Slowly Sipping Coffee

Layoffs: The conclusion!

Midland oil fields

Oil wells outside of Midland, TX

Well, the day has passed. The day I have been dreading for about 6 months now (yes, that is how long ago the company announced layoffs, and how long it took them to actually make a decision). And I didn’t get laid off. And I am disappointed. I know I should be happy to retain my position and don’t want to sound ungrateful, so let me tell you why I am disappointed.

Originally, I was dreading being laid off – I even started acting more like a model employee to avoid being singled out. I was too worried it would destroy our FI date… because trust me, as Houston’s humid, hot oppressive summer rolls in, you can think of nothing else but of how many more you will have to endure. There has also been quite a bit of mental preparation and soul-searching going on in our house deciding what we need as a family, and as individuals.

Through this soul searching, one surprising personal revelation I had is that I want to teach. I always planned on being a teacher, but life and a high-paying job got in the way. I realized that not teaching is a large disappointment to me and if I never try teaching, I will regret that on my deathbed. This new personal goal of mine has caused huge ripples in our FI plans, because it made us realize that we will have income after we depart the corporate world. Likely, we will have enough income to live off of for a few years at least, and that makes a huge difference to the amount we need to save now.

Mr. SSC and I have strategized and planned, revising what our ‘next life’ looks like – post to follow shortly. Previously, we were going to both work our corporate jobs until the summer of 2018, while we amassed enough funds to pay off our house and build a nest egg that should last us forever. But, with the threat of layoffs, we realized that if I got laid off, Mr. SSC could work until 2018 as planned, and I could stay home and take care of the kids. This would allow Mr. SSC to have better work hours and avoid the morning rush hour, possibly saving him up to 30 min a day in traffic. We could easily reduce our expenditures that come as a factor of both of us working. The biggest cut would be daycare, which is currently a necessary expenditure due to work. A smaller cut would be the maids, which are more of a convenience and better way to spend our time vs. money. I would also have time to cook home-cooked meals, run errands during the week, and slow down the hectic pace of our lives… Currently, it feels like we are always rushing from here to there, hurrying the kids up, and it feels like we have an inexhaustible mile-long to-do list chasing us around. Plus, even with one income I estimate that we could still save a little bit of money each month. It sounds like a Win-Win to me!

In the lay-off case, I would take those few years off between now and 2018, and then find a faculty teaching job in 2018 or 2019. Even if it was just part-time, we could still afford to move to a better climate, a nicer town, and find a place to relax and enjoy our lives and children more. I would be doing something I love while making a little coin to offset expenses. This would let our nest-egg continue to grow to make up the difference of me leaving the corporate world a few years early. It seemed like the perfect scenario! I get to leave the corporate job I am comfortably miserable at, and in a few years I get to try my hand at my dream job. This is on top of the overall improvements these moves would make in our family life.

However, this new plan hinged on one thing and one thing alone – me getting laid off so I can get a nice little severance package. That failed! Damn!!! No lay-off, no switch to a stay at home mom, no family perks as a result of the layoff. Just sustained comfortable miserableness at the current place of employment. Sigh… Mr. SSC side-note: This reminds me of a John Prine lyric that goes, “Pretty good, not bad, I can’t complain. Actually, everything is just about the same…” Listen here

I’ve also been a bit down on my company.  My feelings were exacerbated by the protracted way they went about the layoffs and re-org. After announcing the upcoming layoffs and re-org about 6 months ago, they first had to “re-org” the whole department. Then the new org chart was released and people could see how big the cuts were for each team. For instance, one of our friends was on a team that went from 21 people to 11 people. Then the upper management had to apply for their positions, which took a month or so, and then it trickled down to us.

Everyone in my department had to apply for four positions. These could include their current job, someone else’s job, a totally different job outside of their current department, or a mix of all of the above. The applicants then got sorted, reviewed, and people were chosen to be retained or let go. The number of positions in my department were cut by 30% which is rough, but there were also candidates from other departments who could compete for our jobs because their current positions were no longer being retained. I heard there were ~600 employees competing for 321 jobs. There was no voluntary early retirement incentive that was being offered outside of the normal severance package.

Obviously, it was a brutal month of waiting between applying for the “new “positions and when we heard whether we got an offer or not. Originally, we were told we would hear by this last Monday the 5th. Then, HR realized a few days beforehand that they had to do lots and lots of work to prepare for layoffs, and well… it was delayed until Wednesday. Even then, in the heartless manner of corporate America, they first notified everyone who had a job, while letting those remaining employees that didn’t get an offer, sit around all day checking their emails every 5 minutes…. They even let them go home that night, with a sinking pit in their stomachs of not knowing. Thursday morning they set up meetings with HR and the “left standing” employees to let them know their fate. Heartless. I mean, I am not in HR, but I don’t see why you have to treat people whose lives are about to go into upheaval with such disrespect. It made many of us sick to watch how it was handled.

But, yes, I got an email, phrased with wonderful congratulatory prose with my new job offer (for my current job). I was so disappointed. Mr. SSC sidenote: I was also disappointed a little. While, I did have the option of not accepting the job – if I chose to not accept it, I would also not be eligible for any severance package. Sigh… I wish I could have traded positions with another employee on my team but that is not allowed.

Maybe there are 2 pots of gold at the end of those rainbows...

Maybe there are 2 pots of gold at the end of those rainbows…

So, it’s back to the drawing board looking at our FFLC timelines. I know at the minimum I’ll have to stick around until March (bonus time – if we even get one), and then maybe I’ll stick around through the summer. As long as Mr. SSC’s job remains secure (come on oil, just another $10-$15 bump) and no tragedy strikes our lives, I am pretty sure that I will be departing this soul-sucking corporate job by August 2016. While I am grateful I am still employed, knowing how much better our family life could be if I wasn’t working is why I am so disappointed. While I will most likely quit in the foreseeable future, it will be difficult for me to choose to do that because I’ve never “quit” anything. Even knowing the benefits for my family, it will still be difficult when that time comes. Sorry for dragging the post out so long, but it has been good to vent, and if you’re still reading, thanks for hanging in there!

33 thoughts on “Layoffs: The conclusion!

  1. Our Next Life

    Oh man, I’m so sorry your company handled this so badly! And though it’s weird to say sorry you kept your job, I am sorry you didn’t get what you wanted, and your FI vision has hit a temporary snag. :-( That stay-at-home plan sounded pretty nice.

    Look forward to reading about your next life! :-)

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      Thanks! I had a nice long list of “to do” items… now I’m bummed I won’ chance to attack it yet! But, hopefully things will go as planned and we can stay in super-saver mode for 6-10 more months and then I will ‘retire’ for a few years!

  2. Hannah

    About a year back, my company also had some layoffs (about 25% of my department was cut), and my dad asked if I was disappointed. At the time, I was, though I’ve realized that this extra year of working has made a lot of better options available to me and the family. Although a few months severance might have been nice, it’s been nice to take the transition to my husband’s stipend on our terms instead of my company’s terms.

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      I agree, staying on a few more months does help our family more with the FI plans. For me, I think I will have time quitting when the time comes, and being laid-off kind of takes the timing decision out of my hands.

  3. Steve @ Think Save Retire

    Well damn! I know how disappointing it can be to keep your job (that sounded awfully strange to type), especially if you don’t like it. Engineering your own layoff can be tough, but getting laid off is one of those things where if you do it right, it can seriously work out in your advantage.

    On the bright side, companies often times go through several rounds of layoffs, so maybe you’ll get another chance at some point down the road to get that severance.

    It really sounds like you guys are in the same position as me. We have no real loyalty to where we work, but we’re just soaking in the paycheck a little while longer until we can finally quit and begin doing something that we actually want to do. I think teaching will be a LOT more rewarding than what I understand your current job to be.

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      I can’t wait to teach – I had forgotten how passionate I am about it! I visited my brother in August (he’s a professor) and he kind of reminded me about how that has always been my dream too… and rubbed it in my face how awesome his job is. But, in a way, I am hoping for another round of layoffs, although that would be bad for my co-workers.

  4. Maggie @ Northern Expenditure

    Watching it all happen up here in Alaska has been so dramatic as well. I am sorry that you did not lose your job. One guy we know up here managed to get cut with a $300,000 severance package. He’s pretty much kicking his heels in delight. Your time will come. And although you miss out on the severance package, you get to choose the terms of your departure. There’s a pro in there somewhere… I think…

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      Sometimes it feels like a soap opera at work. I would love to get cut with a $300,000 severance package – that would pretty much have us hitting our FI goal!

  5. amber tree

    It feels strange to say to someone: Sorry you did not get laid off…!

    The severance package for sure would give a boost to your FI plans. These plans are now back to where they were before. So, that is the real bad news… hoping to get to a new stage in life and not getting it…

    I wish you all the best to overcome this temporary set back and that you find the good motivation token it up another year.

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      Its been weird at work acting happy that I kept my job :) I figure it will be okay to stick around a few more months, the holidays are coming around, and then winter – which isn’t too bad in Houston. Spring will be here before I know it, and then I’ll have to see if I have the guts to quit! I may need 6 months to give myself a pep talk to do it!

  6. Prudence Debtfree

    It is a heart-breaker – especially when you consider the people who would love to give you their severance in exchange for your job. I hope that you are able to leave your job before the original 2018 date planned. And I hope that you will find yourself teaching in a school within a few years. (That being said, I’m a teacher, and marking can be a soul-sucker too. I think the part-time option is the best.)

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      I know. There are a couple of great people who were let go, and I just felt so sorry that I couldn’t trade places with them. I gladly would have. I know teaching won’t be all rosey – but hopefully I can find a job in a great town and just teach a course or two a semester… that should leave me lots of time to still spend with the family!

  7. Brian @DebtDiscipline

    Sounds like a stressful situation all around. I can see how you’d be down on your company, the handling of this mess, and I’m sure the morale around the place is in the tank. At least this whole situation has given you some clarity for your future.

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      Yeah – the clarity I have is amazing. Even though I will stay here for a little bit longer, it feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulder!

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      I will look it up! Thanks for the idea! My main worry is expressing an interest in layoff to HR or management then Mr SSC’s job having issues (our industry is in a downturn). So, I am scared to mention anything too far in advance in case the situation changes with him.

  8. Tawcan

    Well first of all congrats on retaining your job but sounds like you have been looking forward to a lay off. Perhaps it’s time to engineer your own layoff and move on to the next chapter of your life.

    I think your company definitely mishandled this whole ordeal.

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      I agree – I don’t think there is a perfectly fair way to do a layoff, but I think it could’ve been done better.

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      I should follow my gut! I think the logical part of my brain (which is 90%) of it is still having trouble processing and accepting what I think is the optimum path for us as a family.

  9. Vawt

    To offer another perspective, being on the other side of the layoffs is not fun either. I have had the privlege of being on both sides and I think making decisions on who to keep is much worse. You realize the decisions you make will affect families and people will look at you differently. There are some easy decisions as it is usually obvious who the lowest performers are (and the highest too), but after that it gets really tough.

    Companies do try to make it easier, but often times the information comes out faster than they can communicate it. Sadly, sometimes it just goes terribly wrong, too. Sounds like your company falls into that latter category.

    I think the silver lining is it made you realize what you wanted to do. Hang in there until the time is right to leave or you find that teaching job!

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      I can only imagine how stressful it is to be on the management/HR side. I don’t envy the decisions they had to make. Yeah – I think our company just decided that silence was key in terms of communication… but it put the lower level managers in a tough place where they were so frustrated because they were being kept in the dark also.

  10. Jason

    As a professor I can say it is a great profession. Here is something you might want to even think about to satiate your need for teaching. Why not try to just teach adjunct at a local university. University of Houston has a great science program and they have two different campuses as you know. You also have some pretty good community colleges. I bet you could get a gig with your qualifications fairly easily. Did you teach when you were obtaining your advanced degrees? And when you have a faculty position, in some respects, I already feel I have FI. I mean I have tenure, I travel for my job and my wife (who is also a part-time faculty) travel on the university’s dime to international conferences. We just make a vacation out of it. Best of luck and if you ever want to discuss it further I love talking to other faculty in different disciplines.

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      I was looking at a job at UH just a few weeks ago for adjunct. The problem I am having is that they need recommendations, and I haven’t figured out yet who to trust with my secret at work. I did help teach a little while working on my PhD, and I teach internal courses at work now. Maybe I should start looking at some adjunct jobs sooner than later. Thanks for the pep talk :)

    1. Mrs SSC Post author

      Lol – season 2. We do suspect next year will get exciting! Its funny how these layoffs have spurred several of my friends at work to re-evaluate their career paths, and even though they made it past this round – they are applying to and investigating opportunities that will get them back on track to their dream jobs.

  11. Fervent Finance

    Wow isn’t it crazy how you can go from being nervous and worried about being laid off, to disappointed? Whatever decision you make, you should be happy & proud you’ve put yourself in a position where you have choices. Cheers!

    1. Mr SSC

      You said it! We did realize that we have done a good job so far of putting ourselves in a pretty unique position. Win, lose, or draw that was cool to realize for me. I keep up with it sort of kind of, but I’m slower on the uptake and don’t handle the day to day spreadsheet revisions and updating various scenarios like Mrs. SSC.

  12. May

    I hear you. We just lost a bunch of people this week and I was on some level wishing I was one of them and on the other hand glad I wasn’t it. Awkward situation to be in for sure. Sometimes these things have a way of working themselves out in ways we cannot even imagine. Hoping the next year at work is bearable and that everything works out.

    1. Mr SSC

      I agree that we almost never know how things will work out. If I could have written my life plan and goals when I was 16 I would have sold myself so short, it is sad to think about.

      I’m glad you made the cut at your office, and I hope with you that your next year is better than bearable, but enjoyable! It reminds me of Ren and Stimpy’s “Log commercial” song, “…It’s better than bad, it’s good!”

  13. MrFireStation

    Sounds like an odd way for a Megacorp to go about layoffs – and awful to stretch it out over 6 months. We’re about 5 months from our FIRE Escape date, and my MegaCorp has also announced layoffs. The packages aren’t rich enough to encourage me to go early and no one from my team will be impacted. The good news is that they are going to move fast and get it over with so everyone can move on with their lives.

    1. Mr SSC

      Yeah, they sure are sticklers about bureaucracy and inefficiencies and the layoffs just reaffirmed that. They did announce that in Mrs. SSC’s dept, they won’t go through another protracted round of layoffs like they just did because the VP realized, “It’s really unproductive and the billings for that time were horrible…” You think?
      That’s good your company is moving quickly with it. That seems like a way better way to go.

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