How to Ask for the Severance Package that You Deserve
Today’s blog entry was inspired by a client whom I coached through a difficult situation at her work. She said it would be great to just give people an idea of what they can do for themselves, so if you’re reading this entry, hopefully it will help you or someone you know.
During my 13 years of coaching clients and in my own professional experience, I have witnessed every kind of workplace abuse: from mismanagement and harassment by bosses and employers down to bizarre and disturbing behavior from fellow coworkers. It’s unfortunate, but those of us who walk a straight line, work hard to take care of ourselves or our families, and just want to derive some kind of satisfaction from our work often end up turning a blind eye to unethical practices and general unprofessionalism for far too long before finally putting a foot down and saying ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.
If we try, we can usually think back to that fateful conversation or that ugly decision that we just couldn’t go through with: the moment when everything changed. No matter what led up to it, most of us are shocked when it happens. It feels like it comes out of nowhere. One day we are on the top of the world, our job is secure, and everybody loves us; but in just 24 hours, the managers, the executives, even coworkers can have a CHANGE OF PERSPECTIVE, and suddenly we are seen as a burden, an excess, an unwanted.
And that is when we become the target.
So, how do you deal with being transitioned out of a company that you had been pouring your heart into? The most important thing is, as the Brits would say, to KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON. No matter how difficult things seem or how unfair the situation gets, don’t lose your professionalism. Don’t try to come up with excuses or make up arguments to change anyone’s mind. Accept that what is done is done and start thinking about what you need to do to take care of yourself.
Remember, don’t involve Human Resources; their job is to support the company, so they have to remain neutral. After you have come up with an idea of what you need, you will work with the management in a discreet manner to secure the kind of severance package that you deserve.
People always say to me that there is no way they can ask for so much or no way anyone would listen to or care about their hardships. This is NOT TRUE. People get caught up in their jobs and in the business of their companies, but if you approach them as an individual and appeal to their personal side, they will usually be happy to do what they can to help. Besides, it doesn’t hurt to ask; NO ONE should be too proud to ask for help.
This is the part that people have the most difficulty with when trying to secure the best possible package: learning to humble themselves. Before you do anything else, find someone in the company that you can trust, who will keep your confidence, and confide in them. Tell them about your personal situation. Let them know that you need financial help, medical benefits, and time to find another job. Ask them for help. Right now, the most important thing to you should be taking care of yourself or your family. There is no shame in asking for help, and besides, some day they might be asking you for the same thing.
Here is a general outline for a statement of request which I have been using and modifying since I began coaching people:
I have been thinking about what happened regarding my employment this past month. When I was told that I needed to resign in two weeks, I was completely taken aback.
Now, I’m a professional and I have not discussed this with anyone nor mentioned the reason for why I am leaving, which has put me in a very uncomfortable position. I realize I haven’t yet communicated my needs because of the initial shock that I was in, but I need assistance during this transition to ensure that me and my family are not heavily impacted.
I’m sure you’re aware that I have loved working at this company and have devoted myself to the position. Since I am financially unprepared to make this transition, I would like you to consider the following:
I would like to remain in my position until I have secured other employment. I am looking for a job in one of the worst job markets in the history of our economy. Based on my research, it would take a minimum of three to six months to secure a job in a strong economy. It will likely take me longer than the amount of time you have provided me with.
I will continue to be a professional, and I believe we can make this a smooth transition for both our parties, but there are a few basic demands that I need you to meet: 1) I need a severance package. 2) I need benefits until I have secured other employment. 3) I need all my vacation paid out. 4) I need additional compensation to hire a career coach that can help me to navigate this difficult situation.
Go get what you deserve, and don’t forget to write us at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us your story!
I was suddenly laid off after nearly twenty years of service when the company decided to terminate its Fixed Income Department. I’m a stage-four cancer survivor (i.e. I have to have health insurance) and I have one child in college and one starting college next year. I had no idea what I was going to do, until I found dear jane. It turns out I was entitled to much more than I was being offered. Rebecca helped me secure an extra $50,000 and five more months of COBRA, and they even covered the costs of hiring her. Thanks Rebecca.
I had been with the company for seven years when I was laid off with no notice and offered seven weeks of severance. Because of my family’s situation, I simply couldn’t afford to not have health insurance. Rebecca helped me figure out what I should have been offered and how I could get it. After working with her, I was able to get an additional $13,000 in severance and an extra six months of health insurance!