Securing a redundancy package

Do your detective work

You need to work out exactly how much a redundancy package would be worth to you. If information has been released about your company’s redundancy terms, even if it is in a department other than your own, try to find out what the terms of the deal are for people at your grade. It is likely that the terms for each department will be broadly similar.

If the information is not directly available to you, be circumspect in your research. Redundancy may be a voluntary programme in your organisation at present, but circumstances can change quickly. To prevent anybody from being able to force your hand, don’t share your plans until you are reasonably certain of being able to secure terms, and have made your final decision to leave the organisation.

Develop plans

If you accept redundancy, how will you cope financially? A redundancy package may seem like an enormous sum when it is first paid, but it will need to ‘bridge’ you, financially, for the whole of the time between your old job and establishing a new stream of income. So spend some time looking at our section on dealing with changing finances, and focus on your plan for what comes next.

Also look at our page on redundancy payments for details of the tax implications on redundancy packages.

Take time to firm up a decision on what you would do after leaving. Managers and HR departments are sometimes better disposed to granting one-off redundancy settlements to employees who have a clear idea of how they would use the opportunity, for instance, to go to University or start a business. Be able to articulate in a sentence or two what you plan to do with your redundancy.

Develop your personal strategy

Once you are sure you really want to go for a redundancy package, you need to manoeuvre yourself into a position where a package is more likely to be offered. If there are packages being offered in departments around you, then your chances may be high. Be aware, though, that there is always a measure of risk associated with trying to position yourself for redundancy, as well as a measure of uncertainty, which can go on for several months. You need to be happy with both before proceeding.

It is useful to remember that…

  • If you are thinking of leaving with redundancy, it’s probably time to start looking for something else anyway, whether terms are offered or not
  • If you are not accepted for redundancy, it may be because the organisation values you more than you realised – which is an opportunity
  • If you are reorganised into, or successfully apply for, a new job, it may well be a better job than you started with
  • If you are not successful at getting a package at this time, there may still be opportunities to do so in the future.

Be ready when the opportunity comes

Before taking any action, take a look at the section on researching the health of your department and your company in the ‘am I at risk?’ page of this website. It may be that redundancy options are already headed toward you, and all you need to do is wait for them to arrive in due course. By being ready with your decision and your plans, you are in a position to make sure you secure your package, and take advantage of any enhancements that may be on offer for early sign-up.

Some employers encourage early sign up by offering packages with terms that reduce the longer you leave it to sign up – you don’t want to lose out by dithering!

Be aware of any qualifying criteria

Some employers are tightening the criteria for employees who wish to take redundancy. A favourite is that an employee must be neither a particularly high perfomer – because the business does not want to lose its stars – nor a poor performer – poor performers are increasingly being managed out of the business under performance management strategies, rather than offered redundancy.

If you are certain of your decision to leave, work to position yourself as a solid performer who meets all targets and exceeds in some. The aim is to be so solidly in the middle ground that you cannot fall foul of anybody’s need to hit targets or quotas in the performance management process.

Take advantage of a reorganisation

Reorganisation is often a signal that the organisation is being slimmed down. There may be a formal process of selection for the available jobs after a reorganisation, and redundancies offered before, during or after the selection process. If terms are not offered at the start of the process, align yourself to vacancies where there are contenders stronger than you are, in areas where you have a real interest.

If it is clear that there are many more people applying than vacancies available, and you have a good trust relationship with your manager, you may wish to indicate that you would be willing to look at redundancy terms as well as opportunities for various roles, provided doing so would not commit you to anything.

Watch where opportunities are being offered

If there is no sign that redundancies are being offered in your area, it may be worth watching for areas where redundancies are being made, and trying to broker a deal to swap places with someone who is facing redundancy and wants to stay. This will only work if you are not critical to the success of your existing team. It also depends on your having a strong relationship of trust with your line manager.

Situations in which a swap can be marketed as an advantage would include:

  • Where you are relatively highly paid for what you do, and your department could make a saving by hiring someone of a lower grade or less experience
  • Where additional or different skills could be brought in which would benefit your existing team
  • Where the other department is having trouble getting the number of people they need to agree to redundancy
  • Where there is a high performer in the team making redundancies which the organisation would like to keep.

The key is to propose something that would potentially be a win-win to all the parties concerned, including yourself. This is where it pays to have a clear idea of what you want to do, which can be articulated well. Your management line and HR may well look favourably on the proposal if it means you can fulfil an ambition too.

What if I put my name forward for voluntary redundancy and don’t get it?

In general there are two reasons why redundancy may be refused. One is that the organisation wants or needs to keep you. The other is that you are perceived as a poor performer who needs to be managed out of the organisation. For this reason, manoeuvring for redundancy is a very high risk strategy if your record of performance is anything less than solid.

In general, provided you have sought redundancy for the right reasons – for instance, to fulfil a personal ambition – it should not count against you in your career with the company. It will help you have a statement prepared about what you have done with that ambition, how you feel about staying with the organisation, and why, having considered leaving, you now feel you can give 100%.