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How to/should I ask for a package?
Old 05-15-2011, 02:54 PM   #1
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How to/should I ask for a package?

I've heard about people getting fired in this economy and I know it's no joke. I've been fired before and it wasn't any fun.

So I ask this question with the greatest of sensitivity for those who've been let go unexpectedly: how would I go about raising the prospect of being packaged out of my job with a nice payoff? I don't think my boss thinks terribly highly of me and wouldn't shed too many tears if I resigned. But it's either stay in this job for another 2 years to FIRE, or engineer a payoff now of maybe 1 year salary. I'm not looking to get myself fired (like George Costanza when he was tring to join the Mets); rather to nudge my employer towards what I secretly want and that is not to be working there any more...
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Old 05-15-2011, 03:36 PM   #2
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It's a very rare company that would give a package to someone who asked for it. Alas, I've had the "pleasure" twice of being excessed in my career. Both times they offered packages. In the first I negotiated a better deal, and I needed an attorney for the second.
Companies give packages not because they are nice but to avoid litigation. To approach your company, that may not have had any concrete plans to terminate you, would severely weaken your negotiating arguments and I don't believe it would be successful.
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Old 05-15-2011, 06:29 PM   #3
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The same thought has crossed my mind a few times after seeing multiple early out packages offered. I missed the last one by less than a year. Now with the economy slowly moving ahead I doubt I'll see another one in the next couple years. Right now our company isn't hiring and the old guys are at least for now back in style. However the work load is picking up as well. I've only been home 5 nights in the last month. If I brought up a severence package I'm sure it would raise some eyebrows but little else.
I have daydreamed about devious ways to get let go or transitioned to a position that would force the company and I to part ways. However this is not in my character. I guess I'll put in a couple more years at least to see how the healthcare situation is in 2014. If I were reasonably certain the companies retiree medical plan would stay in place I'd probably go voluntarily next year.
Meanwhile, its not too tough once you know you COULD LEAVE TODAY and still make it in retirement.
In the last couple days my company car broke down, my company laptop screen is black, won't function and life is good. If any body needs me they could reach me by phone or write me a letter. We'll see how long this quiet period lasts. A year ago this would have stressed me out beyond belief. Now its kind of funny. Maybe I wouldn't take the package if it were offered anyway.
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Old 05-15-2011, 07:02 PM   #4
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Severance packages are not mandated by law and depends on the company policy. It used to be that my magacorp gives severance packages when people are laid off. But they have stopped doing that about a couple years ago and there were no announcement about it. I just found out about this when some people were laid off. I was hoping that I can be RIF'd and when I made the comment that I hope I was part of the RIF, I was told that it wouldn't have made a difference - there is no severance package to come. There is actually a difference - you get unemployment benefits. My boss knew (from my subtle remarks) that I want to be laid off, but he said it is not going to happen as we were hiring in our department.

So, don't count on a package if you asked to be laid off and you got what you asked for.
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Old 05-15-2011, 07:05 PM   #5
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It's not your call. In any company of size, there are usually rules in place when downsizing or releasing employees for cause.

Employers rarely pay people to resign. It sounds like you have a tenuous relationship with your immediate manager which implies you may not be performing to his/her expectations. If you're not fulfilling the requirements of your job, you can be let go for cause and without any "package". If you say you're willing to voluntarily resign if they'll pay you to go away, then expect to be without a job soon.
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Old 05-15-2011, 08:01 PM   #6
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So I ask this question with the greatest of sensitivity for those who've been let go unexpectedly: how would I go about raising the prospect of being packaged out of my job with a nice payoff? I don't think my boss thinks terribly highly of me and wouldn't shed too many tears if I resigned. But it's either stay in this job for another 2 years to FIRE, or engineer a payoff now of maybe 1 year salary.
It's difficult.

If you have a good working relationship with a boss then you can hint that you wouldn't mind being the first person laid off. Of course your current type of boss would happily oblige you without any package. Even a "good" boss could leave and his backstabbing replacement might discover your offer, holding it against you.

You could ask to telecommute or to go part-time, thus making you one of the easiest to lay off. But again you'd want to wait until you reach the FI part of FIRE in case this backFIREs.

Or you could keep plugging along in your current timeline, knowing that if a package is unexpectedly offered during the next two years then you'll be ready to take it. This has succeeded for at least two posters here. The keys are to keep your plans to yourself and to give the absolute minimum required notice.
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Old 05-15-2011, 08:21 PM   #7
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Wife was at megacorp and they decided to cut x% of the workforce. They started by asking for volunteers. She was probably one of the first. Of course, they probably didn't realize (or care) that those that were most employable were the first ones with papers in hand.

My megacorp announced they were outsourcing a bunch of functions. I told my boss (we are friends and had a very open communication channel at work), that we were moving out of state as soon as DW got her package so he might as well save someone else and lay me off. He tried but the response was it was going by title and there was no way to classify me down to one of the affected title's.

Bottom line, imo, if you're leaving anyway, don't put your cards on the table but see if you can swing something in a round of layoffs. If there aren't any RIFs coming, you could always see what you could angle but, really, what's in it for the company to pay someone who wants to quit anyway to leave?

If you think you're indispensable enough, your better bet might be... well, let's say you can leave now but plan to leave in 12 months, tell them you're leaving in 6 months but would be willing to stay on for 12 months to wrap everything up if they make it worth your while (pay you a 4 month retention bonus for instance).
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Old 05-15-2011, 08:52 PM   #8
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Thank you all very much indeed. The advice given here has made me reflect that I should just knuckle down to the next 2 years and then FIRE, and not do anything to jeopardise that. I won't be sad if Lady Luck intervenes, but thank you for the advice to keep the package stuff to myself. I'm going to do exactly that.
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Old 05-16-2011, 03:55 AM   #9
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A package might be out of the question....Employers offer packages to thin the ranks. Most companies thinned the ranks during the recession (though different approaches) and have been slow to refill back to previous levels. Your company is probably operating lean right now... why would they offer a package?

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Originally Posted by Jamtin34 View Post
... how would I go about raising the prospect of being packaged out of my job with a nice payoff? I don't think my boss thinks terribly highly of me and wouldn't shed too many tears if I resigned. ...


I must say the logic: I am considered a poor performer, maybe they will pay to get rid of me.... is twisted.

Frankly, I find it a little offensive and calculating.
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Old 05-16-2011, 05:09 AM   #10
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As someone who was just kicked to the curb (last Thursday actually), AGAIN, by a megacorp I can say that the severance package I'm getting this time is much much smaller than the last one. It's really nothing more than a token so to call it a severance package is a misnomer.

Not going to fight and claw (read: beg and plead) to get back in this time - we are FI so I'm going to do something meaningful and hopefully fun for a few years until we head off into the sunset in Az.

To the OP - If you only have two years to FIRE why take the risk? Just start the countdown clock and do your best until you hit the finish line
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Old 05-16-2011, 05:30 AM   #11
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My company gave me a nice going away gift(golf cart and cash). But if I had initiated some sort of retirement deal, I would have been laughed at.
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Old 05-16-2011, 05:47 AM   #12
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Thank you all very much indeed. The advice given here has made me reflect that I should just knuckle down to the next 2 years and then FIRE, and not do anything to jeopardise that. I won't be sad if Lady Luck intervenes, but thank you for the advice to keep the package stuff to myself. I'm going to do exactly that.
I think that may be your best approach. 2 years in't very long in the overall scheme of things. I was lucky to get a very generous settlement when I retired but there were somewht special circumstances. I agree hat you can't ask for one. Hints are OK. In my case I would ask questions about retirement policies and they correctly interpreted this to mean I might be open to a deal. It also helps if you are viewed as necessary to train your successor and have some valuable knowledge that the organization wants to keep around for a while. Finally, if you performance has suffered a bit in recent times that will also nudge them to a package.

All of these factors worked in my favour but it did result in my staying for 3 more years in transition. My financial payoff was significant.
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Old 05-16-2011, 06:23 AM   #13
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Finally, if you performance has suffered a bit in recent times that will also nudge them to a package.
If the OP's performance has "suffered a bit in recent times" a termination for cause would be more probable than getting paid to leave.
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Old 05-16-2011, 06:44 AM   #14
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It's difficult.

If you have a good working relationship with a boss then you can hint that you wouldn't mind being the first person laid off.

You could ask to telecommute or to go part-time, thus making you one of the easiest to lay off. But again you'd want to wait until you reach the FI part of FIRE in case this backFIREs.
This worked for me, at least in part because I had a good relationship with my boss. When middle mgmt decided to move my project to India, he was able to get me the option of a package instead of making me choose between another project that I had no expertise in, or leaving voluntarily.

In the 2 months I've been gone, the company announced an early retirement package for those 50 and above which I'd have missed by 4 months, and just last week a big round of layoffs to come.
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Old 05-16-2011, 08:31 AM   #15
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I was in a similar position. Actually, my immediate boss thought I was doing fine, but our new CEO was interested in getting rid of the "old guys".

If there had been an announcement of big changes, I would have raised my hand. But they were eliminating one job at a time and I could never figure out how to volunteer in that situation.

Fortunately, I found a couple interesting projects in my last 18 months and working wasn't so difficult (especially after I gave my boss a retirement date and I didn't have to pretend to have a long term career plan with the company).
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Old 05-16-2011, 09:23 AM   #16
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I would say dropping hints is as far as you want to go. We went through almost yearly layoffs in the 90's and the last 5 or so I was a manager and we were given instructions to treat anyone "volunteering" for a package as a resignation and had to walk them out the door the same day without the package.
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Old 05-16-2011, 09:30 AM   #17
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I would say dropping hints is as far as you want to go. We went through almost yearly layoffs in the 90's and the last 5 or so I was a manager and we were given instructions to treat anyone "volunteering" for a package as a resignation and had to walk them out the door the same day without the package.
That's brutal. I'm playing it safe and keeping my trap firmly shut.
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Old 05-16-2011, 09:34 AM   #18
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... we were given instructions to treat anyone "volunteering" for a package as a resignation and had to walk them out the door the same day without the package.
Unless there was a third party witness I suspect I'd have developed hearing problems.
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Old 05-16-2011, 09:37 AM   #19
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If the OP's performance has "suffered a bit in recent times" a termination for cause would be more probable than getting paid to leave.
Well, I think it's a fine line. In Canada companies are generally more generous in these circumstances. You want them to want you to go but not that much that they can do it with easily proven cause.
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Old 05-16-2011, 10:14 AM   #20
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I don't know y'all work, but resignations need to be in writing.
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