Program Support — Expanding Roles of HR Partners

Associations, Benefit Brokers, MSPs, HROs, PEOs, ASOs, Staffing Firms, COBRA Administrators, and HR Consultants

Existing HR partners are well-positioned to offer outplacement, transition, and staffing support services. It's a natural win/win situation. They gain an additional source of revenue and their clients enjoy the benefits, cost-savings, and ROI associated with strategic HR solutions. In many cases, HR service providers can substantially improve unemployment compensation experience ratings, thereby reducing SUI taxes and saving even more money.

A Trusted HR Advisor

Most organizations already have an established relationship with an HR service provider. They interact regularly and share mutually beneficial knowledge about business needs and solutions. It's a natural fit and easy for these established HR partners to extend new HR solutions to their clients. They also can take advantage of their economies-of-scale to bring unprecedented buying power and savings to their clients.

Want to Know More?

Below is a copy of an article published on LinkedIn that provides more information about brokers, HROs, and PEOs as outplacement providers. Most of the concepts apply to staffing and recruiting organizations, benefit consultants and other providers of human resources-related services.


Despite its value as an employee benefit, outplacement is typically segregated from other benefit offerings. Outplacement’s limited integration with other benefit programs has constrained its potential. This is important because of a huge unmet need and its societal implications.


In the U.S., we have around five million total separations each month (around 60 million/year). Included are approximately 1.8 million monthly layoffs and discharges (around 21.6 million/year); a number that has changed little over the past 12 months.

Very few of those in need of job search assistance are covered by outplacement services. The rest are left to fend for themselves.

This begs the question … “Would employees and employers be better served if outplacement services fell within the purview of more traditional benefit providers?” e.g., benefit brokers, HR Outsourcing (HROs) and professional employer organizations (PEOs) and the like.

There are other examples of logical, yet under-represented providers of outplacement services. For example, all of the largest recruiting and staffing firms have an outplacement division, yet many staffing firms have yet to embrace outplacement as one of their offerings. Similar arguments could be made for ASOs and COBRA administrators.


New technology and payment models are transforming outplacement. It's no longer an expensive and episodic benefit for the few.

Subscription-based outplacement mirrors the way other benefits are structured. It has broad coverage that spreads risk in order to reduce cost and it uses the more familiar per-employee-per-month (PEPM) financing model. More important, it costs a tiny fraction of what traditional outplacement costs.

It applies to 100% of the workforce, regardless of reason for separation, it can more than pay for itself through savings in unemployment compensation costs.

However, for the most part, outplacement is still segregated from mainstream benefit delivery and management channels. A change is needed. Let's consider benefit brokers and PEOs as an example.


An A – Z Analysis

Should benefit brokers, HROs, PEOs and similar organizations become the primary channel for outplacement services? Here are some of the reasons brokers and PEO’s might be the logical choice.

For the following, choose either “Outplacement Firm” or “Broker/PEO.” Then tally your score.

A. Who owns the primary employee benefit relationship with employers?

B. Who has the largest number of established customers and covered employees?

C. Who is among the first to know about upcoming changes in employee census?

D. Who has the broadest and most frequent access to HR and other benefit decision-makers?

E. Who has the greatest degree of influence regarding employee benefit selection?

F. Who has the strongest and longest relationship with the employer?

G. Who is better positioned to provide seamless integration of employee benefits?

H. Who provides the most consultative support for employer and employee needs?

I. Who benefits most by providing an integrated suite of employee benefit solutions?

J. Who knows the most about the employer and their employee benefit needs?

K. Who has the greatest long-term interests of the employer as their focal point?

L. Who wants to provide benefit “stickiness” that promotes on-going holistic programs?

M. Who is HR’s most trusted advisor and strategic partner?

N. Who is better positioned to provide measurable ongoing net savings?

O. Who can best demonstrate coverage along the entire continuum of employee benefits?

P. Who has the greatest ability to offer long-term socially responsible benefit programs?

Q. Who can offer employee benefits that have almost zero administrative overhead?

R. Who is most interested in a balance of high value, low cost benefit offerings?

S. Who can offer affordable benefits that cover 100% of the employer’s workforce?

T. Who is the strongest advocate of 24/7 employee benefit coverage?

U. Who accepts SaaS, cloud, eLearning and the like as addressing today’s user preferences?

V. Who wants to broaden the services and support they provide to existing customers?

W. Who wants to offer inexpensive employee benefits that are applicable to any size employer?

X. Who thinks unlimited scalability and integration are important for today’s benefit programs?

Y. Who would gain the most new business via a synergistic entrée into an untapped market?

Z. Who would gain a competitive advantage via a valued-added market differentiator?


If you chose “Broker/HRO/PEO” a few times, now is a good time to start thinking about what this can mean to your business needs and vendor selection. It begs a couple of additional questions:

  1. Should all brokers, HROs, PEOs and the like add outplacement to their employee benefit portfolio?
  2. Could large brokers or PEOs dominate the outplacement market within a year or two?
  3. Will late adopters fall behind their more aggressive or innovative counterparts?
  4. Will outplacement firms morph into the role of subcontractors or niche players?


If the market favors a “Yes” response to any of the last four questions, it will be good for brokers, good for HROs, good for PEOs, good for employers, and good for outplacement firms (well some of them), but most important, it will be good for people … our working masses.

There are several options for facilitating a change for the better, including licensing, outsourcing, and strategic alliances. In the long run, universal outplacement may become mandated, as it is in some European countries. Until then, with a little luck, socially responsible outplacement for all employees will be within reach.