When some people first hear that I engineered my layoff, they get up on their Clydesdales and say something like, “I would never do that. It sounds unethical.”
I’m always surprised by this response in this day and age of zero job security. No longer are pensions common. No longer do employers keep their employees fat and happy for decades. It’s a ruthless world out there thanks to globalization, technology, and cutthroat competition.
One could argue that if you’re not doing everything possible to fight for yourself and your family’s financial security, you’re the one being unethical. That or just ignorant. Quitting your job is selfish compared to negotiating a severance. If you don’t think so, then you lack awareness.
The only way that quitting your job is not selfish is if you were a terrible deadweight employee who was a cancer to your team. In such a scenario, quitting would be a godsend to your colleagues.
Let’s go through in detail why it’s always best to engineer your layoff instead.
Why Quitting Your Job Is Selfish
* Leaving your colleagues and your manager in a bind. If you broadside your manager and colleagues by quitting, you’re dumping all your work onto them. It often takes months to find a replacement, and months more to train your replacement to do a proper job. You create extra work for the colleagues you leave behind while also costing your company a tremendous amount of lost productivity.
* You hurt clients who depended on your services. If you are in a revenue-producing role, quitting your job one day means your clients can no longer count on you for advice or service. This is particularly disruptive if you’ve been their point person for years. Clients come to rely on people. By quitting, you’re telling them you don’t care about them, only yourself.
* You hurt your future job prospects. If you are so selfish as to quit on your colleagues and clients, you will have fewer supporters when you apply for a new job or want to start your own business. Nobody is going to write you a favorable recommendation letter when you didn’t give them a chance to properly transition your work and coverage.
* You hurt your reputation. Nobody likes a quitter, especially if you quit your job to lounge around on the beach for months while your old colleagues and ex-clients still have to work. They will resent you. Although today it’s common to job hop every 1-3 years, repeatedly quitting your job creates distrust. Your managers will not want to invest time or money in you because they are afraid you will suddenly quit on them like you did at your previous firm.
* You hurt your finances. This one should be obvious. If you quit your job, you aren’t eligible for a severance, 26 weeks of unemployment benefits, subsidized COBRA healthcare, WARN Act pay, and job search help. If you successfully negotiate a severance, you’ll have a financial runway that allows you to be pickier in doing something more meaningful with your life. You won’t feel the pressure to take immediately any soul-sucking job because of your need for money.
Why Do People Quit Their Jobs Instead?
The #1 reason why people quit their jobs is that they don’t know better. They think they are powerless employees who have no chance at walking away with money in their pocket. But given there are plenty of free blog posts and resources out there that teach you how to engineer your layoff, nobody can plead ignorance anymore. Which brings us to the second most common reason why people quit: selfishness.
If you are selfish, you don’t care if you dump your work onto your colleagues. Not my problem, you say. Selfish people don’t care about the well-being of the clients who’ve come to depend on them. Selfish people even compromise the well-being of their family because they’re too afraid to negotiate a severance.
Pretend you are a landlord. Wouldn’t you much prefer getting a six months heads up from your tenants saying they accepted a job in Amsterdam instead of a two weeks notice before Christmas? Of course you would, because you’d be able to more easily find replacement tenants and prepare your finances for a potential shortfall. But selfish people only think about what’s best for them.
The final most common reason why people quit their jobs instead of engineering their layoff is due to fear. Weak people are afraid of confrontation, partly because they lack the communication skills necessary to create win-win scenarios. They’d rather quit or break up with someone by text message, rather than convey the news face-to-face. Heck, if they could ghost the other side, they probably would.
Managers also fear confrontation. This is why the news that someone is volunteering to be laid off is often well-received. By volunteering, you are helping the manager avoid the often difficult choice of who to let go in the event of personnel reductions. You are also saving the job of the employee who might have been laid off had you not volunteered.
Some of you may ask what if you’re stuck in a toxic work environment you can’t stand. In such a situation, it’s even more important to attempt to engineer your layoff while concurrently looking for another job. There is literally nothing to lose if you want to leave your job anyway. You just need to do so in a respectful way.
You can tell yourself that negotiating a severance is beneath you, but you’d only be lying to yourself. The more you can help provide a smooth transition for those affected by your departure, the better everything will be after you’ve departed.
Don’t let your pride get in the way of doing what’s right for everyone. When you quit, you are simply transferring your pain onto someone else. Engineering your layoff is a win for you, your family, your ex-colleagues, and your previous employer.
Recommendation If You Want To Quit
I recommend everybody negotiate a severance if you want to leave a job you no longer enjoy. If you negotiate a severance like I did back in 2012, you not only get a severance check, but potentially subsidized healthcare, deferred compensation, and worker training. Since you got laid off, you’re also eligible for up to 27 weeks of unemployment benefits. Having a financial runway is huge during your transition period.
Conversely, if you quit your job you get nothing. Check out, How To Engineer Your Layoff: Make A Small Fortune By Saying Goodbye, on how to negotiate a severance. I first published the book in 2012 and have since expanded it to 180 pages from 100 pages in the 3rd edition thanks to tremendous reader feedback and successful case studies.
Graphic by https://ckongsavage.com