opinion: 'I'm not a dreamer' - Marc Van Harneveldt

A redundancy or job loss is always a turning point. Believe me, nobody wants to be on their own after the blow. Does it happen more often or less often than it used to? No. Losing a job is part of the economic and human life cycle, both in times of strong conjuncture and in times of crisis. Yet I'm still amazed at how few people are actually ‘working’ on their career. Are aware that dismissal can - and probably will - happen to ‘me’ too. They're not preparing for that ‘shock’. Becuse that's what it feels like. We easily spend five out of every seven days on the job, are good at what we do… but we seldom take charge of our career. We tend to take it for granted.

 

Luckily, the tide is turning. Under pressure from a constantly changing world (digitalisation, an ageing population, increased talent shortages, increased flexibility of the labour market, etc.), employers and employees are paying the necessary attention to employability and job mobility – in other words: career coaching and outplacement. And, it must be said, the government is also playing the role of incubator. Ten years ago, only over 45s had the right to outplacement in the event of redundancy. Every employee with nine or more years of service gained that right in 2014, regardless of their age. Moreover, emphasis is placed on the quality of the coaching in Belgium thanks to the extensive social safety net and large severance payments. This is different from countries with an Anglo-Saxon model, where the speed of the search for a new job takes precedence because replacement incomes expire more quickly. No work means no income.

 

towards a human reality

Because Belgian employees finance part of this coaching themselves, with a portion of the severance pay, they expect even better quality – more than in the past when the employer fully financed the outplacement. And Randstad offers that. We never skip the change trajectory, the weeks when our consultant counsels candidates and helps them make the right, personal decisions.  That moment of self-reflection is an essential part of our method. It sets the tone for long-term motivation and employability. After all, who says that after working as an engineer for 15 years that you still think this job is the best choice? Or are expected to do so? Perhaps it's time to take a new step in your professional life? I know who I am and what I can do. But am I convinced about what I really want? That vital question is central in our career and outplacement coaching.

To prove just how important it is we are launching our people-driven methodology and approach under a new name worldwide. Galilei becomes RiseSmart. Randstad purchased the American company RiseSmart in 2015. To gain a better foothold on the oversees market. Yes, but mainly because the company virtualized the outplacement platform in the cloud so that it could guide candidates in their search for work 24/7. At their speed and within their abilities. The personal coach or consultant remains the key figure. He or she is the confidential advisor (our human touch) who looks for the most suitable job together with the candidate. On the tech side, the system is automatically and continuously fed by different job sites that propose vacancies. Our intelligent ‘job matching engine’ screens the profile with the vacancies and only proposes the jobs that are perfect for the candidate. The digitisation of the trajectory is in keeping with the new ‘human reality’ where one's work and private life are more intensely interwoven due to the influence of technology. One important condition related to that ‘blended approach’: human coaching always retains the upper hand. That's not debatable.

 

saving for one's future career

The growing importance of career and outplacement coaching isn't only fed by the government's activation policy. I became responsible for Galilei within the Randstad Group nine years ago. At that time, most of the +50s were preparing for retirement in their minds. People of the same age are at the beginning of a new chapter in their career in 2017. Admit it, it is quite normal that employees think about the direction that they want to go a bit earlier in their careers. It's also normal that they work on this. It's up to employers to support their employees, to motivate them, and to keep them working longer in a healthy way. Without the risk of a burnout or bore-out. That's not easy. I see it every day, it requires a tailored leadership model and management style to give that new career culture every opportunity and to raise the HR policy to the strategic level.

“Many +50s are at the beginning of a new chapter in their career in 2017”

An employer who is able to make his people think about their careers and guide them avoids a situation that forces him to offer outplacement – I call this an accident de parcours. Perhaps I am speaking on my own behalf, but it would be good if people started building up a nest egg (just like a pension fund or group insurance) as from their first job so that they could invest in career orientation in later phases. Training is a vital tool for supporting employability. Coaching is required to keep one's career meaningful throughout one's life. Does that make me a dreamer?

 

Marc Van Harneveldt – Director RiseSmart