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My company has recently begun a restructuring process which will eliminate 1 of the individuals in the same/similar role as me. Even before this announcement I have started looking for another job. My manager who is making the decision about who gets laid off has indicated that it will not be me.

On one hand, I haven't secured another job yet and don't want to be found unemployed, but on the other hand I don't want to leave my company short-handed, and one of my coworkers (who I respect) jobless. I think I have a good chance of landing another job, and telling my boss will prevent those problems and potentially get me a severance package on top of it.

Given the situation, is it appropriate to have an off-record conversation with my manager, or would it be better to keep quiet despite the potential problems to my company until I get a firm job offer?

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I assume you're doing everything you can to get a fast answer from your prospective employer, including explaining the situation (without reference to the severance pay)? –  espertus Feb 23 at 20:04
    
Hey user, welcome to The Workplace. Great question! In order to make this more accessible to people in the future, I'm making an edit to make the question and title clearer. If you think I left out something important, please let me know, or edit yourself to fix it. Thanks in advance! –  jmac Feb 24 at 1:09
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would it be better to keep quiet despite the potential problems to my company until I get a firm job offer?... Don't get me wrong, but it's not ur company. You are just working for them. Do what it is best for you coz they will do what is best for them if they had the chance. –  Songo Feb 24 at 2:13

3 Answers 3

Before breaking the news to your superior, I'd make very sure first that you have a new job. This means I would only tell this if I already signed a contract with the other employer. If you make your plans known prematurely you might end up being fired at your current position, and no new job to follow it up. Once you have a new job, I'd discuss this asap with your manager.

You might feel like you are holding back information, but sharing this with your manager could backfire, and you have a lot to lose. In addition, people leaving the company is a normal part of any business, and you should not feel bad about that. I would simply share your new job as soon as you are certain you are leaving.

In regard to the severance, if you tell your manager you are leaving for a new job you will probably not be fired, and you will not get the severance payment. You could of course try and make a deal of some sort with your manager, but this gets into ethically murky territory.

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Good answer, remember - your manager is not your family or friend. They are your manager. –  Benjamin Gruenbaum Feb 23 at 21:09
    
Good answer, but I think there is one crucial omitted aspect. Say the OP and X have the same position. If X is fired then the OP suddenly quits, the company is left with 2 missing people, instead of 1 as they planned. They would then have to ask X to come back, which would make the situation very awkward... –  Radu Murzea Feb 24 at 14:38
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@RaduMurzea that awkwardness, however, appears on the list of things that OP doesn't need to care about; as opposed to OP getting the push because his manager thinks he might be about to leave anyway, which I'd imagine is on the list of things OP needs to care about very much indeed. While I wouldn't ever suggest or approve of tripping up an employer or a work colleague for funzies, the OP needs to be looking after their own needs before those of the employer, or even person X. –  RobM Feb 24 at 15:47
    
@RobM while you are right that you must take care of yourself before anybody else (it's a very healthy lifestyle choice in my opinion), people often remember you by the last action you made. So, would you rather be "the great guy who was once on my team" or "the guy who suddenly walked out the door in the least inspired moment possible, putting us in an awkward position" ? As it seems, one decision is the compromise of the other, it may take a certain eye for detail when choosing between the two... –  Radu Murzea Feb 24 at 18:56
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@RaduMurzea if only there were some kind of middle ground between "great guy" and "guy who walked out". We could call it "handing in a month's notice and working in a professional manner to hand-over during that time." –  RobM Feb 24 at 20:50

I would not tell your manager that you are looking and feel that an offer is imminent. This opens up a can of worms that you may not be able to clean up.

Your boss may decide to lay you off instead, and then what happens if the other job does not come through? Telling may lead to you being the #1 target.

I would not be worried about leaving your boss and others in a pinch. It is common to have an exodus of people voluntarily leaving a company after a round of layoffs. It is your manager's problem(s) in either case because they caused an environment of fear, uncertainty and doubt by having layoffs in the first place. They have to work though any issues that people leaving causes.

Getting a nice severance package shouldn't be a priority now and shouldn't change how you go about your business.

Once you have an offer in writing, and sign it and send it back in, that will be the time to tell you are quitting or discussing options with your boss. They may or may not pay you a severance package and it may be pointless to even try to get one.

I would also try to push the company you're interviewing with.

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There is one situation where I'd advise that you might want to talk to your manager sooner rather than later, and that's where there's the possibility of an extra payment for voluntary redundancy. Even in this situation, I wouldn't bring up that you've already got something in the pipeline. If your management knows that you might be willing to leave quietly for an enhanced payout, that might buy you more time to firm things up before actually having to sign on the dotted line.

On the other hand, if they've already told you that you're not in the firing line, they might not be willing to pay extra.

In any case, as a general thing, whether this sort of deal is likely depends (I understand) on where you are. Here in the UK, it's much easier to get rid of someone who's happy to leave and taking voluntary redundancy isn't seen as a bad thing, career-wise.

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A fair point but it's worth keeping in mind that an employer does not need to accept an employee's request to be made voluntarily redundant. –  RobM Feb 24 at 15:50

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