Publication - Research and analysis

PACE customer journey: 2019

Published: 25 Sep 2019
Directorate:
Fair Work, Employability and Skills Directorate
Part of:
Work and skills
ISBN:
9781839600623

Qualitative study looking at the customer experience of individuals who have recently been made redundant.

40 page PDF

1.3 MB

40 page PDF

1.3 MB

Contents
PACE customer journey: 2019
Exploring the Customer Journey

40 page PDF

1.3 MB

Exploring the Customer Journey

This section explores the different stages in the customer journey facing those experiencing redundancy. It identifies the support needs at each stage and highlights how support is provided through PACE and alternative private sector support providers.

Stages of the customer journey

Our research shows that there are common stages or "touchpoints" along the customer journey. These are:

  • Finding out about the redundancy/consultation
  • Identifying support needs
  • Accessing support
  • Looking for a job
  • Leaving employment
  • Getting another job or starting a business

In a "typical" customer journey an individual may travel through the touchpoints in a linear fashion. But the reality is that each customer navigates around the touchpoints in lots of different ways, often repeating certain touchpoints, or bypassing some. For example, some individuals will start to look for work immediately, before they have been made redundant, others will wait and weigh up their options.

Customers' needs change as they progress through the redundancy process and will be influenced by a range of personal and external factors (theses are explored further in a subsequent chapter). They will also be influenced by their experiences and interactions with the service they get through PACE. It is also important to note that different stages can be repeated, and that even once they have found a job, individuals still may need further support. Some of the typical thoughts and feelings identified by PACE customers as they move through the redundancy process and access PACE support are summarised in Figure 1. The stages of the customer journey are described in more detail in the following section.

Figure 1 PACE Customers' feelings and thoughts at different stages

Consultation

Identifying need

Accessing services

Leaving work

Entering a new job

What does redundancy mean?

What happens next?

What am I entitled to?

Will I find a new job?

What will I do for money?

How will I support my family?

I need help with:

My CV

Interview skills

Money advice

Counselling

I want to consider career options.

I feel more confident.

I want to start my own business.

This is not the end.

I'll survive this.

Will I find a new job?

What if I run out of money?

Do I need support?

What else can I do?

Is this the right job for me?

I took the first job that I was offered.

What if it doesn't work out?

Consultation/finding out about the redundancy

The initial stage of the process is when a person is first informed about the redundancy. This is an important stage, and how this is handled by the employer has a big impact on the subsequent support needs and the emotional wellbeing of the employee concerned. The statutory requirement is that employers must give at least one week's notification of redundancy for staff employed under two years and an additional week's notice for every year employed beyond that (up to 12 years). However, if a company goes into administration and ceases trading, there is sometimes very little notice given to staff.

There are a wide range of different approaches that employers take to consulting on, or announcing, redundancies. Some staff are given notification of potential redundancy without knowing whether they will be made redundant. In other scenarios, an entire workplace is informed that they will all be getting laid off. Sometimes staff are sent home but in many cases, they are required to work on, making accessing support more difficult. However, some employers are supportive and allow staff time to deal with the redundancy.

"After the consultation period my employer carried out information sessions with the Board. And they gave us time to go for interviews and access other support … but my role in finance meant that I didn't have the time to do this because it was full on after the redundancy news trying to sort things out. I wasn't able to benefit from the support compared to other people." PACE customer, aged 35-44

One individual was informed privately of a redundancy scenario but was not allowed to discuss it with other employees. This secrecy and lack of transparency adds further anxiety to what is already a stressful situation. It also makes accessing support much more difficult.

"I was sworn to secrecy so that other employees wouldn't find out about the redundancies. It was hard to stay motivated knowing I couldn't talk to anyone about what was happening; and I still had a job to do." Non-PACE customer, aged 35-44

In most instances, PACE teams are not involved in the process until after redundancies are announced and staff informed. This often means that employees given notice cannot access any immediate external support, aside from colleagues, family and friends and Trade Unions (where relevant). However, where employers are buying in support from an out-placement service, these services are sometimes involved from the initial announcement stage. This potentially provides access to more immediate support and a more joined up service.

Following a notification of redundancy or potential redundancy, the first response is often shock followed by anger. People also experience a sense of shame or worthlessness alongside confusion and often face a lack of information.

"I felt ashamed. I was playing things back over the last few months trying to work out what I did wrong. This was the first time I'd been unemployed since I was 16. I thought what do I do? I had no one to turn to." Non-PACE customer, aged 55-64

Once the redundancy notice has been issued and the employee has come to terms with the initial shock, they will need to consider what their options are, what they need to do, and what support they might require. Through conversations with individuals it is clear that customers experience very similar initial fears and questions: financial concerns, worries about supporting their family and finding a new job. The most commonly identified immediate support needs are:

  • Information on redundancy, the process and what they are entitled to.
  • What it means for them financially (redundancy payments and benefits implications).
  • Emotional support – having someone to talk to and reassurance.

Basic information on redundancy and rights

The first thing that people want to know tends to be what redundancy means for them in practical terms, what the process is, and what are their rights and entitlements. Particularly if this is their first redundancy experience. They are largely reliant on their employer's HR staff or Trade Union representative (where relevant) for this information.

Benefits and finance

After finding out about redundancy, many individuals will have immediate concerns about the financial impact on them and their families. They will want to know what redundancy payment they will get, their benefit entitlements and how to register with the Jobcentre.

Emotional support

Our research suggests that people will initially seek support from their close family and friends and use any existing support networks they have. Those with more limited networks, or whose partners are also going through the redundancy are more likely to struggle with accessing immediate emotional support. The research also found that some in managerial positions found it challenging to support colleagues while also trying to navigate redundancy themselves. Individuals will need signposting to emotional support that they can access quickly and confidentially. Where there has been a long lead-in time and engagement with the employer, partners are able to provide more support, for example in the Michelin redundancy scenario, the long lead-in time has enabled the NHS to provide support on-site.

Identifying support needs: PACE customers

PACE Presentation

The vast majority of employers are fully cooperative and supportive of PACE teams and recognise the value that this service provides to their employees. The PACE presentation is generally the first stage of contact that customers will have with PACE services and normally takes place in the workplace, where this is practical. However, where there has been a sudden closure, PACE teams will arrange to hold presentations in other community-based venues. PACE customers stated that they received the presentation about two weeks after they received their notice.

From the PACE Client Experience Survey, we know that the PACE presentation is the most frequently used aspect of the PACE service, with three quarters of customers attending one. However, by the time that the customer attends the PACE presentation, there are already considerable information and support needs arising from the redundancy notification (as outlined above). The presentation provides much of the basic practical information that customers need, but importantly provides an opportunity for customers to consider what further employability, training or personal support they might require. It also provides opportunities for individuals to discuss their needs through one-to-one sessions with an adviser and signposting to other services such as Business Gateway. The PACE presentation is viewed positively by those who attended it, as one customer highlighted:

"I went to the PACE presentation and they gave us a big workbook and talked us through what was in it. All the one-to-one support looked really good and promising, so I signed up for the lot."PACE customer, aged 35-44

For around a tenth of PACE customers the presentation is the only service they will use (9%) SDS and Scottish Government (2018) PACE Client Experience Survey 2018; IFF Research [online] available at: https://www.gov.scot/binaries/content/documents/govscot/publications/research-and-analysis/2018/12/pace-client-experience-survey-2018/documents/00543798-pdf/00543798-pdf/govscot%3Adocument/00543798.pdf›. Dialogue with customers highlighted that often the PACE presentation is enough to provide customers with the support, direction and motivation they need to look for another

job. Those who are more confident and have up-to-date skillsets may only require some basic information and signposting which the presentation will provide.

Accessing PACE support

The way that support is provided will depend on the specific redundancy scenario, the timescales and the supportiveness of the employer. The longer the lead-in time and notification given to the PACE team, the more planning and tailoring of services can be undertaken to meet the specific needs of the workforce. The Chair of the PACE Partnership will ideally discuss the arrangements with the employee representatives and agree on the most suitable package and timing of services. However, where there has been a sudden closure there will be no time for consultation and potentially a significant need for immediate support. Rapid closures of workplaces through insolvency can also lead to capacity issues and narrow timescales which can lead to customers missing out on getting the support they need. However, advisers report good relationships between PACE and Insolvency Practitioners that enables access for customers in these scenarios

Time to reflect

The basic information requirements around welfare, personal financial impact and the redundancy process are delivered through the presentation and guidance. However, there is still an ongoing need for customers to absorb this information and work out what it means for them. Advisers report that customers will generally address these fundamental elements and then 'stop and reflect' before considering what to do next. Where there is a reasonable amount of lead-in time there will be an opportunity for customers to think through their options and discuss these with their family. As one Adviser commented:

"If they've just had an announcement they'll want to deal with the immediacy of their loss. We don't want to force their hand … But we don't disappear: the door stays open."

Emotional support

The research suggests that the first few weeks of a redundancy are a crucial time for people in terms of psychological impact, which in turn impacts on the rest of their journey. One customer compared the redundancy to "breaking up with your partner and you don't want it to end" while others said it was "like going to a funeral". Feelings of grief, loss, stress, anxiety and lack of motivation were all common among participants.

There is a wide variation in the approach to providing emotional and mental wellbeing support through PACE, which ranges from basic signposting to statutory services or local third sector provision; through to direct referral to a provider. The amount of support needed varies from person to person, and at different stages of the journey, but overall customers spoke of needing this type of support at some stage in their journey; even if only as a safety net that provides reassurance that there is someone to turn to.

Employability support

Many individuals feel initially daunted by the prospect of looking for work. This is particularly difficult for those who have been in their present job for a considerable length of time. Older workers will be unfamiliar with the current jobs market and wary about online approaches to job search and applying for jobs. Others will need help to write or update their CVs or to develop interview skills as highlighted by one PACE customer:

"The prospect of having to get a CV together and put myself out there, particularly with LinkedIn and social media and things to consider was daunting. As much as we use those channels in a working situation there's much more focus on "self-promotion" which is not a thing that I find easy to do." PACE customer, aged 45-54

PACE provides initial group sessions on CVs and job search. These will involve SDS and local employability services coordinated by local authorities. Individuals may also feel that they don't need much help but are generally grateful for the guidance and advice they receive. Group sessions were viewed positively by some participants as highlighted below:

"Having group sessions was really useful because it gives everyone access to the information regardless of their personal situation. It's more supportive doing it as a collective, then if people want to explore certain avenues in more detail they can have a one-to-one session." PACE customer, aged 45-54

One-to-one support

One-to-one sessions with an Adviser are offered in all cases following on from the PACE presentation. Some customers will take time to request one-to-one support on careers options and may wish to pursue other options first. From our interviews there are several different reasons for this:

  • Taking time to reflect and think through what they really want;
  • Not knowing what they want to do;
  • Underestimating the difficulties of getting a job; or
  • Overestimating their own employability.

These sessions are usually with an SDS PACE Adviser and focus on employability, careers guidance and advice. However, Advisers are often asked in these sessions about redundancy legislation, rights and tax issues and will need to signpost customers to where they can find the relevant information.

Leaving work

As outlined earlier, the individual's experience at the point of leaving work will depend on the amount of notice, employer attitude and specific circumstances of the redundancy. But the reality of physically leaving the workplace can lead to negative emotions and feelings of worthlessness. Individuals spoke of:

  • Dealing with being unemployed for the first time;
  • Loss of pride and self-esteem;
  • Feelings of grief and loss; and
  • Increased stress and anxiety due to money concerns and finding a new job.

This stage can be particularly traumatic for individuals who have yet to secure employment. One customer commented that "there was no doubt I felt the impact of the redundancy, I felt like I'd lost my self-worth." While another spoke of financial concerns and having to cash in pensions to support her family. It is important that PACE clients are aware that the support doesn't end when they leave employment.

Entering a new job

The ultimate goal of PACE support is to move customers into a new job or another positive outcome as quickly as possible. However, the move into a new job does not necessarily mean that the support need ends. This stage of the journey can be stressful, with individuals worried about whether the job is right for them or doubting whether they can sustain their new job. As highlighted by one PACE customer:

"I probably accepted it because I was panicking and took the job and thought I'll take it and see … Now I'm more aware of PACE and its resources I feel more confident about accessing support and looking for information about qualifications and where my skills could transfer to other roles. If the job I'm in now doesn't work out, I'll know where to go for help." PACE customer, aged 45-54

Private redundancy services

Some employers do not engage with PACE services and choose to bring in private sector redundancy support from outplacement services. There are several such providers including Connor, LHH Penna, Renovo and Right Management. Often employers who are headquartered outwith Scotland use these outplacement services as this is part of their corporate policy when dealing with redundancy and transition. Use of private sector outplacement services is more common in certain sectors such as Financial Services and in large, multinational companies. One PACE Adviser has suggested that some employers feel they are likely to get a better service because they are paying for it.

While private outplacement services have the same objectives as PACE in terms of ensuring employees transition to new jobs as smoothly as possible, they also have the overarching goal of reputational and brand protection on behalf of the employer. One interviewee who received support from a private service requested additional support through PACE, a request which the employer refused. This particular company is a national organisation with a Head Office based in England and so this may in part explain the decision to use a private sector service over PACE.

However, in some instances, PACE teams do work alongside these outplacement services to provide a more locally tailored and comprehensive service, for example in Michelin Tyres in Dundee. Michelin had used the same outplacement company for a plant closure in Northern Ireland; so they brought with them sectoral expertise. Where joint support delivery is coordinated effectively, Advisers report that it can work well. Essentially the core elements of the service delivered by outplacement services are the same as through PACE; although they use different tools and approaches for some elements (for example psychometric testing).

Employers will generally buy in packages that include varying levels of support with, for example, additional specialist support being available for executives. The support is also usually time-limited, with a clear end date for when the support will end.

These services cover a wide range of offers to employees that can be tailored to specific circumstances, ranging from specialist leadership, coaching and career development to more generic employability support including CV writing, skills and confidence-building. Much of the generic support is delivered online.

Figure 2 summarises the different approaches to providing services between PACE Partnerships and private sector provision. This table is indicative only as both PACE and private sector support services will vary depending on the local PACE partnership, and what type and level of private sector service the employer has bought in.

Figure 2 Summary of Services provided through PACE and Private Outplacement services

Type of support

PACE

Private outplacement service

Engagement

SDS PACE Chair contacts the employer after notification usually through HR1

Employer HR department engages the service.

Informing/ consulting employees

Often this will have taken place before PACE involvement.

Private service can do this on behalf of the employer.

Identifying employers' needs

PACE Chair meets the employer HR representative to discuss and plan support.

Employer will specify what support is required based on the service offered through the outplacement provider.

Presentation on services

Comprehensive PACE presentation covering basic information on redundancy, and an outline of services (benefits advice, careers guidance, employability, training opportunities).

This can be delivered within the workplace or at an alternative venue.

Group teleconferences available.

Hard copy guides and documents

A handbook entitled 'Positive Steps to your Future'.

A local directory of PACE services.

PACE Facing Redundancy Guide.

Workbooks e.g. finance

Documents available to download from the online portal.

Initial personal support

Money advice

Benefits information and advice

Tax advice

Pensions advice

CV writing skills

Money advice

Pensions advice

Benefits information and advice

Redundancy process

Help to cope with stress/wellbeing

Varies from referral to counselling to signposting to external services.

Will vary, but may involve access to a 24 hour helpline.

Webinar on resilience.

Online articles via the portal.

Online support

SDS services through www.myworldofwork.com

Online portal offering online "courses" and articles. E.g. job searching, CV writing skills, how to cope with the redundancy process.

Employability/ transition support

Literacy and numeracy support

Employability support (CV/applications/interviews/ job search).

Career management and employability workshops.

Information on training and funding sources.

Will vary, but may involve access to a 24 hour helpline.

Webinar on resilience.

Online articles via the portal.

One-to-one support

One-to-one Careers Guidance interview.

One-to-one sessions available with advisers on CV writing skills, setting up a LinkedIn profile. Interview coaching.

Business start-up

Advice on business start-up from Business Gateway.

LinkedIn training on business start-up.

Follow-up

Various in-work services can be accessed including Careers Advice and training (where the person is eligible).

This can form part of the outplacement service but it will depend what level of service the employer has contracted.

There is no follow-up once the allotted time period is up.

Those not using any support

During the research several participants were interviewed who had not received external redundancy support of any kind. These conversations highlighted some of the issues they faced when trying to navigate the redundancy process. These include issues around:

  • Lack of information and direction;
  • Accessing emotional support through family and friends;
  • Accessing self-directed support; and
  • Lack of confidence in the Jobcentre.

Lack of information and direction

For those working for employers who have not engaged with PACE, or where the local PACE team has not been made aware of the redundancies, the route to support was less clear. The attitude of the employer, and what support they provide when making people aware of a redundancy is a key factor at this stage. Individuals may get some basic support and signposting from their employer or Trade Union representative (where they are present). However, often they feel they must deal with it themselves and pursue self-directed support.

"I knew the redundancy was coming, it wasn't a total surprise. They were going through a restructure. I was offered another job, but it wasn't suitable. It was a very difficult period. I was having problems with family, working overtime; I felt really undervalued. I didn't get much support from my employer other than my redundancy package." Non-PACE customer, aged 25-34

However, those not getting support through PACE were more likely to identify issues around inconsistent information, lack of clarity and a feeling that their employer did not know what to do. Individuals spoke of feeling let down and disappointed by the lack of support from their employer, some of whom are well-known organisations. As one participant described:

"The whole process was shocking. The only conversation I had with the management team was that I was told on the Monday I'd lost my job. Apart from that, I've had no contact with management about the redundancy. Nobody did anything for me." Non-PACE customer, aged 45-54

Customers spoke of increased stress and anxiety caused by the uncertainties and inconsistencies in the information they received from their employer. The experience of one customer who was made redundant while on maternity leave highlights challenges she faced with a large organisation:

"It shouldn't be for me to pick up on these errors by HR. And you just think come on, you're a massive organisation, how difficult can this be! It made me feel really vulnerable, and that I had to double check everything. I felt it was on me to deal with it myself." Non-PACE customer, aged 35-44

Employer support

While these individuals did not access any support through PACE or a private sector outplacement service, some were provided with limited support through their employer. One participant identified that his employer had provided support in the form of motivational coaching during the process of consultation and having to re-interview for a revised job. This was perceived as useful as it helped motivate him to look for work and move on.

Another individual identified that his employer had referred staff to a helpline. However, this person identified negative perceptions around using employee helplines for emotional support. He said that:

"The helpline had a stigma attached to it because of the way they put it over. They made it sound like if you're having a breakdown, phone this number. So that wasn't great, I don't think that was sensitively handled." Non-service user, age 25-34

Another person was referred to the HR department based in another city, where only phone-based contact was possible. They had no answers to any of the questions anyone had. This added to the stress he was under as he felt unsupported. He explained his personal situation with his young family to his boss and was told the company could not help him. His employer offered "group sessions" for people to chat through their problems with a representative. However, he felt this wasn't appropriate as people have personal issues they may not want to talk about in front of others. He felt that this should have been offered as one-to-one. There was no formal emotional support offered to help with stress.

Emotional support through friends and family

Dialogue with this group suggests that emotional support directly through an employer is limited, and often non-existent. People who received limited or no support from their employer also spoke of a need to speak to someone about their situation, especially if they were the only person being made redundant. They spoke of feeling "isolated and ostracised." People turn to friends, partners, family or colleagues, some of whom may also be trying to deal with their own redundancy. Most individuals who had not accessed any redundancy support services highlighted that if emotional support had been made available, they would have taken it, as highlighted by one interviewee:

"Emotional support would have been useful. I couldn't go to my Line Manager (as she was part of the problem). I didn't have access to any proper support from my employer. I was using Mindfulness apps to get through it." Non-PACE customer, aged 25-34

Self-directed support

A lack of clear information led several people to source their own information online. One stakeholder highlighted that often people google 'redundancy' or 'redundancy support' to find out what it means for them and what help they can get. This highlights the importance of PACE having a strong online presence. PACE seems to have a high profile when carrying out online searches around redundancy support with ACAS, SDS and Scottish Government websites linking to PACE all featuring prominently. One interviewee used internet searches to find out what information was available, having had only limited support from his employer, as described below:

"I looked online for information and came across PACE. But I didn't access it, I was too focused on finding a new job rather than looking for support." Non-PACE customer, age 35-44

The UK Government website was also mentioned frequently as a good source of information, particularly the redundancy calculators. One interviewee had looked online for advice on the redundancy process and what he was entitled to. He found the calculator tool useful, and using it made him realise he hadn't quite completed three years' service and was only entitled to two years. This led him to have conversations with his boss and to fight for the extra year's payment which he eventually received.

People also spoke of downloading information from the SDS 'My World of Work' website. One individual commented that information from the SDS website gave her the confidence and the knowledge to carry out her role as an employee representative. This suggests that there is a wider reach of PACE services than is formally acknowledged.

Lack of confidence in Jobcentres

There is a clear negative perception of Jobcentres among the interviewees and a strong feeling that the Jobcentre wouldn't be able to provide the support they needed. This was particularly the case for those aged over 45 and those in senior roles. People spoke of feeling "terrified" and "frightened" to go to a Jobcentre, while another said their local jobcentre was "intimidating" and a "total waste of time".

Others who didn't see the Jobcentre as a viable source of support said this was due to negative past experiences and through conversations with others who had had negative experiences. There's also a perception of the Jobcentre as the place you go to sign on, a box ticking exercise to get benefits.

Role of the Jobcentre

Where individuals do register with a Jobcentre, this should provide them with a route to accessing wider PACE services and getting the additional support and signposting that they need. However, this does not seem to be happening universally. Several interviewees who had experience of attending the Jobcentre had received only the standard service. The focus of the Jobcentre is to get individuals back into work as quickly as possible, and this does not necessarily provide customers facing redundancy with what they are looking for as described by one individual:

"I signed on a week or so after I left my job. I was offered an appointment with Routes to Work. I didn't take this up because I had a few irons in the fire at this stage. The Jobcentre was trying to point me towards jobs, but they weren't what I was looking for." Non-PACE customer, aged 25-34

An older participant (aged 55-64) commented that on a visit to the Jobcentre he was told that "I've got far too much knowledge and experience and there wasn't much she could help me with." This interviewee also felt that the Jobcentre could provide more follow-up and support and suggests that:

"Once you're registered at the Jobcentre it would be good for someone to follow-up with you, or mentor you. Especially with males who may feel they don't need help or don't want to ask."


Contact

Email: margaret.sutor@gov.scot