Layoffs have touched nearly every American household over the last few years according to a recent RutgersUniversity study. Nearly a quarter of Americans say they were laid off at some point during the recession or afterward. And, nearly eight in 10 say they know someone in their circle of family and friends who has lost a job.
At the same time, working virtually, banking online, paying bills online and even losing weight through online coaching is becoming more popular with Americans.
- A national study commissioned by WorldCom found that more than two-thirds of American workers work virtually.
- The Pew Research Center found that 81% of Americans who manage their household finances banked online at least once during 2012.
- Forrester Research predicts that by the end of the decade, 52% of all online households will pay their bills online.
- A study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research reported that overweight people who used web-based virtual coaches showed more commitment to improving their health than those who did not use them.
Just like these other important services, virtual career outplacement is becoming more popular. Here are the top reasons why professionals are choosing virtual career outplacement:
Learn at your convenience. Career outplacement courses are 100% web based, and are available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, and 365 days per year. You cannot beat having instant resources and support delivered to you in the comfort of your home or office.
Customize your training to your needs. Self-paced online career outplacement training programs allow you to customize your training to your unique needs and goals. You can learn at your own pace, which means you don’t need wait for an instructor or class to move on with material you are already familiar with, and, you can linger for as long as you want to fully comprehend a concept new to you. Online courses often include internet resources that let you further explore knowledge areas that are relevant to your particular career.
Learning is fun and interesting. Virtual career outplacement combines readings, graphics, audio/video, interactive exercises, and case studies to keep the learner engaged and interested in course material and meet the needs of multiple learning styles.
Eliminate travel time. Virtual career outplacement means that you don’t have to spend any of your valuable time traveling to a classroom or to meet with a coach. With the rising price of gas prices, that should be music to anyone’s ears!
Eliminates geographical boundaries. Virtual career outplacement allows learners to participate from around the globe.
Obtain vast expertise. Rather than being assigned to the one or two coaches available in a traditional office approach, virtual coaches can come from all parts of the world and have experience in numerous industries.
Privacy. Some clients prefer not to let others know they are engaged in career outplacement coaching. Virtual coaching provides a solution to those who want to keep their career coaching meetings private.
Results-oriented. You can receive virtual career coaching via phone or e-mail. Resumes, career assessment tests and custom coaching guidance are easily delivered through these mediums.
Effective services at an affordable price. Virtual career outplacement is an extremely affordable alternative to many traditional programs. It eliminates the cost of printed materials and physical offices, as well as the cost of traveling.
I am curious .. what benefits have you experienced with virtual career outplacement?
It is next to impossible to keep corporate layoffs a secret in today’s world of instant communication. Before you have shaken the hand of a departing employee, he or she could have texted, tweeted and blogged about your meeting. In Corporate American, “what happens in Vegas” doesn’t necessarily “stay in Vegas”.
When the British company, HMV, laid off some 200 employees this year, the worker in charge of their Twitter account sent out numerous tweets like “Mass execution, of loyal employees who love the brand” and “We’re tweeting live from HR where we’re all being fired. Exciting!”
When terminating employees, it’s best to show your cards instead of holding them. Rather than keeping layoffs a secret, let employees know ahead of time that layoffs are coming. And rather than keeping a termination a surprise, lay your cards on the table and provide verbal and written warnings so employees are not blindsided.
Your best bet at preventing rumors and misinformation is to provide your workers with accurate and timely information. Then, if a disgruntled employee lets the world know what happened to him or her, you stand a better chance that they will use the information you armed them with instead of venting.
Once an employee is let go, though, no matter what your HR policies state, former employees can exercise their First Amendment right to free speech as long as what they say is not a lie. This means that if a former employee states their truthful opinions, perspectives and experiences about a person or a company, they are within their legal rights to do so. On the other hand, if a former employee intentionally and maliciously lies about you or your company, you can sue them. And vice versa.
Since ex-employees can exercise free speech, how can you prevent them from contacting all of the people they met while working for you? Here’s one way: if they signed a non-compete or non-solicitation agreement, you may be able to require that they delete all of their customer, vendor and co-worker contacts.
Rolodexes may be the property of the company. Then there is social media: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. Jeanne Meister, in a blog titled “To Do: Update Company’s Social Media Policy ASAP” advises companies to “develop comprehensive social media training programs” and “If you want to retain control of your online image, remember to change passwords, and restrict access to social pages before you let go of the employees who run those accounts.” Too bad HMV didn’t talk to Meister!
What else can you do? In a recent article by J. Mark Poerio and Laura E. Bain titled “Social Media in the Workplace: Employer Protections versus Employee Privacy”, they advise employers to:
- “establish sole ownership of its business-related social media accounts, websites, blogs, and other protectable interests (e.g., trade secrets and customer lists)
- control the password for employer media accounts and change it when key employees depart
- establish policies to designate which employees have authority to access the employer media and what they may do once access is gained
- require written agreements acknowledging that the content within employer media is owned by the employer
- address, also in written agreements, the obligations of a departing employee, both as to employer media and other business-oriented contacts such as those made through LinkedIn”
Looking ahead, there should be some landmark legal decisions about what current and former employees may say about your company on social media so stay tuned!
And, I am curious … what has your company done to successfully keep corporate layoffs a secret (i.e.; what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas)?
Organizations often merge or acquire other businesses in order to expand into new markets, acquire new technology or reduce competition. A merger is when two companies become one and an acquisition is when one company acquires another.
Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) can help organizations become more efficient, profitable and powerful. For example, the merger between Exxon and Mobil helped both companies obtain a larger share of the gas and oil market. And the merger between Merck, a pharmaceutical manufacturer, and Medco, a distributor of pharmaceuticals, helped Merck gain an advantage in distributing its products.
But in the process of M&As, with all of the legal and financial issues to deal with, employees are sometimes ignored. Doing so can decrease morale and productivity and lead to an exodus of key talent.
Those in Human Resources face a number of challenges during a merger or acquisition. They include:
- Identifying and communicating the reasons for the M&A to employees. Often employees see change as dislocating and upsetting. HR must communicate effectively and openly with all employees throughout the transition. Specifically, HR must communicate with employees about the necessity for the change, explain how the change will benefit them, and manage the stresses that accompany change.
- Forming an M&A team and choosing and coaching an M&A leader. The team leader must focus solely on the M&A rather than be involved in running the business, be sensitive to cultural differences, lead the change process, and retain and motivate key employees.
- Assessing the corporate cultures. One company may be driven by a sales mentality while another may be focused on innovation. Or decisions in one company may be top down while the other may be used to more participative decision making. HR must anticipate cultural challenges and take steps to integrate the two cultures.
- Deciding who stays and who goes. HR must determine the new organizational structure, and retain and motivate key talent.
- Comparing benefits, compensation and union contracts and deciding on HR policies and practices.
According to Andrew F. Giffin and Jeffrey A. Schmidt, authors of Why HR Can Make or Break Your M&A, “M&As provide enormous potential for growth that simply can’t be achieved as quickly through organic, incremental development. However, success rates are not very high, rendering them an expensive and very risky way to grow a business. When … companies pay close attention to the people aspects of a merger or an acquisition, they greatly increase the chances that the deal will fulfill its promise. That’s why, in the final analysis, HR can make or break an M&A.”
I am curious … what challenges have you faced during M&As and how have you handled them?
We sat down with Jeff Groh, Owner of New Product Visions, to learn why he decided to start his own business.
Q.Why did you start your own business?
A. I had been in the corporate world for many years, and had achieved much success, but I was just not satisfied. When I decided to leave my current position as a VP of Technology for an analytical instrument manufacturer, while I considered finding a “normal” job, I just kept coming back to a consulting business model that I had been considering for a while. Now was the time to try it. Professionally, I needed to move on and learn new things. From a personal stand point, my daughter was just about through college and my wife and I were looking for a new adventure. I had owned a small business before, so with that experience, we decided to take the chance. My wife will be involved as she will be the “CFO” and my “IT” department all rolled into one!
Q. Who or what helped you in your decision to start your own business?
A. I grew up in a family who owned a small business, so it has really always been a part of me. I had my first experience as a small business owner about 20 years ago, but eventually went back into the corporate world. So those experiences certainly influenced my decision to try it again. The world of consulting was new to me, but seemed interesting and a chance to learn new things. I was very fortunate that when I decided to leave my job this time, I had access to Judy Lindenberger as a career consultant. She was a tremendous help throughout my entire decision-making process. She had been through a similar experience of leaving a corporate position and starting a consulting company, so the advice and encouragement she gave was very helpful.
Q. What do you love most about consulting?
A. First of all, I just feel a need to help clients with the issues surrounding new product development (NPD) processes, and also continue to learn from them. One area I will focus on is management’s role in the process, which I believe is one area where many companies get it wrong. I am passionate about that and feel that I can help clients be more successful. Second, is that it provides me an outlet to do all the things I love to do: continue to learn and think about NPD, work with lots of different companies and technologies, sales, marketing, and running a business. I have a very broad business background and love the variety. Finally, I love being my own boss and the flexibility that provides. I am not very good at being told what to do.
Q. Tell me a success story you have had with a client.
A. It is still very early as I have just been marketing the business for about two months now but what is most satisfying so far is that my “message” seems to be resonating with my target market. I have some clients now that I started working with and more in the works. I am very pleased with where I am right now.
Q. What’s next on your horizon?
A. Marketing, marketing, marketing! Up until about two months ago when the website launched and I officially left my previous employer, I was mostly focused on content and getting myself prepared. Now, the emphasis is on networking, marketing the business, and selling clients on the benefits of hiring me. I am also concentrating on publishing articles and finding opportunities to speak at conferences in order to build name recognition and credibility.
To learn more about starting your own business, go to our article, Tips on Starting Your Own Business, http://www.lindenbergergroup.com/art_tips.html