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Why not taking a lucrative layoff package is brain-dead stupid

Rob Enderle | Sept. 13, 2016
What should you do if you are offered a lucrative layoff package? Columnist Rob Enderle writes that the answer is a no brainer: Take the money and run.

Years ago I argued that layoff packages should be avoided because of the opportunities a savvy insider could have in a firm that was going to suddenly be short a lot of savvy insiders. It was more a bird-in-the-hand kind of argument given you’d have no idea what job you’d eventually end up with. However, after reviewing the outcome of programs like this over the years I can, with some authority, say that is no longer a sustainable position. In fact, in reviewing some recent programs I can generally say that not taking a lucrative package is brain-dead stupid in most cases. Or, put more bluntly, if your company is foolish enough to do a layoff badly and if they are willing to pay to send you someplace that is managed better, saying “yes” should be a no-brainer.

Let me explain.

My aha moment

I realized that my prior position was untenable when talking to a number of employees who were leaving or had left a large dominant tech firm currently executing a massive layoff. They shared an observation: They said that because the layoff package was so lucrative managers had determined that anyone who didn’t take it should be managed out of the company. Reasons ranged from the perception that these employees were low quality and likely stayed because they couldn’t find another job to them being too stupid to leave.

It had never occurred to me that managers would equate an unwillingness to take a package as a sign that an employee needed to go. So your choice isn’t going with a package or staying it is going with or without a package (because, let me tell you, if they manage you out you aren’t getting a lucrative package).  

HPE example

You may have seen the recent news that HPE is being sued by a number of employees for age discrimination. This is allegedly because they have a policy that requires that 75 percent of the new hires be relatively inexperienced. Effectively they want to hire mostly young cheap labor. That means that three out of four hires, some of which will be to backfill more experienced people that were laid off, won’t initially have the skills to do their new jobs.   Sadly, as stupid as this is, it is also not uncommon.

Way too many CEOs, and boards, that seem to think most jobs can be done by most anyone tend to focus so much on salary containment they kill the company off over time.   It doesn’t matter how good you are or how high you are; you’ll never be able to overcome that level of idiocy. Basically, this means they don’t value your skills and you’d be vastly better off, if you have marketable skills, going someplace else where you and your skills are valued.

 

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