;
  • More supportive environment – turns into “I never felt valued, my boss didn’t listen to me…”

Whatever the reasons they have, even employees leaving under their own power can cause bad PR among their friends and acquaintances. If that is the case, imagine what damage a fired or laid-off employee could do! Given the digital world we live in today, the bad news can spread from friends to acquaintances to friends of friends and beyond in the blink of an eye. Stories will be embellished, small incidents magnified, misunderstandings become truth. Trouble!

Be ready when you need to separate an employee with a good career transition coach or outplacement provider. An objective third party can help ease the transition pain and refocus the negative energy into something positive that will help them travel forward into a new position that will hopefully be THE job they were meant to have. Finding THE job will help fade the memories of the past and open new and exciting highways to the future, limiting the trouble that could be caused during the search.

The bottom line is that separated employees who have career coaching or outplacement assistance move on to the next opportunity faster and more positively than those who don’t. If you must separate from an employee, do it in the best way possible – help them travel, not trouble!

 

Taking the curve successfully; a new career awaits

You have just been told there will be layoffs, big ones. Probably you. That understandably strikes terror in most people’s hearts, and you start thinking about where you can get another job like the one you have now. After all, you have a set of skills that perfectly fits what you have been doing, so looking for something just like it seems logical.

Is that approach truly logical, or even realistic? If people with a strictly defined set of skills and abilities just like yours are being laid off, how likely is it that other jobs just like yours are out there waiting? Maybe it’s a great time to really examine your work, job satisfaction, and options for the future.

Many, many people get a job early on in their careers that isn’t exactly what they wanted, but it’s close enough and it works out fine. Another opportunity comes up, and it is even a bit farther from what you really wanted in the beginning, but it’s a next step up from the job you took, so it works out, too. A couple more promotions or job changes like that, and you can look back and see how far off course you have gotten from where you originally intended. Maybe that’s ok, too, for a while. Then, through no fault of your own, the layoff happens. Where do you go from here?

It isn’t unrealistic to go back to your original goal, get back on the road you started out to travel. I live near an old stretch of Route 66, the original “Mother Road” running from Chicago to Los Angeles. The old road has been replaced in places by a new road that runs pretty much parallel to the old original road. There is one spot, though, where the new road veers away from the old, in a place marked with a sign, “Dead Man’s Curve.” When the new road was built, it was moved so that the old and obviously dangerous curve was bypassed, and the road straightened out. That curve is not unlike the curves we all take in our career path. Losing a job may mean you have the opportunity to straighten out the curves and get back on the road you began.

Straightening out that road may take some research, extra work, education, and determination. If the original career goal you had is still something you want and are willing to work for, now can be an ideal time. To make those first steps easier, an experienced career coach can help you decide what you really want and the best way to get there. Especially if you have been in the same job for a while, you will need help to find out what the next steps should be, how to prepare, and how to land in the place you want to be.

Don’t go alone around that curve, get the help you need from a coach to navigate it successfully into a new, better career.

Still the Waters

You decide to let an employee go. For whatever reason, it’s a difficult decision and one that affects someone’s life. You want to do the right things for the right reasons for both your business and for the employee; reduce your unemployment costs, lessen the likelihood of legal action, help the employee get a new start.

Your decision may not have considered what’s going on with the remaining employees. They are watching, talking, and probably fearing they are next to go. The upheaval caused by separation has a profound effect on those left behind, and you need to do all you can to calm the situation and keep the waves from turning to a tsunami.

One of the easiest and best ways to do the right thing for the separated employee, as well as those who remain, is to provide outplacement support. Outplacement helps the separated employee get back on his feet and start taking positive steps forward to the next opportunity. Outplacement is proven to get people back to work faster, often in a better fitting position. It benefits your business by reducing the costs associated with separation. But it also assures the remaining employees that their friend is going to be ok, is getting the help he needs, and will be back to work as soon as possible. It shows that, while making the difficult decision to separate someone, you care enough to make sure everyone is supported when in need.

Don’t let your current employees worry about their friend, build fear, and imagine the worst. Show them you are doing the right thing and help your former employee land in a great place.