No one wants to actually think his or her value is such that their company can function without them.
Be it you screwed up, or restructuring, business conditions, outsourced, or whatever fancy term Human Resources has decided to use for termination due to no fault of your own.
The bottom line is you are without a position and a paycheck.
I was all cried out…
I must admit that this is the absolute worst part of Human Resources’ duties. I personally used to cry before and after during our layoffs. I even created the most heinous HR offense of crying during the exit interview with someone being terminated. Can you imagine being terminated by HR and they’re crying during the entire meeting?
I think this was one of my worst moments as an HR professional. What happened? Why did I fall apart? It’s simple. I took my company’s actions personal for whatever reasons. It caused an overflow of feelings and emotions that I could not control and hence it lead to me crying during the employee’s exit interview.
I got help…and a plan
I am grateful to have had an amazing life coach that helped me with my view of layoffs. After I explained to him my crying offense, he made one statement that changed my view of how I approach layoffs. He told me that my energy of how I conduct the exit interview plays a huge role in how the terminated employee will go out into the world for their next adventure.
If my energy is sad and angry, I push that nonsense off onto the unwilling employee. Well, Sassy HR Girl had to basically check herself and come up with a new plan for these unwanted and undesirable meetings. What’s my point in sharing this with you? We all need to have a plan for that unwanted and undesirable meeting.
What to ask for when it’s time to get the chop whether fired, laid off, or whatever the term is coined at the time. Companies vary in what they will provide. Do your research and use the below as a guide and NOT the law.
• Decide on whether you want to resign, or get fired. This may seem like an odd issue, but there are circumstances when you may wish to resign instead of being fired. If you are fired, you may be eligible for unemployment compensation, benefits, and severance pay. However, you may choose to resign rather than have the stigma of “getting fired” on your record. (You will need to disclose that you were fired if you are asked that specific question on a job application. If you resign, you can answer “no” to the question.) In some instances, you may even be asked to resign rather than be fired. Make sure you carefully consider the pros and cons of each response before making your decision. For example, you may not be able to collect unemployment benefits if you resign.
• Inquire about severance and outplacement assistance. Now is the time to negotiate, but don’t be pressured to sign anything if you’re not ready. Some employers won’t release your final paycheck until you sign a release, but that doesn’t mean you need to sign anything right away. Find out what’s available to you. Don’t be afraid to ask for severance.
• Ask how reference checks will be handled. What will a prospective employer be told if they contact the company? Will your supervisor provide you with a letter of recommendation? Can he or she take calls for reference checks, or are those handled through the HR department? What information will be released to the prospective employer? (Some companies will only verify dates of employment, job title, and final salary and will not answer questions related to why you are no longer working for the company.)
• Find out about your benefits. You may be entitled to accrued vacation, overtime, and/or sick pay. Ask about these benefits, and how they will be paid out.
• The company should provide you with information about continuing your health insurance coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) law. If the company has more than 20 employees, your employer is required by law to offer health insurance coverage through COBRA to terminated employees for up to 18 months. However, you will need to pay for this coverage yourself. This gives employees and their families the option to continue group health benefits provided by your health plan for a limited period of time. (Keep in mind, however, that the cost of COBRA coverage may be higher than insurance you obtain for yourself; however, if you have a health condition, you may want to opt for COBRA coverage initially to keep your coverage in force. You can always cancel your COBRA coverage once you have new insurance in place.)
• Information on transferring your retirement account with the company, if you have one. If you are enrolled in a 401(k), profit sharing, or other type of defined contribution retirement plan, you may be eligible for a lump sum distribution of your retirement money when you leave the company. You need to be careful about how you handle this distribution so that you don’t incur tax penalties. Retirement plan distributions have very specific requirements, so you may wish to consult a financial advisor before doing anything.
• Find out how — and when — you will receive your final paycheck from the company. (Again, you may be required to sign some paperwork before the final check is released.)
No one’s exempt, not even the successful
Absolutely no one is exempt from a layoff or termination for cause. Last month George Zimmer, the founder of Men’s Wearhouse, was terminated. If the founder of a company is not exempt, why in the world would any of us think we are exempt from our company’s hatchet?
Not only was Mr. Zimmer the founder, his very distinct voice and slogan has been branded into our minds. When you hear that voice and slogan, you immediately think of the Men’s Wearhouse. It was absolutely brilliant marketing. Please note that management wanted to move in a different direction despite past successes.
This new direction did not include Mr. Zimmer. I have witnessed devastation on the faces of employees that believed they were exempt from termination either due to their past successes or perceived talent. My point is simple. You and I are not exempt.
We can get the big chop by our company whenever the company chooses. Don’t spiral into depression and panic as this should not be a shock given today’s economy. Consider this a simple tap on the shoulder as a reminder to have some type of plan in place should you be called to an exit interview for termination.
What did you do when you were laid off?
What did you do when you anticipated layoffs?
What help did you seek when you were laid off?
Please, let’s talk about it below in the comments section.
Wednesday, July 17: 3 Stories of Jobseekers Surging to Re-emerging From Job Layoffs