SOURCE: Power Connections, Inc.


February 24, 2010 12:56 ET

Outplacement's Future Isn't Up in the Air

Successful Firms Don't Prioritize Technology Over People Says Susan Howington of Power Connections

IRVINE, CA--(Marketwire - February 24, 2010) - As the Oscars approach, buzz abounds about George Clooney and Jason Reitman's hit Up in the Air. Whether you've seen the film or not, its message rings true -- especially in corporate America where the battle to balance technology, budgets and personal relationships is more precarious than ever. The seed of truth in Up in the Air -- that there is still a need for personal connections in the workplace -- is what has made the book and subsequent film so successful. "For a time, outplacement was handled in an impersonal, technology-driven way," says Susan Howington, President and CEO of Power Connections, an Orange County, California-based outplacement firm. "It was an inhumane approach to a very sensitive situation. I'm happy to see the renewal of personal service that has been occurring in the marketplace." If your organization is in the market for an outplacement firm, Howington offers three ways to spot an organization that's headed in the right direction:

They value face-to-face communication. In 2009, when group layoffs were more prevalent than they have been in years, many organizations lost the personal touch. "I talked to people who were laid off via PA systems, emails, closed-circuit TV and with an armed security guard at the door," Howington says. "The lack of respect for employees who've served you for, in many cases, years is astounding." Still, whether it's a layoff, hiring or employee review, Howington believes that the personal conversations take just a little extra effort and go a long way toward achieving the desired impact. In many outplacement programs, studies show that less than 15 percent of the total service time is spent with a consultant.

They have an established process. "Many aspects of Up in the Air were quite accurate," Howington says. "Most companies do have the outplacement representative in the room next door or down the hall with a packet in hand that explains the career transition benefits being provided to the separated employee. This is actually the 'silver lining' of the termination." Outplacement companies that take a personal approach don't stop there, however, and have an established process to follow-up, connect with and place recently outplaced employees.

They customize their approach for various levels. The outplacement approach should be tailored depending on each employee's level of experience. Employees should be paired or networked with their peers. "Your outplaced employees each have different needs, especially when it comes to what they're looking for in their next position," she says. "Whether they're entry-level and needing to find a position right away or a veteran executive who is looking for their next new approach, a great outplacement organization will recognize their needs."


Power Connections is an Orange County, California-based executive outplacement firm whose mission is to offer world-class service that creates positive and life enhancing experiences for clients. President and CEO Susan Howington and her team of top career management experts, business consultants and executive coaches deliver on this mission by embracing each client's professional vision and objectives, and providing the necessary tools, skills and network to help make their vision a reality. The firm offers a full range of services, including executive outplacement, executive coaching, professional networking and career management consulting. For more information, visit Power Connections online at

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