For a couple years now, I’ve been trying to spread the message that one should never quit their jobs, but get laid off instead and negotiate a severance package. I got laid off in 2012, and it was one of the best things that could have ever happened to me because I planned for it. Since being laid off, I’ve spent several months traveling abroad, I’ve seen my parents six more times than I normally would, and I’ve aggressively pursued my dream of being my own boss.
A lot of people look at me cock-eyed whenever I tell them that learning how to negotiate a severance package and getting laid off is a great thing, especially if someone wants to pursue entrepreneurship or has another job already lined up. Even for those of you who hate their jobs, but don’t know what to do next, getting laid off will provide a much better financial buffer than if you impatiently decide to quit one day thanks to a severance.
Employer loyalty is a thing of the past. During downturns, employers will not hesitate to cut your salary or get rid of you. When the economy eventually comes back, they’ll make you work harder for less pay if you are one of the lucky survivors. It’s time for more employees to know their rights. No longer do employees have to take whatever is given to them by “corporate” and like it.
Negotiating a severance package through a layoff is one of the best things you can do if you plan to move on.
The Positives of Being Laid Off
1) You save someone else from getting laid off. When cuts come, a target number must usually be met because it is mandated from up above. If you don’t raise your hand to get laid off when you have the means to do so, then someone who might seriously need his/her job will get cut.
2) You save your manager the hassle of making a hard decision. Only the Devil would enjoy laying people off. Bringing someone into a room to tell them their services are no longer needed after 10 years of dedication is extremely depressing to do. By raising your hand for a layoff, you save your manager a lot of angst.
3) You allow your junior colleagues a chance to get promoted and shine. One of the big issues younger employees face nowadays is that older employees just aren’t retiring soon enough to make way for the new generation. It could partly be because of the financial downturn, or partially because it’s hard to give up a cushy, well-paying job. By getting laid off, you give other people a chance to shine.
4) You control your own destiny. To come into work only to be called by HR and be sent home packing with your box full of belongings is horrible. If you are able to engineer your own layoff, you can dictate the terms with your manager on when you can leave. You win back your pride and dictate your own terms.
5) You can get a big fat severance! Imagine getting a severance that pays for your around-the-world trip. Or imagine getting a six-month severance and finding a job within two months. That’s four months of double pay.
How To Get Laid Off With A Nice Severance Package
1) Google “WARN notification *your state.*” Then search by your company. WARN stands for “Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification” where a company legally must file with the state if they plan to do a mass layoff. The goal is to provide potentially laid off workers time to adjust to a job loss (two months in California, three months in New York, for example).
2) Talk to your manager about the company’s staffing levels. “Bloated, lean, just about right?” Basically tell her that you empathize with how difficult her decision must be to lay people off, and ask how she copes. As the dialogue ensues, bring up a suggestion that you are willing to sacrifice your position for the good of the firm if she is asked by senior managers to choose people to layoff. This way, you seem like a good team player. You should also make clear that with your sacrifice, you wish to receive severance and any deferred compensation you might have.
3) Speak to HR about typical severance amounts. Your HR representative should be able to tell you what the typical severance amount is if there’s ever been previous layoffs e.g. 1 week per year worked + two months of salary minimum. Once you find out what the company’s severance policy is, then you are better armed to discuss and negotiate a severance package for your layoff with your direct manager.
4) Work harder than you have ever worked before. Once your manager has agreed to make your position redundant, be the best worker bee in the office until your last day. Train your replacement the best you can and “run through the bases” by getting in early and staying late. You want to almost leave an impression that they made a mistake of allowing you to retire early. The key word is “almost,” because you want to leave, collect your severance and deferred compensation, and do something else.
5) Write the most unique and glowing goodbye email you can. Don’t settle for a generic, “Thank you for the past six years. You can reach me at this email. Keep in touch.” Write something incredible that shows how much you care about the firm. Highlight specific people you admire and leave your reader with a good memory of you. Remember, you always want to keep the door open just in case you want to return. Be original and use your goodbye email as a platform to demonstrate your loyalty, good work, humility, and thankfulness.
Always Be Up Front and Collaborative
Engineering your own layoff can be a wonderful, wonderful thing for the firm, your manager, and your subordinate. A company is always looking to cut low-performers, or unmotivated employees. But there is a whole review process with documentation for underperformance that often takes a year before they can let an employee go. If you can be up front and candid with your disinterest, you have a much better shot at negotiating a severance package because you save your employer a lot of headache.
Don’t ever quit, unless you’ve got some incredible offer you just can’t refuse that’s blowing up in your face. Taking one for the team if you’re ready to leave anyway is the right thing to do. When you’ve got a long financial runaway thanks to your severance, chances are higher you will end up making a better decision for you and your family when the time comes.
Further Reading: If you’re looking for more meat on the subject of how to negotiate a severance package, please consider purchasing my book, the one and only published book available about getting laid off called, How To Engineer Your Layoff: Make A Small Fortune By Saying Goodbye.
This book has helped thousands of other readers as well to profitably take control of their situations. Just take a look at this reader’s testimonial!
Ready to learn more? Read all about the book, view more testimonials and access the ebook store here.