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Mistakes to Avoid when Negotiating a Severance Package

March 09, 20234 min read

Mistakes to Avoid When Negotiating Severance

It’s a scary topic, so let’s address the elephant in the room, layoffs are happening.  Though the reasoning is usually due to budgetary or business decisions, it is hard not to take it personally because, let’s face it, the impact is indeed personal.  Your livelihood, ability to support yourself and/or your family, your benefits…this all feels personal.  Add to this the daunting task of navigating through the details of a severance agreement, it can all be extremely overwhelming.  Especially when you factor in the emotional element of a job loss. The best remedy we can provide is knowledge.  Specifically, what to avoid when reviewing your severance package.  What should you be looking for exactly? 

Most often than not, you will be aware of a pending layoff for an organization. Whether you know for sure if your will be affected or not, it is vital to start thinking about the possibility of being included in an announced layoff and what that severance package could look like. It is also important to consider the job market, your and your family’s needs, and your contributions to the organization. I believe it is important to keep in mind that severance is not something that must be provided legally. Morally, it is humane to provide some sort of buffer between the separation of employment and their employee’s ability to obtain gainful employment again. Most companies usually offer severance in exchange for the employee’s release of claims from the employer. 

Continue reading for some things to consider if you are in a position to receive severance.  Avoid these mistakes in your negotiation. 

 Actually Negotiate

Many employees are not even aware that they have the option to negotiate their severance.  You do!  While there are no guarantees, the answer will always be no if you don’t ask. Review your severance amounts and see if this is enough to cover your circumstances. Of course, asking for a million dollars would be ideal but that is highly unlikely. 6 -8 weeks is pretty standard. However, some companies have offered up to 4 months of severance. This is solely dependent on the company and its policies.  So, advocate for yourself and ask!

 Don’t Forget to Include Health Benefits

This is a common oversight when receiving severance.  Some companies have the forethought to

Severance, Negotiate

include health benefits, but of course, many do not.  Health coverage is a big deal. You can ask for the dollar equivalent of COBRA coverage or you can request a stipend for COBRA coverage so that you will not have a break in your coverage. Keep in mind your termination dates as well.  Asking for you term date to be on the following month on the 1st may also provide an extension in coverage.  

Career Support

Did you know that some companies offer support in helping your find new employment?  One of the leading organizations is Lee, Hecht, Harrison (LHH). These companies offer career coaching and outplacement services that can aid you in your job search. If it is not offered directly, ask for it.  Provide a small list of outplacement companies for their consideration as well to ease in their effort to finds someone is they decide to accept your request.  As aforementioned provide support for your request for consideration. 

Provide Support for Your Request

If you are going to ask for more compensation monetarily, it is best to provide support for your request.  This provides additional consideration for the deciding parties to take into consideration.  You can include things like your contributions to the company and the length of time you have been there.  If you have a role with unique responsibilities and compensation you will be able to leverage this as well.  You can also discuss the current state of the job market in your location and how this will impact your ability to find new employment.  

Ultimately, asking for what you may need in the midst of this employment shift.  Business decisions usually have an impact on you in a personal way.  However, there is nothing wrong with asking for additional support as you traverse the job marked.   

Get Help    

Caged Bird HR is an employee first HR services provider and the first HR services company to provide all employees with access to independent HR support. If you need HR support, please book time with a Caged Bird HR Consultant here.  

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Kimberly Codrington

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