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Best practices to get RIFed
Old 03-01-2017, 07:29 PM   #1
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Best practices to get RIFed

Hey all, Am 55 and work for a mega corp that provides 1.5 weeks/year severance to folks that get laid off. Want to RE in 1-2 years, but there are some disincentives to voluntarily retire before 60 (beyond not getting a package). Most of those disincentives disappear if one gets laid off. Also, the 10% penalty on IRA distributions goes away if laid off over 55 and under 59.5. Thus, I've been collecting best practices on ways to get RIFed (Reduction in Force is the HR term). Appreciate thoughts from folks that have worked this issue, especially with success.
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Old 03-01-2017, 07:42 PM   #2
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Slack off, show up late, have a lot of "family issues" requiring unpaid time off...
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Old 03-01-2017, 07:50 PM   #3
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FWIW here are a few:


monitored the external business environment (we usually followed industry shifts)


got into management where RIF's, in time, happened to bring in new blood


worked in areas where upper management retirements usually led to broad RIF's


always stayed plugged into the "grapevine" for timing tip offs


was always prepared to volunteer for somebody younger if RIF'd


helpful that my boss was looking for a RIF also
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Old 03-01-2017, 07:59 PM   #4
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Good luck with this. My megacorp did annual RIFs and I did everything short of completely slacking to get laid off. Didn't happen. Things I tried that didn't work:

- Let my manager, and several other managers I was friends with, know that I would volunteer if they were looking for volunteers.

- Challenged authority... on 3 different occasions, when CEOs (we went through several over the course of a few years) came to town for "all-hands" - I boldly asked the questions everyone was thinking but was too afraid to ask. My coworkers were sure this would set me up for a layoff since I was a troublemaker.... but I think it worked against me... I'd asked valid questions in public and they might have been worried it would appear they'd targeted me if they laid me off.

- When asked to work mega extra hours when there was a crunch let it be known that I would work *some* extra time for a finite, defined, period - but not the multiple months of 80 hour weeks because some sales guy promised an unrealistic deadline.

I finally gave up and retired anyway... no package. Ironically they laid off 3 people in my smallish group the next year - and the package was pretty sweet. Oh well.
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Old 03-01-2017, 08:16 PM   #5
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Here's what I did:
1. Automated my job wherever possible
2. Found a "better fit" in other areas for functions that couldn't be automated
3. Hinted that if there were ever a need to RIF someone that I would be willing to be on the list, rather than taking a job away from someone who needed it to put food on their table

Took about 2 years but it happened.

Good luck !
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Old 03-02-2017, 03:43 AM   #6
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Was never the bosses friend. He loved to sit in his office and have long bs sessions.
I also asked questions in all hands meetings. Would also push back on the soft answers.
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Old 03-02-2017, 04:26 AM   #7
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Last place I was employed, the routine was simple and well known. The highest paid people in each department were the first candidates for every layoff. They had to be careful about it to avoid age discrimination issues, but it was pretty clear. Using that policy allowed them to get rid of the fewest people, then spread the workload among those remaining.
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Old 03-02-2017, 08:12 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by RobbieB View Post
Slack off, show up late, have a lot of "family issues" requiring unpaid time off...

I would not do this... as one of my bosses mentioned to me one time when someone was leaving in a couple of months doing what you suggest.... 'if he keeps this up he will be fired'.... and if fired you are not getting a package...
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Old 03-02-2017, 08:48 AM   #9
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Good luck with this. My megacorp did annual RIFs and I did everything short of completely slacking to get laid off. Didn't happen. Things I tried that didn't work:

- Let my manager, and several other managers I was friends with, know that I would volunteer if they were looking for volunteers.

- Challenged authority... on 3 different occasions, when CEOs (we went through several over the course of a few years) came to town for "all-hands" - I boldly asked the questions everyone was thinking but was too afraid to ask. My coworkers were sure this would set me up for a layoff since I was a troublemaker.... but I think it worked against me... I'd asked valid questions in public and they might have been worried it would appear they'd targeted me if they laid me off.

- When asked to work mega extra hours when there was a crunch let it be known that I would work *some* extra time for a finite, defined, period - but not the multiple months of 80 hour weeks because some sales guy promised an unrealistic deadline.

I finally gave up and retired anyway... no package. Ironically they laid off 3 people in my smallish group the next year - and the package was pretty sweet. Oh well.
Your story reminds me of the only Seinfeld I ever really liked: The one where George decides to do the exact opposite of what he normally does. He insults a beautiful woman at a bar who then finds him instantly irresistible. He tells off Steinbrenner who then offers him a cushy high-paid job. Of course it does not last because he always slips back to being himself.
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Old 03-02-2017, 09:06 AM   #10
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RIF's are extremely hard on first line managers. Well, at least any manager that has a conscience. Any time someone makes it known to me they would like to exit, it becomes a very easy conversation come lay-off day.

I'd somehow let your first line manager know your intentions...I wouldn't slack off at work as that becomes a character issue. But, just let your manager know it will be a easy conversation for you if a RIF comes your way.
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Old 03-02-2017, 06:11 PM   #11
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Thanks Everyone - appreciate the responses. Not in my character to slack off. Main question is should one be up front with boss or hold cards close to chest. Leaning toward the latter.
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Old 03-02-2017, 06:24 PM   #12
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Thanks Everyone - appreciate the responses. Not in my character to slack off. Main question is should one be up front with boss or hold cards close to chest. Leaning toward the latter.


It completely depends on the individual boss and your relationship with him/her and your reputation in the company at large. When I was a boss I was able to "help out" a couple of people that way, saving others who didn't want to or couldn't leave, but there were others I simply couldn't "help" because the whole organization recognized them as "too valuable to lose" and I couldn't get it through - these things are never in the hands of one person. Usually the first line manager makes a list, it then goes up the chain, then is reviewed by HR and finally legal to ensure people aren't overtly or unintentionally discriminating on the basis of sex, age, race etc. if you have a good relationship with your boss, float the idea. But if it is a bad relationship don't take the risk.
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Old 03-02-2017, 07:46 PM   #13
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Thanks Everyone - appreciate the responses. Not in my character to slack off. Main question is should one be up front with boss or hold cards close to chest. Leaning toward the latter.
Being up front as in volunteering to get separated ahead of others? Yes. That seems safe.

Being up front in any other way? It would take a very close relationship with your boss. I have a difficult time imagining such, unless your boss is also your spouse.
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Old 03-03-2017, 07:31 AM   #14
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I think it can work both ways. My long-service banks manager brother-in-law had no idea there was a shadow package. I was talking to my cousin's husband (his boss) that he had recently bought a nice retirement home in Scottsdale. He asked if he thought BIL would take it. I said the odds were good. Two months later he was happily retired and thanked me.
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Old 03-03-2017, 10:26 AM   #15
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I will chime in on my thinking.... yes, I would be up front with my boss and let them know I would take a package...


First, what is he or she going to do Fire you? No... there is no reason to do that...

Second, the way most budgeting works is that you have to meet some 'goal'.... so the higher ups say you have to cut 10%.... why fire someone before they start counting the reduction? IOW, that is easy money to count toward your goal... why let it go and then have to work hard to try and get budget money back to hire someone else...


Last, if I were a boss I would rather have someone that has been working there for awhile than having to go through the hiring process and train someone new.... Say John wants to go but does not tell me... so I get go of Sally... John then quits.... now I have to replace John.... and I will not be able to go out and hire Sally as he was let go and HR says not to do it... so now I have to hire Jane and then train Jane... what a pain that is that I could have avoided if John had just mentioned to me he wanted to leave.... heck, I might be mad at John!!!
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Old 03-03-2017, 12:09 PM   #16
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I will chime in on my thinking.... yes, I would be up front with my boss and let them know I would take a package...
+1 as a former boss who had to do RIFs, I would have much appreciated an employee telling me on the sly that they would volunteer... though I might not accommodate them if they were a good performer... we tried to RIF the weakest links.

BTW, for most 401k plans, if you separate service in the year you turn 55 for any reason (fired, laid off or just quit) then the 10% penalty does not apply.
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Old 03-03-2017, 01:46 PM   #17
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I had a very good contact in HR and checked with him once on tips on how to get an early-out package. He laughed and said he's been trying to figure out how to get one for over a year. I knew others who would put up their hand if the offer ever came but it never did. After 3 years of waiting/hoping I just left on my own. And my contact later ER'd after getting tired of waiting.
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Old 03-03-2017, 01:47 PM   #18
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Here's what worked for me:

1) Worked hard for decades
2) Always got good evaluations
3) Showed up on time
4) Did my work well & got along with others
5) Stayed current in the skills the company needed

The above approach got me RIF'd just a few months before I could have retired with a package. YMMV.

Seriously, though, I would just talk with the boss or HR and let them know that you're amenable to it.

There's a book on this, too:
How To Negotiate A Severance eBook | Financial Samurai
Can't recommend it cause I've haven't read it, but I do follow this guy's blog and it's pretty interesting.
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Old 03-03-2017, 02:27 PM   #19
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Opposite take. A person on my team asked a former colleague and drinking buddy of mine to let it be known, to me, she was raising her hand. I basically told the intermediary that, she made too little money to make a dent to the RIF salary dump target. Moreover, she spent her tenure so far under the radar, never ticked anyone off, showed up on time and actually did her job!

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Old 03-03-2017, 06:33 PM   #20
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Have some of the same issues. At the top of my current position pay grade, 20+ years in the megacorp. But over the last six years have developed five of the company's best selling most profitable products. So now they think I am a expert and VPs come and ask me if this or that is the right move. REFed is never going to happen
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