Voluntary Severance

My company is offering us voluntary severance. They want to cull 1000 employees, so they’ve given us two weeks to decide who wants to stay and who wants to go.

I can’t help but feel like I’m being asked to give up my seat on an over-booked flight.

Sinking ship man, jump off. Unless you have a seriously bad debt/savings situation that means you can’t afford to go 4-8 weeks without cash flow. In that case I advocate you keep your current job and get a second one until you’ve repaired your finances.

If you’ll get unemployment, think you can handle your expected time to new job, and think you can get a new job you’ll want, go for it. Free money.

Subject to them not being such a wonderful place that you’d never want to leave, but that sounds unlikely if they’re bribing people to get out.

Seriously, do companies expect their bad employees to leave when they do this stuff? Dumb.

How much is the severance package? That would weigh pretty heavily into any decision. I know some people who got generous severance packages in the dot-com era, and were back at work within a couple of weeks…double salary baby! :D

My thoughts exactly.
I know of a few journalists, that have left/switched jobs this way - and in all cases it’s been some rather good people taking the chance to a) either write ‘that book’ while still being paid, b) taking a long vacation or c) taking a teaching job or some other position, they allways considered but didn’t, because the pay was too low.
One of my best teachers in journalism school did a and c at the same time, and when the severance pay ran out, he had a new well-paid position.

Another qualified “yes” here, depending on the size of the severance package. 2 weeks? Bite me, I’ll wait to file unemployment, gambling that I might not even get laid off. 3 months? You have a deal, where do I sign…

Anywhere in between and it really depends on how bad the environment is, and what job prospects elsewhere look like.

Well, aren’t most of these packages weighted so more experienced(and thus expensive) employees quit? Like you get a month of salary for every year you’ve been with the firm or whatever. It makes sense when experience isn’t a huge factor at your job.

Just my own observations, but when I’ve had friends who had that situation at their job, it seemed like the severance round was just the first and most friendly round of layoffs, followed later by less and less attractive rounds of firings.

Certainly prepare yourself for the possibility of a job search, one way or another.

I know a couple of people at HP who took really big voluntary severance packages, which included early retirement. That meant they got health insurance.

Then they turned around and became consultants to HP for nearly 3x what they were making.

That soooo doesn’t surprise me. I’ve dealt with various bits of post merger HP and it astonishes me they are still in business. Such poor focus, poor organization, and no vision. They piddle a lot of money down their leg on silly things like you describe.

Another write-in vote for “it depends on the severance.” At the very least you want to start job hunting and networking. Layoffs will follow if they don’t get enough volunteers. And maybe even if they do.

It’s entirely possible that they still came out ahead on that deal, Nick. For example, if 1 out of 4 people came back as contractors, they’re saving 25%. Not to mention savings involved in supervisors that can be cut if only a subset of the people taking severance come back as contractors.

As independant contractors, the tax burden falls almost entirely on the contractor. HP no longer has to pay social security or medicare or whatever for those employees, who have to pay it themselves. They’re still getting health care (in this case), but they probably lost vacation, sick time, and so forth.

My dad did this with IBM (“retired” and came back as a contractor), and worked out of his house. That meant that IBM no longer was paying for an office and all the costs associated there, too.

It’s possible for a company to make that sort of deal and come out ahead. I seriously doubt HP is operating that way. The whole 3x pay thing means they are probably not saving money even when you factor in the costs of employing vs contracting. Even if there was a way to save money on such a deal, I have faith in HP’s ability to screw it up! :D

Aside from an mostly unhealthy crush on Carly Fiorina I have no love for HP. I just think that while they’re probably not saving much, that it’s likely that once they let folks go w/severance, it’s pretty easy to figure out what they can pay the X people they want back and still save some $$.

But yes, they could have screwed that pooch, too.

How easily could you get another job in your field, Roger? Hell I forget what it is you even do at the office (besides building your cubicle into a cave :P). If you expect you’d be gainfully employed again within a month, fuck yeah. Take the severance, get on unemployment for four weeks (you’ve certainly put enough into it), then start again at a new place maybe with a new title, better position, etc.

I’d think about what’s going to happen now that you’re spun off. I don’t know what the revenue/profit breakdown is between you and the semiconductor side of Freescale, but I’m assuming the majority of costs and revenue are on the semiconductor side.

If you think the semiconductor side is going to survive and/or do well on its own, then that probably means less shakeup for you. If they decide to concentrate on tools support for their own products, and less on game development platforms, I’m assuming you wouldn’t want to stick around. You have a better sense for how that’s going to go.

If you think the semiconductor side is going to tank, then you need to decide if you think they’ll bring the tools side down with them, or if you’re likely to survive intact enough to get sold separately as a part of the company that still has value. You may still not want to deal with that hanging over your head.

Get a feel for the job market out there, too. I know this is the first time in a while that none of my friends with technical degrees are unemployed, so anecdotally I feel like it’s less bad than it has been. But everyone I know that was in Texas has left or is leaving, so I don’t know what it’s like locally, or how attached you are to the area.

As other people have said, though, don’t expect things to get better soon. Even if you don’t take severance, have your resume up-to-date, check out job boards, personal contacts, and if you get a hint of a decent offer, go after it.

Hehe. The cubicle cave was back in the good 'ol days, when our CEOs used words like “masturbating cocksuckers” in meetings. After we got bought by Motorola / Freescale, things became less… edgy. My cube roof was a fire hazard, so I couldn’t put it up in our new digs.

I write a portion of the user docs for a suite of programming tools (IDE, compiler, linker, profiler, etc) that games programmers use to develop console games. Then, I take all the docs, both ours and whatever API/SDK references I can wrangle from Sony and Nintendo, and bundle them up into an F1-accessible help system.*

You know, if I were a 20-year Motorola veteran, I would totally take the severance deal; I’d get 52 weeks of pay. But with only six years under my belt, I only qualify for about three months. Not worth it, IMHO. Although if the axe were to fall, I’d probably use it as an excuse to start a photography business.


    • I’m also the informal first-tier tech support for all our docs writers, because I respond much faster than the IS department. :-)

If the axe falls, would you still get the same severance deal? I think you hit the button, they’re hoping people who have been with the company a long time (and are probably getting paid better) will take the deal.

I know I have been searching for a job in semiconductor manufacturing/processing, R&D, instrumentation, or lots more, in Dallas area for almost a year, on and off; though I still have a job to take pressure off so I don’t have to take a technician job or massive pay cut (which my company is already providing).

I don’t know how it is in Austin, but here the only jobs seem to be for 5-10 years experience running [brand I never heard of] [specific model] test equipment, no other desired traits, education, or experience.


My thoughts exactly.[/quote]

Seems like more “good” employees will take off and quickly get snapped up, the bad employees know what’s up and know better than to leave. The City of Las Vegas tried that and they were gutted as lots of quality people took the money and ran, leaving behind lots of not so quality folks. Depending on who you talk tho, they still haven’t recovered.