By: Helios on August 25th, 2015

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The Best Way to Treat Your Employees When a Government Contract Ends

Communication | Risk Management | Employee Relations

In the DC Metro area, it's no secret that we have a multitude of Government Contracting firms.  Over the past few years in particular, we have all felt the industry contract from $550 billion to $450 billion. While some may argue this contraction is temporary, we may still have a few more years of industry tightening.

As such, organizations should remember that even though they have lost a contract, there is the likelihood that they may have to reemploy a departing employee at some other time in the future. Further, the industry tends to be quite small and word gets around quite easily – especially when a good or bad government contractor gets a reputation for treating employees well or treating them poorly.

Having been in the industry for the better part of a decade, and having the opportunity to work with multiple government contracting clients as an HR Business Partner at Helios, I have seen my fair share of organizations obtain and tarnish reputations based on their off-boarding practices when a contract concludes.  Below are best practices to employ when your organization’s contract comes to an end.

Best Practices to Offboard Employees When a Contract Comes to an End

  1. Keep employees up-to-date regarding the status of the contract. Employees will have a rough idea of the length of a contract and when and if it may not get renewed. Keeping employees updated on the company’s desire to rebid or no longer pursue that type of contract creates goodwill among your employee population.
  2. Ensure your managers and front line supervisors have enough information to answer employee questions. Arming your managers and front line supervisors with information pertaining to the status of a pending contract renewal allows you to not only control what is being presented to employees, but also allows for information to be disseminated quickly and efficiently.
  3. Develop a communication plan for affected employees and for the rest of your company. In the absence of information employees will start making up their own reasons for the contract ending. Wouldn’t your organization be in a position of strength if you controlled the message instead of the other way around?
  4. Ensure employees have updated their resumes and provided it to your internal recruiting resources.  In organizations with multiple business units, other opportunities might be available for impacted employees. Instead of spending the time and effort finding, interviewing and bringing an outside hire up to speed, your organization would better off transferring an employee who already has the skills set, knows the organizational culture and has been a proven contributing member to the firm.
  5. Offer your employees transition assistance. Transition assistance is good for organization’s that don’t have other internal opportunities available when a contract ends. Transition assistance organizations can help run seminars regarding resume writing and job search assistance for employees who are leaving your organization.  Partnering with a transition assistance firm allows your organization to really assist departing employees with the next stage of their career.  The people who receive the assistance will appreciate the support and guidance, especially if it’s been a while since they last had to write a resume or interview for a position.
  6. Ensure your recruiting team, and managers, stay in contact with the impacted employees after they leave the organization. Since the industry is so small, you never know when you might see these employees again. You never know when you will run into a former colleague. When you do run into them again, wouldn’t you feel better knowing you have done everything you can to assist with their transition to another position?
  7. Set up a hotline or e-mail account for impacted employees. Depending on the size of the contract and the size of your organization, you may want to set up an internal 1-800 number or an e-mail address where employees can call for questions regarding their benefits prior to and after they leave your organization.

I can't emphasize how important it is to treat transitioning employees with dignity as they leave your organization enough. Implementing these seven considerations into your process when a contract ends will help you organization achieve this for your employees.  Helping departing employees leave with dignity is not only good for the departing employee; it also benefits the organization because the employee leaving will be able to find their next opportunity that much quicker and have good things to say about their last employer. If that employee has good things to say, it’s likely they could refer an acquaintance to an open position at their old firm. And you never know when a positive employee referral can change the fortune of your organization.