Negotiating Employment ServeranceFacing employment termination? Getting laid off is never pleasant. But you can ensure that you have a good handle on your near future if you prepare to negotiate your severance package. Here are some tips to help you negotiate.

Keep your Cool

Don’t let your company pressure you into signing immediately. They may give you only a few days to consider and sign. Always remember that this date can be extended if you ask. You are allowed to have an attorney advise you, so if you need more time to get the proper advice, ask for it. Even if you don’t hire an attorney, take the time to think about what you need from the severance package and make sure you have a cool and level mindset when you move into negotiations. High emotions and feelings of upset will only derail the process for you.

Do Your Homework

Consider all the pieces of the severance package during your employment termination. It may or may not simply be a monetary amount. Have they offered you any additional benefits? Is your healthcare being covered for a certain period of time? Is your accrued paid time off accounted for in the package? What about stock? Equity? The more items you can think of, the more bargaining chips you have in the negotiations.

If you want to negotiate for more compensation for your employment termination, make sure you know what the playing field is. Don’t make the mistake of asking for such a high number that they balk. Once you understand what is reasonable, ask for a bit more than where you would like the final number to land. Whenever you begin the negotiations, you need to factor in that you will be negotiating them up and that they will be negotiating you down. If you start at your desired outcome, you will fall short of it after the negotiations are done. Start a little higher, so that when it gets negotiated down, it will land somewhere close to your ideal outcome.

Letters of Recommendation

In any employment termination always ask for a neutral reference. If you were an excellent employee, consider negotiating for strong letters of recommendation from your supervisors.

Consider Non-Monetary Items

If the company holds firm on the monetary amount, begin to negotiate other items. You can ask to be paid out for your PTO, for example. Bring more value into your severance package, even if it may not be a cash amount. Sometimes, the need may be unusual, but use it to your advantage. For instance, when I was laid off, I needed the end date of my employment to be pushed out by two months, because I was in the middle of purchasing a home. The company agreed. The more clear you are about what you need, the more creative you can be about what you ask for.

If you are being given the option to pay for healthcare such as COBRA after your lay-off, ask the company if they would be willing to pay for your premiums for a certain amount of time.

Ask your company if they offer outplacement assistance. This is a service that companies can offer their laid-off employees as a way to help them find their next job. If they have invested in this service, you can negotiate to have them offer this to you.

Preparation is Key

Preparation is the key to success. When I provide negotiation coaching I always teach my clients to do their research in preparation for the negotiation.Be thoughtful about what help you may need in the coming months. Tailor your demands to address these needs while still playing within the ballpark of what is reasonable. If you reach an impasse with these negotiations, employment mediation can help. Mediation allows the parties to have a facilitated conversation with one another in a safe environment. Parties can explain their point of view and perspectives. Once they come to a place of understanding, they can use the help of the mediator to create a framework for future interactions with each other. This framework is then turned into an informal agreement and signed by all parties, with the understanding that moving forward mutual respect will be what all parties strive for.