STAY CALM: S. Thomas Wharton, managing director of OI Partners-Lifocus, tells the newly jobless to avoid doing anything they’ll “regret later on.”
PBN PHOTO/DAVID LEVESQUE
By Patrick Anderson PBN Staff Writer
You had heard the downsizing rumors, asked why you were left out of meetings and noticed your boss wasn’t making eye contact.
Now it’s official: You’ve been laid off. What do you do next?
If you’re lucky and have a good severance package, you’ll probably meet with someone like S. Thomas Wharton, managing partner of OI Partners-Lifocus Inc. in Warwick, which provides outplacement services for the newly jobless.
“The first thing I would tell someone is, don’t panic,” Wharton said. “Don’t go out tomorrow and start waiving your old resumes around. … Don’t do anything you’ll regret later on.”
As the ranks of the jobless swelled during the recession, getting the recently unemployed back on their feet became much harder and much more important.
Much of the focus, especially in the public sector, has been at the lower end of the income scale, helping the factory workers and victims of mass layoffs recover from losing jobs that have no similar replacement and may never come back.
But in such a tight and rapidly shifting job market, managers and executives have also struggled to find their way after losing a position they held for a long time.
That’s where the private career-counseling and leadership-consulting industry has grown in recent years, offering contract outplacement services and counseling for laid-off workers, for companies to include in their benefit packages.
For some, the fact that companies will spend money on helping find new jobs for laid-off workers, instead of putting those resources toward keeping them employed in the first place, seems perverse.
But as Wharton explained, outplacement services can help protect the company from negative secondary effects of layoffs that could spiral out of control and further jeopardize the business.
“Companies realize there is a public relations benefit,” Wharton said. “Especially if it is someone with a prominent role, the last thing you want is for them to feel they have been treated badly and go right to the media.”
Donna Sullivan, vice president and general manager of Transition Solutions in Lincoln, said outplacement services are almost as beneficial for those workers who remain as those let go.
“Those who see layoffs and downsizing of co-workers they have known for 10, 20, even 35 years want to make sure they are being treated well,” Sullivan said. “And when they see something like severance and outplacement, they think the company is doing the best it can in a tough situation.”