As an executive, leader or manager what do you do when your company is downsizing and you have been informed that your organization will be consolidated to another division within six months to a year – do you stay or do you go?

Not every decision or situation is clear-cut.

Does your company want you to stay?

If your company wants you to stay through the transition, you will know it because they will offer you a stay bonus.

Stay bonuses are financial incentives given to key people and are tied to completing specific goals. Stay bonuses are in addition to the layoff or separation allowances that some companies offer to employees.

Examples of stay bonus goals are:

  • Maintaining morale
  • Hitting financial goals
  • Managing the transition work and people
  • Remaining in the position until a certain date or event

The full stay bonus is usually payable upon complete of all goals. There may be a sliding scale for how well you complete some of the goals however not remaining until the end is often a deal killer.

When a company approaches you about staying with your organization through a difficult time, be sure to weigh the consequences of not leaving on your own terms. There is rarely opportunity to look for employment during a transition.

Some of the risks you may want to weigh about taking the stay bonus are:

  1. How long will it take you to a job afterward?
  2. How is the job market for your position today? Will it get better?
  3. Exhaustion – you may need a break after transition work – can you afford it?
  4. Is the stay bonus lucrative enough?
  5. Will the separation benefits offer a reasonable bridge?
  6. Can you keep your morale and focus under tremendous stress?

One last consideration –don’t kid yourself into thinking you might find another position with the company after helping them through the transition. If that was the case, you would not be getting a stay bonus.

How to know your company really does not need you.

There are some clues or discussions that will occur if the company is prepared to deal with a sudden departure. Here are some examples:

  1. The company may give you advance confidential notice about the consolidation or downsizing. Your “heads up” is usually three to six months. Translation – go find a job.
  2. Without a stay bonus or other incentives in place, the company has determined it can do without your position. Plans are already in place to cover or move your job responsibilities as soon as you leave.
  3. Your boss has left. The position is not being replaced and a consolidation or transition expert is coming in to help out.
  4. Hiring for critical positions is frozen.

This is not the time for company loyalty.

You may be feeling an internal conflict about whether to stay and help your company or organization out or take a more active role in finding a job. The employees who work for you may not know that the company plans to consolidate or downsize. It is natural for you to want to protect them.

The question I think you have to ask is: who is looking out after you?

Let’s be clear. Self-talk about loyalty is for the company’s benefit and realistically, you will not be there in the short-term.

It is time to move on and start your job search process today.