Send “outplacement” to Room 101

The Cambridge Business Dictionary defines outplacement as “help with finding a new job that a company gives to someone they can no longer employ” and declares it a noun. But the word does not match this definition. The word suggests that companies find jobs for leavers. They don’t. They help by paying providers to do so. The word literally means “placing outside”, not helping to find a job. In this the word is accurate and a synonym for redundancy. So the word represents yet another fudge in the language we use around how we manage relationships at work. Does this matter? I think it’s critical for economic survival in the 21st. Century that we reframe our working relationships more authentically and this is reflected in our use of language. People are as cynical about “outplacement” as they are about “employee engagement” and all the other double speak in so-called “human resource” management. Who wants to be a human resource? I propose that “outplacement” is sent to Room 101 and replaced by Alumni Programmes.

Ciaran Fenton

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