Dear Verizon employees:

By this point, you've no doubt heard that Verizon will pay you three weeks' salary for every year of service, if you leave the company voluntarily. You're probably wondering whether you should stay and hope for the best, or should you take the money and run.

Stop wondering. Take the money. Tell your boss--today--that you want the severance package. Regardless of how long you've worked for the company, the money is a much better deal than what's coming down the pike. Here's why:

1. Voluntary layoffs create an exodus of talent.

The moment Verizon announced the package, the most talented people--the ones who have skills most in demand--immediately put out the word that they're available. They'll be hired quickly, so for them the severance package is a sweet bonus.

That's nice for them, but not nice for you (if you're not one of them), because companies  tank when they lose a lot of talent. After all, it's the talented employees (and, emphatically, not the blowhards in top management) that have been keeping the company afloat, right?

2. Further layoffs are inevitable.

Since the top talent will soon disappear, the company will inevitably be in a weaker position after the layoffs. And since top management clearly thinks layoffs are a panacea rather than a sign of desperation, the layoffs will keep coming.

Layoffs are (or should be) like surgery. You want to cut everything that needs cutting as quickly as possible and get the patient into recovery. Starting with voluntary layoffs, however, is a sure sign that a company's unwitting strategy is "death by a thousand cuts."

3. The next package will be less generous.

This will be the only time that you'll be able to get three weeks' salary per year of service. The next layoff it will be two, maybe one week's salary per year of service. Then it will be, "Pack your things, you're out."

Don't fool yourself into thinking that voluntary layoffs mean that top management cares about employees. Voluntary layoffs are a sign of indecisiveness, not altruism. As it becomes clear (as it will) that the company is failing, you'll find out exactly how much they care about you.

4. You are next on the list.

Now, you may think that you're so valuable to the company that it would never lay you off. You may even think that you'll be even MORE valuable to the company once your internal competition has left for greener pastures. But it doesn't work that way.

The mere fact that top management has outsourced the decision making on who goes and who stays to their employees shows that Verizon's top management has no idea who's valuable and who's deadwood.

5. Verizon's larger corporate strategy sucks.

The four points above are true of every company that institutes voluntary layoffs. In Verizon's case, though, the layoffs are part of an overall strategy that's equally stupid. Which makes sense, since companies that try voluntary layoffs, by definition, are being led by idiots.

To confirm this, all one needs to do is look at how CEO Hans Vestberg framed the decision to Verizon employees as:

" ... an opportunity to find more efficiencies in the size and scope of our V Team and help expedite the building of an innovative operating model for our future."

That's pure, unadulterated biz-blab. And that's always a sign of fuzzy thinking and management faddery--especially when top management can't turn off the blah-de-blah-de-blah when writing a memo that essentially says: "Most of your work friends will probably be leaving and we're going to jerk around everyone who remains."

Insensitive, much?

More important, as part of the announcement, Verizon told many of its IT employees that their jobs are being transferred to India-based programmer job shop Infosys, where they'll be competing internally with engineers whose salaries are a fraction of their own.

While hiring Infosys to put the squeeze on engineering salaries will no doubt reduce Verizon's costs, it also means the death of technical continuity for Verizon's incredibly complex infrastructure--a big deal as the company tried to upgrade to 5G.

This isn't going to end well. Trust me, because I've been there, done that, and have two (count 'em, 2) T-shirts to prove it. BTW, I reached out to Verizon, but the company hasn't gotten back to me. Kinda like every time I call for support.

So let me make this perfectly clear: If you're working for Verizon, and you're offered this pretty-damn-sweet voluntary layoff package--take the money and run. Do it today. Quit early and avoid the rush.

Oh, and if you've ever thought of starting your own business ... there's no time like the present, especially if you've got a few months of severance pay in the bank.

Sincerely,

Geoffrey James

Published on: Oct 4, 2018