Cisco Systems this week announced their current early retirement plan for 2011. Without going into all the nitty gritty, for that is all over the web now, essentially one gets a year’s pay with bonus, 2 years to exercise underwater stocks, 2 years of health benefits etc., etc. The plan is strictly voluntary. When they offered a similar plan 2 years ago, a layoff soon followed, so 99% of the employees do expect another layoff soon this time too. Question is, do you do you let it ride for one more throw of the dice hoping there isn’t truely another layoff coming, or leave the table now? Even the latter choice is not much of one if you need to work still, ie you don’t have good reasons for taking it, like pursuing a business interest full time, moving to a less expensive area to retire a few years early etc. But what do you do if you are 50, the minimum age and aren’t independently wealthy?
I suppose one could say work in a hobby shop, a mom and pop something, where knowledge is useful and appreciated, but aren’t necessarily able to pay top dollar. If you are lucky, maybe they have a decent health insurance plan that isn’t too expensive. Cisco does give one insurance, but only for 2 years. If you’ve worked there 10 years, Cisco’s long term retirement insurance plan is an option, but that costs close to $700 a month for a single person. It’s almost double for a couple. Additionally, payment for this plan is due on the first of each month, if you miss that for whatever reason, you lose the coverage. This is irrevecable. Not very friendly.
It wouldn’t be so bad if one had more time. One has 9 weeks to decide, though I think many have wasted the first in panic, disbelief, and discussion. Come June 24th you have to file and then leave on July 8th. It’s not like you can wait until you have another job, you gotta go when they say you got to. It’s very cold in the current job climate. One is able to use 6 months of placement services, but how good are they. Hell, why not make them available until a job is found? Are they that bad? At least make it longer.
If one stays, you might get 6 months severance and possibly nothing else. So what to do but roll the dice?
I think if one has been at Cisco for a while, one recognizes that it has become too top heavy and the divide between the top and workers very wide. Things changed for the better actually have made things worse, numerous attempts at the consumer market all for naught. I think the market does have the stock price correct, as a certain John alluded to. I think the wise thing to do is sell off your stock and head for high water. Job wise, a lot of good and experienced people will leave. It’s 100% in some groups.
If one can make the deadline that’s more cash in their pocket, if not at least one will have started the path to a new job and company. (Sorry I consider this a draft, what I’m trying to convey is that the deadline is like a sale price at a store with a time limit). If one can get it fine, but it’s important not to grab for everything you see. The smart move is to take the opportunity that is right, and this probably has pushed many to start the search for a new home. At the very least, Cisco, why do you not know who you need to keep?