Sometimes an experience is so painful it’s helpful to try and forget it ever happened. But something recently transpired that has allowed me to relive my anxiety with all of you. It has to do with a severance package.
This post is an important reminder about the dangers of written communication. Always be careful with what you write and send online.
One E-mail Almost Ruined My Severance
In early 2012, after months of negotiating a severance from a day job I had held for 11 years, I almost screwed myself out of absolute freedom due to one damn email.
As part of my exit instructions, I was told not to transfer any proprietary work information to my personal accounts. This made sense because taking what didn’t belong to me would be considered theft.
Every company’s worst nightmare is having an employee copy sensitive information that can be used against them at a competitor or made public. The second company’s worst nightmare is when a disgruntled employee badmouths a firm to the press or over social media. This second reason is why negotiating a severance is more possible than you think.
My situation was different. Part of my severance negotiation strategy of keeping all my deferred compensation, receiving a lump sum severance, and getting six months of fully paid healthcare was predicated on me promising my firm I would NOT join a competitor. They couldn’t enforce this promise, but it was my intention to permanently leave the industry.
Convincing my employer I wasn’t joining a competitor was the only way I could stay on for two months after we agreed I would be laid off.
I wanted to stay on for two months to help ensure there would be a smooth transition. I also thought it’d be nice to collect two more months of pay and benefits without any work performance stress.
When you know the end is near, you try and hold on for as long as possible because change is scary.