I've worked at my current job for 2 years, during which I've made a great impression on the CEO and have personally furthered my own career, despite the workplace having a demoralizingly high turnover rate and underpaid employees. The company culture is mistrustful of upper management and they've been known to screw some people over if you aren't in the "inner circle." But as mentioned previously, I am pretty sure the CEO approves of me. While I'm appreciative of the opportunities I had here, I am now making plans to relocate to another country. There is currently no redundancy in my department and I've had a hard time getting the company to hire anyone to help me out with the high workload that I've had since I began working here.

I recently spoke with the HR manager after she raised concerns about my SO living in a different country, and we had a conversation about my goal to move and that the company ultimately can't provide me a job in the field that I truly want to work in. She mentioned that another colleague recently worked with HR to plan a one-month exit strategy that involved some extra compensation for the transition period before leaving, and suggested that I bring it up with the CEO so that we can get a replacement hired and trained, and that there might be something in it for me.

We have a meeting scheduled between myself, HR, and the CEO (who I am on relatively good terms with) to let him know that I will be leaving at some point and that we need to hire for my position. The problem is, I don't have an exact date that I will be leaving (anytime between summer and the end of the year, potentially.) I also want to position myself to get some kind of severance pay, as HR mentioned that she could probably negotiate to help with the cost of moving.

The problem is I am getting cold feet and am starting to worry about the downsides of letting them know months in advance that I intend to leave, even if the goal is so that we can hire and I have the time to train a replacement. (Related, it will take maybe 2 months to get someone fully trained to the point that I'd be confident in their ability to take over my job.) Is it possible/likely that they could cut my pay by bringing this to the table, or even fire me outright? Is a reasonable negotiating tactic to ask for a salary bump or a payout? I have never been in this position before and don't know what is common. Should I have another meeting with HR and get something in writing before we meet with the CEO that guarantees I will at least not lose my current job/salary if we have this meeting?

[EDIT]: I had the meeting and it actually went quite well! We are going to start looking for someone for me to train, and in the meantime we will collectively put together a project implementation timeline of deadlines we want to meet that I can get some extra bonuses for if I can make happen. And then depending on how much advance notice I'm able to give when I have an exact date, I can expect a severance package to match.

I recognize I'm very lucky that this turned out as well as it did. Thank you everyone for your sound reasoning; I'll keep in mind for the future that this is likely to not happen again.

  • 5
    I would never tell an employer that I intended to leave at some ambiguous point in the future. You never know the consequences of that action, even if planned. You also are forgetting HR is not your friend and is there to protect the companies interest. Good luck with this, I hope it works out for you.
    – Neo
    Feb 5 '18 at 17:25
  • see also: How can I prepare for getting hit by a bus?
    – gnat
    Feb 5 '18 at 17:41
  • get some kind of severance pay You want them to pay you for leaving them? Unless you are some kind of liability they want to get rid of (does not sound like it) you can saure forget about that!
    – Daniel
    Feb 6 '18 at 11:02
  • 1
    I had the meeting with them and it went well. They appreciated the heads up so that I would not be leaving them at a moment's notice with no one able to fill my role.
    – Alister M
    Feb 6 '18 at 16:06
  • @Daniel Any severance pay would be for the OP giving the company enough notice to hire and train a replacement, as opposed to them saying "Here's my notice, I'm off in two weeks. Son, you're on your own!".
    – TripeHound
    Feb 7 '18 at 14:39

First: You should plan on possibly losing your job at any point for any reason. Things happen completely outside of your control all the time.

That being said, I know of VERY few companies that would be willing to sacrifice critical knowledge in their staff for spite. If you're clearly communicating that you're concerned for the business, then I doubt they'd believe you'd have ulterior motives. They may have someone closely watch what you're doing to ensure you don't do anything damaging, but that would be it.

You have to understand that the cost of recruiting and training skilled talent is much more than most people realize. Anything that can reduce that cost is a "win" for the business. (That's why there are programs like "referral bonuses" where existing staff get bonuses for finding new talent.) The cost of recruiting a new skilled employee can easily be more than 3 months' salary for the position, depending on the field.

Your employer has to look at it this way: I have $X in my pocket. At the end of the week, do I want $X in my pocket, or the result of what Alister can do in that week? If you can speed training of a new employee, that's not a hard equation to work.

That being said, anything further out than 3 months is probably overkill. 60 days would be ideal.

  • Very rational answer. Unfortuntaly this: the cost of recruiting and training skilled talent is much more than most people realize. Includes CEO´s so I would not count on it too much...
    – Daniel
    Feb 6 '18 at 11:05

I think it's far too late for you to backpedal on this topic. The cat's already out of the bag since you've already discussed this with HR. Asking for any promises prior to meeting with the CEO is likely going to be seen as a bit strange at best - it's just too late - they know!

I agree with Wesley Long very strongly when he points out that in the US you should be prepared to be fired at any time, for any reason, but unless they do fire you, I would not be holding out for any kind of severance. Perhaps your company is special in this regard, and perhaps the HR person is sincere when she says she can negotiate someething like this, but I can also imagine this might be a "carrot" the HR person dangled in front of you to get you into an active discussion to minimize damage on their side. You will find out soon enough.

Now that you are somewhat forced to move forward with this plan, you should seriously think about when and how you can make your move, so that you can provide some kind of timeline ASAP. You need this as much as they do, so get on that.

If it were me, I'd be most interested in a signed agreement stating that I agree to stay on until x date to help hire and train a replacement, and they agree not to fire me in the meantime (or offer a payout).

Like any negotiation, be clear about your bare minimum requirements and be prepared to walk immediately if they are not met.

  • "be prepared to walk immediately if they are not met"? His aim is not to lose his job! Feb 6 '18 at 11:24
  • He has no protection whatsoever against losing his job, and by revealing to HR that he has one foot out the door already, he has substantially increased his risk. If he wants to protect his job to x date, his best course of action is to demand a mutually binding agreement that will actually protect him. If he approaches it from a position of weakness (ie "please don't fire me") he's inviting the employer to use him while it suits them, and toss him out as soon as they see fit, and you can bet that will happen without warning. To demand anything convincingly, you have to be willing to walk.
    – user82589
    Feb 6 '18 at 12:12
  • I agree with all that analysis. But I doubt that the other side will byte. They know that he/she has put him/herself in a corner. Unless they are afraid he has options to leave (for the other country) any time he/she likes. Feb 6 '18 at 12:15
  • Right. and really, is there any reason he can't leave NOW if they don't give him what he is asking for? Do they need to know the reasons he wants to wait to move? Is he really in a corner? We have no idea. But the employer doesn't quite know either, I suspect. Anyway, you have to stand up for yourself and if he indicates he will stay as long as they'll have him...well that's ok if you realize and accept that chances are increased that you'll get the boot at a time not of your choosing.
    – user82589
    Feb 6 '18 at 12:26

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