- Employers are offering more generous severance packages and job placement assistance to departing workers in an effort to be competitive in the labor market and promote a work-friendly culture, according to the results of a new RiseSmart survey. Forty-four percent of companies polled said their organizations offer severance benefits to all workers, representing a 6% increase from 2017.
- Nearly half (48%) of the survey's 1,500 HR professionals cited the need to take care of employees and company culture as reasons for offering severance and job placement support, but that support is generally for a short period of time. A third of all respondents provide between one and three months of severance, and a fifth offer between three and six months. Respondents also reported offering various other benefits to involuntarily separated workers including financial planning, health benefits or COBRA, retirement benefits or planning, bonuses or commissions, and outplacement services.
- Online brand reputation may be an important consideration when choosing to up severance benefits. A majority (70%) of respondents said they monitor company rating sites such as Indeed and Glassdoor to evaluate workers' comments, and 38% said they saw a rise in negative reviews on social media after a layoff.
It's perhaps not surprising that employers want to take better care of departing workers, given they realize social can make or break external perceptions of their company cultures. That's backed up by survey data: only 1 in 5 jobseekers will apply for a job at a poorly rated company, a 2017 CareerArc study found. According to a 2018 Monster survey, most respondents passed over companies with less than a three-star rating, on a five-star scale.
Next to monetary compensation — which remains the number one incentive for jobseekers — benefits and perks that workers value, such as financial planning, paid family leave, development opportunities and flexible work options can help maintain an employer's reputation as a good place to work. The damage a negative reputation can do to a company's brand takes considerable time to undo. HR can make life easier for both the departing employee and the employer by having a offboarding strategy in place that prioritizes respect.
HR can show empathy during the process in many ways. Craig Johnson, a partner at Mercer, recently told HR Dive that written and face-to-face communication with workers is just one example. "Face-to-face communication, although becoming increasingly rare in many companies, may be a better forum in which to share change-based messaging," Johnson said. He noted that some companies opt to conduct "listening tours" during disruptive periods such as layoffs to express concern for workers' wellbeing.