With companies such as Chrysler and GM announcing major closings nationwide and results from a recent survey showing that 45% of 228 of the largest employers are planning further layoffs in the next twelve months, hundreds of thousands of US workers can expect to receive pink slips in 2009. Still, US workers are clearly not doing their best to take care of their self interests. It turns out that in a global study about severance pay, US workers received the least amount of severance pay of 28 countries worldwide regardless of level or tenure. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Maury Hanigan, founder of Layoffcoach.com and severance negotiation expert, offers these 7 tips for negotiating a better severance package.
- Assume you will be laid off and plan for it. Regardless of how secure you believe your job is, think through the severance package that would feel fair and appropriate for you. You never do your best thinking under duress. Approach it like career insurance – have it ready just in case.
- Signers remorse. You need time to be sure you have your best deal. Also, if you are over 40 years old, federal law requires employers to give you seven days to consider your package. Don’t feel pressured.
- Approach the negotiation positively. Tell your employer that the package offered is good, and you would just like to add a few more things. If your demands seem overwhelming, or your attitude is contentious, your employer may not negotiate at all.
- Don’t focus on the weeks of severance pay. The formula for severance pay is often the least negotiable item in a severance package. To increase your cash compensation, focus on pro-rated bonuses, extended termination date or contract work.
- Finding a new job is top priority. Identify the resources your employer has that will help you find a new job. Information and contacts can be more valuable than cash if they help you find a new, steady paycheck.
- Confirm every interaction in writing. Within a few hours of each meeting or phone call, send an email confirming each agreement and listing the actions each side will complete prior to the next meeting.
- When you have most of what you want, fold. Employers are genuinely facing tough times and are not in a position to be overly generous. That doesn’t mean you should walk away with a thin package, but this is not the environment to be greedy.