Academic journal article Indian Journal of Industrial Relations

Outplacement Revisited

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Industrial Relations

Outplacement Revisited

Article excerpt


Today's world of work is not only about paying salaries, incentives, welfare facilities and other things but also is going that extra mile to help people who are going-to-be laid-off or are no more on the rolls of the company. It involves money when it comes to helping people who are no more going to be with the organization. Are we looking at only the money part or something more than that? When an organization asks people to leave, the 'news' itself comes as a blow to them. In a place like India where there is no unemployment insurance and the society's acceptance of unemployment of a person is low this definitely comes as a loss difficult to bear. Adding to this is the stigma associated with job loss in the Indian society. At this point if the employer is not willing to take any responsibility it could aggravate problems in the society. It is at this moment, that the employer plays a very crucial role in helping the employee to cope with the loss. For today's workforce, especially in the private sector, to the already existing performance pressures, added are the woes of external factors like slowdown etc. Suddenly the laid-off employees find themselves faced with new challenges of choosing and preparing themselves for a new career. Providing help at this juncture will enable the employee to get the strength to regain equilibrium in life.

The Global Scenario

With globalization i.e. removal of barriers to free trade and the closer integration of national economies people all over the world have benefitted. But with the integration, anything happening anywhere in the world, affects other parts too. One of the devastating effects could be downsizing.

As Meyer and Shadle (1994) put it, we have always had people lose their jobs involuntarily through what has become known as incompetence, immoral or irresponsible behavior, or social incompatibility. What is still relatively new, however, is the increase in 'social degree' dismissals. These are dismissals resulting from the global competition, technological advances, improved productivity, and corporate restructuring. In industrialized countries, the pain of layoffs is acknowledged and somewhat ameliorated by the safety net of unemployment insurance. In less developed countries, the unemployed workers typically do not become a public charge, since there are seldom unemployment insurance schemes. There can be large social cost nonetheless--manifested, in its worst forms, by urban violence, increased crime, and social and political unrest. But even in the absence of these problems, there are huge costs of unemployment. They include widespread anxiety even among workers who have managed to keep their jobs, a broader sense of alienation, additional financial burdens on family members who manage to remain employed and the withdrawal of children from school to help support the family. These kinds of social costs endure long past the immediate loss of a job (Stiglitz, 2008).

Even if the victims have to leave the organization, a fair treatment towards them affects the perception of the survivors to a great extent. A just treatment towards the victims goes a long way in the survivor's perception of the management as sensitive.

Outplacement through History

According to Papalexandris (1996), "outplacement" is a term, which appeared in the US in the early 1970s, is used to describe the efforts made by the downsizing company to help its redundant employees find a new job. Professional outplacement counseling as an organized profession is of fairly recent origin, developing within the past 20 years, within the aerospace industry. But it is being added to many employee benefits packages, as another form of employee assistance, which ranges from mental therapy, drug and alcohol rehabilitation to divorce assistance and child care. The basic concept of concern for employee welfare can be traced back hundreds of years, to Europe and the Far East (Camden, 1982). …

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