In a compelling TikTok video, Brittany Pietsch chronicles her own experience of being laid off at Cloudflare, a publicly-traded tech company. The call involves an HR (Human Resources) representative named Rosie and another man, presumably also from HR.
The man begins by asserting that Brittany did not meet Cloudflare's performance expectations, but Brittany interrupts him, expressing her belief that she shouldn't be laid off due to insufficient time to perform.
As you watch the video, you'll notice the evident challenge Rosie and the man face in responding to Brittany's inquiries about the reasons behind her layoff. It becomes apparent that HR is relying on generic terms and lack specific details about Brittany's situation.
Another notable aspect is the absence of Brittany's manager on the call. This omission underscores the significant challenge and emotional difficulty associated with letting employees go. Keeping the manager off the termination call is likely to also protect the manager, since it seems like he was providing positive reviews to Brittany before her layoff.
All employees should watch this video to understand what getting laid off entails. For those who want to try and negotiate a severance, this video should also demystify the layoff process, thereby giving you greater courage to act.
Video: An Inside Look At How HR Lays Off An Employee
Stay On Top Of Your Company's Performance
If you want to negotiate a severance, stay informed about your company's performance. If you work for a publicly-traded company, attend quarterly earnings calls that cover results, strategy, cost-cutting initiatives, and more. A company's share price underperformance is a common signal that layoffs could be on the horizon.
If you work for a private company, pay attention to the internal performance metrics and management calls as well. Talk to frontline employees in charge of generating revenue if necessary. The worse the performance, the greater the risk of you being let get.
You should not be blindsided by potential layoffs. When I negotiated my severance package in 2012 my firm had already done plenty of layoffs since the 2009 financial crisis. With share price underperformance, annual layoffs were par for the course.
Approach Your Manager Before You Get Laid Off
The key to negotiating a severance is initiating a conversation about getting laid off before HR or your manager broaches the subject with you. Being proactive is crucial; if you wait until you're approached, you lose leverage as you're already perceived as expendable.
Approaching your manager about the possibility of being laid off makes the conversation easier for them, as you've introduced the topic. Consequently, they are no longer positioned as the bearers of bad news and are less likely to face retribution.
By bringing up the idea of getting laid off, you also open the door to negotiating a fair severance package. During this conversation, express your willingness to facilitate a smooth transition for as long as necessary. In return, propose a severance package equivalent to what was offered to previously laid-off employees.
In essence, not only are you reducing the stress on your managers associated with laying off an employee, but you're also volunteering to assist in a smooth transition without requesting additional compensation beyond what was provided to others in similar situations.
There is a reason why people break up over text or ghost people they don't want to disappoint. For the majority of people, laying someone off is difficult to do.
HR Is Mostly On The Company's Side
Brittany's video serves as a valuable resource for all employees, shedding light on the reality that job security is never guaranteed. The layoff conversation she captures with HR is a standard procedure, providing viewers with insights into what to anticipate if they find themselves on the receiving end of an unwelcome call.
Brittany makes a valid point about the challenges of demonstrating performance within a short timeframe, especially during the holiday season. In industries like sales, however, there often exists an “up or out” mentality. No sales means no revenue.
Securing a layoff with a severance package requires strategic foresight. Being proactive when aware of underperformance, whether on a personal or company level, is crucial. Waiting until the dreaded call comes leaves little room for negotiation.
Try not to get overly emotionally attached to your place of employment. Develop additional income streams and remain vigilant for new job opportunities. You should always be networking for your safety.
Lastly, it's essential to recognize that HR is not on your side. HR's primary allegiance is to the company, aiming to protect it from liability and lawsuits.
Consequently, you must be strategic in determining how much information to share with HR if you want to maximize your chances of receiving a severance package.
A Severance Package Can Be Highly Flexible
Many people perceive a severance package as simply a severance check, but in reality, it can take on various forms. Let me illustrate with my wife's severance package as an example.
As a high-performing employee, my wife successfully negotiated a six-figure severance package. Through several discussions, she secured a full-time salary for several months while working only two days a week. The company recognized that having some of her services was better than having none at all.
In addition to the full-time salary arrangement, her employer provided a standard two-month severance check and extended free healthcare benefits for six months. After a half-year hiatus, she was rehired as a consultant with a significantly higher hourly wage. She continued in this role for a year until the birth of our son.
This example highlights the flexibility and negotiability of severance packages, underscoring the importance of having a well-thought-out roadmap to guide the negotiation process. Her severance package also emphasizes the importance of being on good terms with your colleagues.
As background, I negotiated a severance package in 2012 that covered over five years of regular living expenses. This allowed me the freedom to travel and dedicate my time to building Financial Samurai. The priceless sense of freedom I've experienced since leaving the finance industry has been invaluable. If you're contemplating leaving your job, it's worthwhile to consider negotiating a severance.
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