Hand raising with impending layoffs

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corp_sharecropper
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Hand raising with impending layoffs

Post by corp_sharecropper »

In the past when planned layoffs were announced at my Mega Corp, there has been the option of hand raising. For anyone that may not be familiar it means you are basically volunteering to be at the front of the line for headcount reductions, but it is no guarantee, especially if one's role isn't in the area the layoffs are focused on.

obviously this could make sense for someone who is very close to retirement and would enjoy the severance that they would otherwise not receive if they just retired voluntarily at any other time.

But let's suppose you actually weren't very close to retirement but for whatever reason you want it out and you thought getting severance would be nice as well. Do you think it would be a huge mistake to raise your hand and risk not being laid off? I have to imagine it would be quite awkward afterward, as you're basically saying you have no ambition to continue at the company. Is this career suicide? I ask because I personally have never known of someone in such a situation. I'm thinking of someone in their 30s 40s maybe even early 50s, with intentions to still work somewhere at least for a number of years more, who may be enticed by the severance and weighing it against the risk of not being employed and needing to find another job.

would love to hear your thoughts on this or any anecdotes you may know.
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mhc
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Re: Hand raising with impending layoffs

Post by mhc »

I have volunteered before, but I have never been laid off. When there is a strong job market, it can show that you are confident that you can get another job and potentially show that you are confident that you can make more money somewhere else. I believe if done properly, it can strengthen your position within the existing company.

If one is not a highly engaged employee or has some serious deficiencies, then it could turn out poorly.
Jack FFR1846
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Re: Hand raising with impending layoffs

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

Depends.

I worked at DEC when "packages" started and in some cases, entire groups were laid off. I saw in my own group, there were supposed guidelines that said that those with the lowest review ratings were to be let go first. We had one "walk on water" guy who got an offer elsewhere and talked with the manager and was put into the first group to be laid off in my group. This was a case where the entire company was in a downward spiral and nobody expected anyone to be gung ho for the company anymore, so raising a hand was not looked down on.

What's your company culture at present? Is this just a Megatech layoff excuse to rid the company of old, over 50 people who aren't going to be puppy dog energenic and willing to work extra hours for no pay just for the good of the company, filling out new, useless spread sheets or doing make work projects so one's time card is filled with all kinds of project codes? If that's the case, you want to be careful. Anyone over 28 is likely in some sniper's scope crosshairs, waiting for a reason to shoot you. Keep your head low and be anonymous.
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dbr
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Re: Hand raising with impending layoffs

Post by dbr »

I have known people early in careers that volunteered for such reasons as taking time out for child raising or to relocate with a spouse or with another job offer in hand. It was a windfall really because they would have gone no matter what.

I never met anyone that I knew would take severance mid career just for the sake of bailing with some cash in their pocket. As a colleague it would be no difference to me and really none of my business. I have no idea what different supervisors might think but would be inclined to say that given proven value it would not matter and given poor performance it would be good riddance, though I never knew anyone that was that badly regarded.

For some reason I was always in a department that never got a chance to bail even when it would have made sense.
oilrig
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Re: Hand raising with impending layoffs

Post by oilrig »

I did this a few years ago when I was 32 years old. The company (oil company) I worked for was hurting due to low oil prices and seemed like every year there were layoffs. Finally the last year I was there they asked for volunteers. I was looking to leave anyway so I raised my hand and told my boss that I wanted to find something in a more stable industry, and if my volunteering saved another coworker with a family, then that would be great. My boss understood and I left on good terms.

I had 3-4 months to find something else before my last day, so I was able to generate a few good offers and choose the best one. I received a lump sum severance of $60k and started work at my new job a few days after, also with an $18k sign-on bonus. Although the new job didnt work out the way I had hoped, I still feel like I made out like a bandit that year and made a ton of money along the way for not much work!
MikeZ
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Re: Hand raising with impending layoffs

Post by MikeZ »

Let me put it this way, I was laid off in October 2019. My severance was six weeks. My new job paid 22% more plus a target bonus of 15% instead of 5%. Long story short, if the company is having layoffs, start looking now. Don't wait for a severance.
StealthRabbit
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Re: Hand raising with impending layoffs

Post by StealthRabbit »

MikeZ wrote: Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:01 am Let me put it this way, I was laid off in October 2019. My severance was six weeks. My new job paid 22% more plus a target bonus of 15% instead of 5%. Long story short, if the company is having layoffs, start looking now. Don't wait for a severance.
Agreed.

If you have viable options or are ready to try something else, the sooner the better.

I volunteered for severance for 20 yrs of my 40 yrs in employment. It was no reflection on my career, daily tasks, or commitment to company.

I finally got picked the first time at age 49. 2 yrs free college and unemployment and healthcare + salary was good enough reason for me.

RIF Packages don't typically get better as time wears on. (sometimes they do, not often)

Always keep your options open. My previous company hired me back for some important international assignments that paid very well, including paid travel with my family. Never was quite as good of a job as first time, but the pressure and my attitude were much different. (Work as an option, rather than a mandatory task).

Plan for worst case, enjoy anything better. (such as multiple severances (I have reaped 3, coworkers as many as 5))

You (all of us) are easily replaceable. Even if they have to hire 4 people to replace you, it is of no consequence to you, or them... (Mega corp... lost in the numbers)/

I just wish they would have continued my Direct Deposit! surely that could have got lost in the numbers too :sharebeer
Hopeandaprayer
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Re: Hand raising with impending layoffs

Post by Hopeandaprayer »

I’ve done it. Took a package voluntarily at age 50 in 2011 without a good plan in place. Bad timing. The economy and hiring were still slowly recovering. Also, finding a job after 50 is harder than at 40. I’ve done OK since but did much better financially prior to 2011. You lose a lot of leverage when you are no longer employed. I’d think it through thoroughly, with your spouse if married, before taking the plunge.
GAAP
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Re: Hand raising with impending layoffs

Post by GAAP »

The younger you are, the more it can make sense. If you're older than 50, then I would assume that you won't be able to match your existing salary.

The more your particular jobs are used in the larger work environment, the more it can make sense. If you do specialized work in a specialized industry, finding a new job may be much harder.

I volunteered at 58 and was accepted, after not having the option prior times. However, I also commented about having the option in a prior year that was interpreted the following year to mean that I might want to do so -- when I didn't.

If Megacorp has been having layoffs over several years, then I would suggest looking elsewhere anyway.
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123
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Re: Hand raising with impending layoffs

Post by 123 »

I've raised my hand in a corporate merger/downsizing situation. I (and others) were gratefully accommodated and went on to great jobs elsewhere. Some people did extraordinarily well in their subsequent jobs, to think they would have not have had all that success if they had stayed with the "old reliable" makes me shudder. Raising your hand can be a good way to re-boot your career, it's better to leave at the beginning of the purge (when the packages can be enticing) than to be the last hold-out who other potential employers might regard as leftovers.
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barnaclebob
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Re: Hand raising with impending layoffs

Post by barnaclebob »

One of my friends rose her hand for a layoff in her mid 30's because she wanted to go back to school for another degree change career direction and travel. She ended up coming back to a similar role as a contractor but will probably be able to find a job where shes a direct employee at some point. She said once you account for buying your own healthcare and saving the same for retirement, the total compensation isn't any better.
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Ramjet
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Re: Hand raising with impending layoffs

Post by Ramjet »

I volunteered at the start of my career, it was my first job after college and I was 4 years in

New employer did ask why I left my last job and I simply said my department was being absorbed and I took an incentive package

FWIW it took about 3 months to find a new job
snowman
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Re: Hand raising with impending layoffs

Post by snowman »

I did it, in my early 40s. My megacorp was going to be acquired by another megacorp. I wanted to leave, didn't like the company culture. Was hired few years earlier due to skills and experience the company didn't have but wanted to compete in that space. Built a good team of young people, eager and willing to work harder and for less than current employees. Culture became toxic, company wasn't being competitive, so the solution was to merge the 2 units together, and me being the manager of the group. Realized at that time how underpaid my highly productive unit was compared to largely unproductive legacy employees. People found out and started leaving, one by one.

Several months later, execs decided to sell company to competitor. Couple weeks after that, voluntary packages were announced. Of course, they were targeting highly unproductive dead wood, mostly in their 50s and 60s. What do you think happened?

I, my entire (former) unit with one exception, and my boss all volunteered. None of the people targeted volunteered, not one! And I did not blame them - they would not be able to find such a cushy, well paid job anywhere in the country. They would be looking at 50% cut, at a minimum.

Anyway, did it hurt me to raise my hand? Not really. At megacorp, these thing are run by HR after consulting legal, they need to cover all of their bases to avoid discrimination lawsuits. If they don't get enough volunteers to fill available slots, ALL volunteers must be allowed to leave. My bet was that none of the lifers will volunteer, so we would be pretty safe to get it. In the end, we all got it and left.

Now, this was very specific situation, your company is likely in different shape. However, here is what happened next at my former company. Three months after merger, another voluntary package was announced, this time much less lucrative! Guess what happened next - involuntary package was announced, much worse than already mediocre voluntary package before. They finally got lifers they wanted all along. Moral of the story? If you want to leave anyway, take it while the going is good. The first round of packages is always the best.
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Watty
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Re: Hand raising with impending layoffs

Post by Watty »

If you are on good terms with your manager informally sound them out "just out of curiosity" if they thought it would be likely that you would be accepted if you volunteered for the layoff.

I was once working with a company that had a voluntary layoff package and a few days after it was announced I was talking with my manager. I was thinking about taking it. I might have asked him something like if there had been many volunteers yet and without me even directly asking he told me not to apply for it since our group was so backlogged that they would not layoff anyone in our group.

If you are going to apply for it then you might want to do it sooner than later. My understanding was that to help avoid discrimination lawsuits that sometimes the order that people applied for it makes a difference since if they can just say that they picked the first people that applied.
almostretired1965
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Re: Hand raising with impending layoffs

Post by almostretired1965 »

As others have mentioned, if you have a good relationship with your manager, I doubt that there will be any long term consequences. I've never been able to pull it off, but a good friend did. He was a director in charge or around 40 ICs doing software development. He had a very good relationship with his VP, but was planning to leave shortly and had a new job lined up. Lay offs came up, and he got his boss to put him on the list. I was contemplating leaving the same employer despite expectations of a promotion, and actually joined him at his new firm a few months later, but I was not able line things up, as it were.

The market might be hot enough right now that doing it without having something lined up will turn out OK. But normally, it's a bit risky if you don't secure something prior to being laid off. Regardless of the circumstance, getting let go is a signal to hiring managers that you may be a poor or below average performer.
downshiftme
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Re: Hand raising with impending layoffs

Post by downshiftme »

So much depends on your manager and corporate culture. When we were conducting layoffs, I always appreciated folks who volunteered because that was one less person I had to involuntarily layoff. I had a good team and didn't want to let anyone go, so there was no pruning deadwood. Every cut was going to hurt, but forcing out one less person who didn't want to be laid off was welcome.

In other companies, I have seen managers who not only didn't layoff people who volunteered, they treated them like disloyal pariahs after the layoff, gave them the least attractive assignments and eventually forced them out when there was no incentive pay or severance. In unhealthy companies, volunteering can lead to unhealthy results.
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Brianmcg321
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Re: Hand raising with impending layoffs

Post by Brianmcg321 »

This has happened about 4 times where I work. There have been a couple of people where they delayed their layoff a year or so, and one they told no to.

It wasn’t a big deal for the guy that got the no. He worked another few years and then retired.
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Longdog
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Re: Hand raising with impending layoffs

Post by Longdog »

corp_sharecropper wrote: Thu Feb 13, 2020 9:16 am But let's suppose you actually weren't very close to retirement but for whatever reason you want it out and you thought getting severance would be nice as well. Do you think it would be a huge mistake to raise your hand and risk not being laid off? I have to imagine it would be quite awkward afterward, as you're basically saying you have no ambition to continue at the company. Is this career suicide? I ask because I personally have never known of someone in such a situation. I'm thinking of someone in their 30s 40s maybe even early 50s, with intentions to still work somewhere at least for a number of years more, who may be enticed by the severance and weighing it against the risk of not being employed and needing to find another job.

would love to hear your thoughts on this or any anecdotes you may know.
If you truly want out of the company and volunteer to be laid off, but aren't laid off, what's the risk? That they lay you off subsequently? Isn't that what you wanted? And if not, wouldn't you start looking around for another job anyway, because, as you said, you want out? The only advise I'd give is to be sure you truly want out. And if that's the case, then it's better to go out with severance than not. And if you're not sure, then don't volunteer.
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jminv
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Re: Hand raising with impending layoffs

Post by jminv »

corp_sharecropper wrote: Thu Feb 13, 2020 9:16 am In the past when planned layoffs were announced at my Mega Corp, there has been the option of hand raising. For anyone that may not be familiar it means you are basically volunteering to be at the front of the line for headcount reductions, but it is no guarantee, especially if one's role isn't in the area the layoffs are focused on.

obviously this could make sense for someone who is very close to retirement and would enjoy the severance that they would otherwise not receive if they just retired voluntarily at any other time.

But let's suppose you actually weren't very close to retirement but for whatever reason you want it out and you thought getting severance would be nice as well. Do you think it would be a huge mistake to raise your hand and risk not being laid off? I have to imagine it would be quite awkward afterward, as you're basically saying you have no ambition to continue at the company. Is this career suicide? I ask because I personally have never known of someone in such a situation. I'm thinking of someone in their 30s 40s maybe even early 50s, with intentions to still work somewhere at least for a number of years more, who may be enticed by the severance and weighing it against the risk of not being employed and needing to find another job.

would love to hear your thoughts on this or any anecdotes you may know.
I stayed and still got the severance they originally offered when I left. I was also told privately not to volunteer. Company already had an idea of who they wanted to keep and who they wanted gone. While they were waiting for people to volunteer they were getting a little irritated that a few people they wanted gone hadn't taken up the offer. They would also take offers from people they were indifferent to. So not really career suicide to volunteer. These kind of deals are especially common in certain industries.

Looking back, I should have just volunteered anyway and taken the severance since the downsizing just made me do twice as much work, more than twice as much stress, for the same pay. I already knew I wanted to do something different and ended up deciding that awhile later. Sure, I netted the salary in between that but it wasn't all that pleasant. So if you think you're going to be miserable if you don't volunteer to go, then by all means volunteer.

If you want to volunteer, start actively looking for another job while you're still employed. It's easiest to find a job when you still have one.
peratio
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Re: Hand raising with impending layoffs

Post by peratio »

I'll share my experience. My megacorp was going through successive rounds of layoffs and I was asked if I wanted to volunteer since the next round was going to offer half the amount of severance per year. My boss told me I wasn't at risk for layoff. He had always been happy with my performance and said my job was needed. My wife's mother had just died and her father was terminal so lots of changes were going on, and I had seen this coming so I had figured out I was FI and thought I might enjoy a career change. I told him I would consider it. After I discussed with my wife, I found out she was totally against the idea. She thought I was too young being in my early 50's.

I only had a few days to consider the offer so I went back to my manager and said I wasn't interested. A week later he was terminated. A week after that his boss dropped by my office and said they were downsizing my position. I had a lot of excellent experience in a wide range of business operations and didn't think finding another job would be difficult. I had interviews lined up within 2 weeks and seemed to get plenty of interest from my applications. 9 months later, after over a dozen of on site interviews that aligned well with my experience, I hadn't landed anything. This drove my wife crazy. I ended up taking a retail job at about a 1/5th of my previous salary just to get her off my back. Of course, once you do that you aren't likely to go back to a professional job when you are in your mid-50's unless something works out well for you. So I call myself partially retired although I am full time with a difficult retail schedule and minimal vacation. I could quit tomorrow as I have plently of assets except for the home life situation, although I do appreciate having an option for employee sponsored healthcare. I have access to retiree healthcare from megacorp but that could evaporate at a moments notice.

Bottom line, be careful what you ask for and be 100% sure you are ready when they take you up on your interest.
oilrig
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Re: Hand raising with impending layoffs

Post by oilrig »

peratio wrote: Fri Feb 14, 2020 11:11 am I'll share my experience. My megacorp was going through successive rounds of layoffs and I was asked if I wanted to volunteer since the next round was going to offer half the amount of severance per year. My boss told me I wasn't at risk for layoff. He had always been happy with my performance and said my job was needed. My wife's mother had just died and her father was terminal so lots of changes were going on, and I had seen this coming so I had figured out I was FI and thought I might enjoy a career change. I told him I would consider it. After I discussed with my wife, I found out she was totally against the idea. She thought I was too young being in my early 50's.

I only had a few days to consider the offer so I went back to my manager and said I wasn't interested. A week later he was terminated. A week after that his boss dropped by my office and said they were downsizing my position. I had a lot of excellent experience in a wide range of business operations and didn't think finding another job would be difficult. I had interviews lined up within 2 weeks and seemed to get plenty of interest from my applications. 9 months later, after over a dozen of on site interviews that aligned well with my experience, I hadn't landed anything. This drove my wife crazy. I ended up taking a retail job at about a 1/5th of my previous salary just to get her off my back. Of course, once you do that you aren't likely to go back to a professional job when you are in your mid-50's unless something works out well for you. So I call myself partially retired although I am full time with a difficult retail schedule and minimal vacation. I could quit tomorrow as I have plently of assets except for the home life situation, although I do appreciate having an option for employee sponsored healthcare. I have access to retiree healthcare from megacorp but that could evaporate at a moments notice.

Bottom line, be careful what you ask for and be 100% sure you are ready when they take you up on your interest.
Wow! Did you receive the original severance package from your old company?
peratio
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Re: Hand raising with impending layoffs

Post by peratio »

Yes I did so I had a full year of of severance payments and also received my bonus which paid out on the normal date which was 2 months after I left but while i was still receiving the monthly severance checks. So that all worked out great except for the difficulty in finding equivalent work.
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