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Navigating Layoffs with Outplacement Services: A Guide for HR Leaders

Seven Ways Outplacement Partners Help HR Leaders Through Transition 


Layoffs are an inevitable part of business cycles, often resulting from economic downturns, company restructuring or strategic pivots. For HR leaders, the responsibility of managing layoffs with empathy and efficiency can be challenging. It’s no wonder HR and people leaders often get layoffs wrong.

Research shows that layoffs frequently have detrimental, long-term impacts on departing employees, retained staff and the organization itself. Exiting workers face potential psychological trauma, retained employees may experience lower morale and engagement, and the organization must contend with numerous—and sometimes hidden—risks.

HR and people leaders often overlook and underestimate the costs of layoffs. These costs typically include lowered employee engagement, reduced innovation, higher turnover, a tarnished reputation and lost institutional knowledge. As Harvard Business School professor Sandra Sucher explains, it can take years for companies to bounce back from such transitions.

This is where a best-in-class outplacement partner can be vital. Outplacement firms specialize in helping transitioning employees find new job opportunities while providing critical support to HR leaders throughout the layoff process. With outplacement services, HR and people leaders can better assess and avoid risks while successfully navigating their people and organization through challenging times.


Here are seven ways in which partnering with an outplacement firm can help HR leaders more effectively lead their organizations through layoffs and business transformations.

Expert Guidance, Thought Leadership and Strategic Planning

One of the primary benefits of working with an outplacement partner is the expert guidance they provide. Outplacement firms have extensive experience managing layoffs and can help HR and people leaders plan and execute the process smoothly. This includes developing a clear timeline, identifying key steps, ensuring compliance with legal requirements and providing guidance on compassionately delivering notifications. By leveraging an outplacement partner's expertise and thought leadership, HR leaders can avoid common pitfalls and ensure that the layoff process is handled professionally and efficiently.

Develop a Compassionate Outplacement Approach

Layoffs are not just business decisions; they significantly impact people’s lives. HR leaders must approach layoffs with empathy and compassion; after all, employees’ well-being and the organization’s reputation depend on it. An outplacement partner can advise and help the organization develop a compassionate strategy. This compassionate approach often includes offering comprehensive support services, tailored career coaching and perhaps career transition workshops and webinars. Personalized meetings to deliver notifications and discuss the layoff process, severance packages and next steps can help employees feel respected and valued during this difficult time, enhancing morale and limiting the psychological impacts of job loss.

Personalized Support and Career Coaching for Departing Employees

World-class partners offer comprehensive, personalized outplacement services for exiting employees. These include career coaching, resume writing assistance, interview preparation, social media branding guidance and job search strategies. By providing these services, HR leaders can demonstrate their commitment to helping affected employees transition to new opportunities. This not only helps employees move forward more quickly but also reflects positively on the company’s reputation, both internally and externally.

Maintaining Morale and Productivity during Transition

The effects of layoffs extend beyond the individuals directly affected. Remaining employees may experience increased workloads, job insecurity and decreased morale, thereby impacting engagement and efficiency. An outplacement partner can assist HR leaders in maintaining morale and productivity by providing clear communication strategies and support resources for outgoing workers. By addressing the concerns of remaining employees and fostering a positive work environment, HR leaders can help ensure that the organization remains productive and resilient during the transition period.

Ensuring Legal Compliance

Layoffs are fraught with legal complexities, and non-compliance can lead to costly lawsuits and reputational damage. Outplacement firms are well-versed in employment laws and regulations, and they can help HR leaders navigate the legal aspects of layoffs. This includes ensuring that proper notice is given, severance packages are fair and all legal requirements are met. By partnering with a trusted, experienced outplacement firm, HR leaders can reduce the risk of legal issues and ensure that the layoff process is conducted within the bounds of the law.

Enhancing the Company’s Reputation

How a company handles layoffs can have a lasting impact on its reputation. By partnering with an outplacement firm, HR and people leaders can demonstrate their commitment to treating employees with respect and dignity, even during difficult times. Providing outplacement services shows that the organization cares about its employees’ futures and is willing to invest in their career transitions. This can enhance the company’s reputation as an employer of choice and attract top talent in the future.

Focus on Talent Development for Long-Term Rebuilding

After the layoffs are completed, HR and people leaders should focus on rebuilding and moving the organization forward. This involves reassessing the company’s goals, strategies and workforce needs. Investing in training and development for remaining employees can help fill skill gaps and prepare the organization for future growth. Many high-quality outplacement firms also specialize in career and talent development. Continuing the partnership with talent development services will help foster a positive work culture, thereby enhancing employee morale and engagement while ensuring the organization thrives.


In conclusion, navigating layoffs is one of the most challenging tasks an HR and people leader can face. However, partnering with an outplacement firm can provide the support and expertise needed to manage the process effectively. From personalized outplacement services for affected employees to ensuring legal compliance and maintaining morale, outplacement partners offer a holistic solution that benefits both the organization and its employees. By leveraging the services of an outplacement firm, HR and people leaders can navigate layoffs with confidence, compassion and efficiency, ultimately leading to a smoother transition and a stronger organization.

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To learn more tips and strategies for leading your organization through layoffs with a compassionate, human-centered approach, sign up for Right Management’s five-part email course, “Real Lives, Real Transitions”. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to discover more today!


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