McKinsey is Paying Some Managers up to 9 Months Salary to Leave

(Fortune) - Companies are getting creative when it comes to cutting costs.

To avoid harsh online criticism that comes with mass layoffs, organizations have done things like rescind job offers and put large swaths of employees on performance improvement plans in order to cut down on staff.

Now consulting firm McKinsey & Co. is offering its own unique way to trim its workforce: giving senior U.K. managers the option of staying at the company for up to nine months while they look for a new job, the Sunday Times first reported. Those employees won’t continue any of their work duties during that time, potentially collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars if they stay the full nine months. Some U.S. managers were also offered a version of this choice, although the exact amount of time they can remain at the company is unclear. In both cases, the staffers who decide to leave are being offered career counseling and résumé assistance. McKinsey previously told Fortune that the move was part of the company’s effort to “ensure our performance management and development approach is as effective as possible, and to do so in a caring and supportive way.”

Offers like McKinsey’s, or buyouts in general, may be tempting to many employees who plan to find another gig or take some time off. But it's hard to know when to take a payout, and when stick it out at your current company. Fortune spoke with experts who broke down what workers should consider if they're offered a similar option—and when it makes sense to take the money.

You're far along in your career

Workers who are mid-career or later may be better off taking a leap of faith and accepting a buyout from their company, in part because they likely have less room for growth where they are. This is especially true for employees in their 50s or 60s nearing retirement age, who could use the opportunity to take a small windfall as they wind down their careers.

“If you were thinking of retiring in the next three to five years, then this could be an opportunity knocking at your door,” Patrice Lindo, senior strategy manager at Accenture and CEO of Career Nomad, a consulting firm, told Fortune. “I'd say take it and start that second life, whatever it is, that you were going to do afterwards.”

You can easily get another job

Even if a company is shedding staffers, those workers may still be highly sought-after somewhere else. For people working in high-demand fields like finance and artificial intelligence, taking the payout can potentially be a great career move.

These people can decide to skip looking for a new job altogether, and instead become their own boss. Or their pre-existing connections can help launch them to an even bigger staff position than the one they had before, according to Andres Lares, managing partner at Shapiro Negotiations Institute, a sales and negotiations consulting firm.

Lares says client-facing workers at prominent organizations, like managers at McKinsey, “touch quite a few companies across all the different projects they're working on. And those are the first places they're gonna start when they're potentially looking for a job.”

You hate your current job

Workers who already dislike their roles should think about using a buyout as an opportunity to look for a job elsewhere.

Lindo says demanding jobs can often lead to burnout, making workers eager to leave. If someone is unhappy, unfulfilled, or stretched thin, a buyout can be a launching pad to a different job with a better work-life balance.

If you’re struggling to find “projects that are aligned with the type of work that you want to do, and that's causing you stress, I would say take the money and run,” says Lindo.

You’re being offered a robust package to walk away 

Not all buyouts are created equal. Some deals may be paltry, while others include eye-popping sums. If a company payout includes a large pay package and benefits, that makes a big difference in whether an employee should consider it.

Jean Ohman Black, an employment and labor law attorney, points out that severance pay is usually one to three months of salary, but benefits are another important part of the equation. Will an employee still get health insurance and paid sick leave? And if so, for how long? Staffers can and should bargain with the company for what they want, according to Lindo.

“I would encourage [workers] to ask about the things that were important to them. The acceleration of any stock that they had, health benefits,” she says. “I'd encourage them to really leverage that negotiation.”

But keep in mind that workers often have to think fast about what to do, or miss out on a golden opportunity.

“If you don't take it now it may not be available. Or it might not be available as lucrative a form as it is now,” Patrick Boyd, labor and employment attorney, told Fortune. “There's this risk that it will disappear as an offer or recede if they wait too long.”

By Emma Burleigh



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