In today’s oh-so uncertain times, many people are concerned about job security . . . and with good reason. It’s important that employees – and those who counsel them in career matters – understand that job security comes in different “packages,” and that job security can be negotiated in new-job negotiations, while on the job, and in severance negotiations, as well.
What is “job security?” For discussion purposes, perhaps it can be defined as “not losing your job, and what your job offers you, by surprise.” By that practical definition, we often ask for, and obtain, job security in these six basic ways:
1. Agreed-Upon Term: The most basic form of job security is having an agreed-upon end date for your employment, commonly known as a “term” of employment. Agreed “terms” are not that popular with employers, because they represent commitment to overhead, but are nearly always given to those employees who employers value most – senior executives. But remember the old adage, “You don’t get unless you ask.”
2. Minimum Payout: Many employers will not provide a guaranteed minimum employment “term,” but will provide “guaranteed payout.” For example, on Wall Street it is common to see a new employee told, in effect, “You have no agreed end-date, and therefore no guaranteed employment term, but in all events we will pay you all you would have earned had you been with us a year (or two.)”
3. Minimum Notice: “You won’t lose your job without receiving at least six months (or three months) prior notice, unless you engage in serious misconduct.” This type of valuable job security is also given out, but more commonly on request than without request.
4. Pre-Agreed Severance: Though pre-agreed severance does not keep you in your job longer than your employer wants you there, it does at least give you security regarding some of the most important aspects of being an employee: continued income, continued benefits, and continued perquisites (“perks”), such as leased car, tuition assistance, and the like.
5. Continued Payout of Earned Monies: For those compensated in good part by commissions (or their first cousins, formulaic bonuses) we ask for “payment of commissions (or quarterly bonuses) earned during employment, for a minimum of one (or two) years, whether or not employment then-exists.” A related request relevant to job security is “pro rata yearly bonus.”
6. Continued Perception of Employment: To some, “perception is reality.” Employers will sometimes agree to give an employee the right to (a) keep their title, (b) use their office, (c) maintain email and phone answering, and the like, in order to maintain their appearance of being employed. This prevents the substantial diminution of “perception of value” in the employment marketplace that comes from coming to an interview “hat in hand,” and also precludes the interview question, “Why were you fired?”
The varieties of valuable “job security” an employee can negotiate are limited only by the bounds of creative thinking. These six types are the most common types our clients ask for, and commonly receive, in their workplace negotiations.