The company I work for recently announced a sweeping retirement offer for any employee who is eligible (based on their age and years of service) to go within the next three years. As far as I can tell, this is pretty unprecedented in our organization. There is no limit to the number of people who can apply, as there has been in previous offers. The three year window is new as well. If you’re eligible, you can go. Simple as that.
Or is it?
There is plenty of speculation as to why the company would offer such a generous package to its unionized employees, which includes 12 months of salary. This blog is not the proper platform for a discussion of that nature, but one thing is obvious. Change is coming.
Eligible employees have received an email with instructions on how to accept the retirement package, and must make their decision by September 21. Once that button is selected, it can not be deselected. If you say that you are going, then you can indicate at what point in the next three years you will take The Package (as everyone is calling it). As you can imagine, there are plenty of people interested in taking advantage of this offer. Some have declared with much fanfare their intention of leaving. Others are keeping quiet about it. And still others are crunching the numbers, trying to decide if they can even afford to retire. It’s this last group that troubles me.
As soon as the company’s announcement was made public, it’s been the sole talk around the office. It’s impossible to bump into someone without being asked “Do you know if so-and-so is going to take the package?”. Because of the very nature of my position, I think I’ve talked with technicians all over Atlantic Canada, and probably know more about their retirement plans than I care to. I always tell them the same thing “I’ve only been here for 11 years… I’m not going anywhere anytime soon..”
11 years? Most guys I work with have been here anywhere from 25-42 years. I’m one of the 2 “babies” in this group. But as I look at each of them going over the numbers, talking on the phone to their wives, financial advisers, HR reps, I can’t help but think “I do not want that to be me.” There are guys who want very much to leave, but now feel that they can not afford their insurance or health benefits that will no longer be covered by the company. What is the point of retiring from one job, only to have to take another one to help make ends meet? It just does not make any sense.
So I watch them wrestle with this most important decision, knowing that Sept 21 is not very far away. I feel bad for the position they find themselves in, and I think back to my dreams of self-sufficiency. The 4 Hour Work Week. Tribes. Rich Dad, Poor Dad.
I hope that when the time comes, my decision is not influenced by numbers… but by a feeling. A sense that everything will be fine, regardless of which path I choose.
When it’s time to go… It’s time to go.