Let's face it, the economy is in a fix. The AM website says that over 90% of you are considering redundancies in the coming year. I bet a number will use outplacement to soften the blow - in our opinion it is a very wise investment.
Outplacement may seem a cost that you could do without, but it pays for itself almost every time. It lets a vulnerable group of people know that you care about them, and you are trying to support them. Which, even in these difficult times, is how we hope you still view your workforce.
I think back to when most interested parties, estate agents, hedge funds, banks and probably manufacturers talked cheerily of a "soft landing". They and everyone else have been caught unawares by the speed and severity of the funding drought once the tap was turned off.
After the near seismic collapse of our financial system, what affects people so directly is not the aftershock of plummeting share prices or interest rates, but the tsunami of redundancies hitting the economy.
We see this fallout from both sides. Our recruitment business is flooded with new applications and our HR support business is engaged full-time on redundancy advice - how to plan it and how to implement it properly.
Because in a recession employment claims rise rapidly. Just when you need to concentrate fully on your business, those who have just left, or feel they are being exploited, bite back very hard. It can be very costly, not least in management time, to defend such claims.
Much of this is understandable - employers may have to act quickly to save their businesses, and when you move quickly, you often short-circuit procedure. In addition, employees may feel they have little choice but to pursue you if they are see the bailiffs moving in on them.
So added to the perfect financial storm hitting businesses, a perfect redundancy storm hits their HR department. Which is where we earn our corn, getting your procedures right to begin with, and then making sure you robustly defend any fallout. And we are increasingly providing outplacement too.
Because we know that two things greatly reduce the impact of redundancy on both your existing workforce and your leavers, and reduce your exposure to subsequent claims. One is clear communication so that everyone is left under no illusion about the financial fix you are in, and the second is spending a bit of time and money on those leaving.
A good outplacement programme repays itself. Most switched on HR directors would not consider looking at redundancy without outplacement, as it says much about you as a company and it makes financial sense.
Why? Because a proper programme will actively help employees back into work quicker, it turns them into effective employment seekers ahead of those around them. It focuses their minds outwards on the possibilities in the market, rather than inwards at their own situation.
By analysing their own personalities, their strengths and their weaknesses it makes them realistic about their potential and the jobs they should apply for. It may also open up possibilities that they had never considered before.
It also gives them a head start by giving them proper practice at the sort of tests and questions they are likely to encounter in the recruitment process. And finally, by drawing up and finely tuning a professional CV, many candidates will succeed in getting interviews that would have failed before.
And it will also help to protect your own brand when the press gets hold of those terrible heartrending stories of people out of work with no support from their own companies, or when three people inevitably talk down the pub about how their old employers left them high and dry.
And the quicker you can get people back into work, the less likely they are to claim against you, and if they do, the lower a claim is likely to be as their own financial loss is greatly reduced. If unemployment goes through the roof, this will be very important to you.
So bid them a fond farewell - not only is it the right thing to do, it will repay your investment in very real terms.