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How much notice to give on retirement -- at any company

Information and advice from HP, HPI, and HPE alumni.

[A member asked us to pose this question on the HPAA Transition Forum. Here are the anonymized replies.]


"My current employer isn't HP. One of my peers recently told our manager and the team that he will probably retire in the next several years.

This has me wondering how far ahead I should let my manager know about retirement plans. I have no definite plans about retirement but it seems likely that some time in the next 2 to 8 years I'll decide I've worked enough and retire.

We are both at the top of the technical ladder with fairly unique skill sets. My colleague announced his plans to make time to identify and groom a successor.

That seems like a nice thing to do, but we get grants of restricted stock units that vest over 4 years. The grants that vest each year have a value that is about half my annual salary.

Financially, by every calculation I've done, I could retire now but I don't feel ready. There are some things I'd like to finish first, and I'd like more margin.

My employer values skill and innovation. It is unlikely that making my plans known would mark me for layoff.


I trust my manager. However, isn't even the best and fairest of managers likely to give a 'short timer' less of a grant so they can give more to someone else?"

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"I would be very careful telling your manager about your retirement plans. In November of 2013 I told my manager I planned to retire in two years.  Quite a coincidence that I was one of two people selected for WFR the following May."


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"Saying that one will probably retire in the next several years in not at all necessary in my opinion.  I can't imagine that any more than six months is in the employee's best interest regardless of how tough it would be to fill the vacancy.  HP's EERs were always less than six months from the time they were announced to the date at which you would need to be able to leave.  The 2012 EER did allow them to keep you an extra year, but there was a significant bonus for signing up to that potential extra year.

That said, I retired the first time with the 2005 EER but then came back to work at HP in the summer of 2007.   I was asked by a good friend on the interview team how long I would stay.  I said that I would commit to two years.  They still hired me, and I didn't retire again until the 2012 EER (leaving at the end of Feb. 2013 after being extended.  At no time did I ever feel that my status as a 'short timer' reduced my earnings or negatively impacted my position.  So clearly, I had good managers who in my opinion treated me very fairly.

I suppose that it is possible that if you let them know that you don't plan to retire before the stock grants fully vest, they might get the hint that if you don't get more grants, that you might be inclined to retire once the options do fully vest."

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"We all like to think that we are indispensable. HP, for example, has gotten rid of 120,000 people since 2002, but the company is still in business. With the changes in technology and the high-tech industry, your job may go away and you may not need to be replaced.

The chance that your managers will still be in the same roles, or even still at the same company, after a couple of years is slim. A friend was persuaded by her first- and second-level managers to stay instead of retire at a good time; a few months later they were both gone, her job was moved halfway across the country - but she couldn't uproot her family - and she was laid off at a very unfortunate time. Note that lower-level managers are not authorized to make any personnel commitments for the company.

Pre-announcing retirement will cost you financially. No matter how supportive your current manager is, other managers affect your finances. Your ranking will suddenly drop with no reason; monetary incentives will shrink; special privileges will slip away, etc. Especially after the inevitable reorganizations between now and your retirement date. Carefully research the time lines related to your compensation, performance reviews, incentives, etc. A couple of weeks' difference could cost you dearly.

Personal dynamics at work will change. Some co-workers will act like you have a contagious disease and not want to be seen associating with you for fear that they will be flagged as a pending retiree and therefore a good WFR candidate. Your announcement will trigger a lot of maneuvering and politicking among co-workers, either because they thought you should have gone a long time ago, or because they thought that you were going sooner, or because they want to take over your job now, or because a friend got WFRed instead of you, or whatever. The job may become less satisfying, or even toxic. This is very unlikely to bring out the best in your workgroup and department.

Ironically, if you are a known lame duck, your ability to influence policy and strategy for the good of the company will plummet for your remaining time."

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"Yes, stock and bonus were very scarce in HP.  As a manager we would 'stack and rank' employees based on the value to the projects that were priority.  One of my friends was the only person to work on a critical area.  But we all knew he was more interested in continued employment and family flexibility.

Managers are well aware of who they can take advantage of because of circumstance. My belief is that those who can only be retained by money will get it. Those closer to retirement are often driven by other concerns that the manager will reward instead."

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"I'd not say anything until you are sure you will retire on a given date and then give 6 weeks heads up. If your manager knows you are retiring in 6 weeks he can opt to lay you off and you can collect severance and unemployment (as long as you do not collect the retirement check at the same time)."

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"When I retired, I gave notice of my retirement in about 6 months.  I did this to give management sufficient time to plan for my replacement .

I think the timing considerations relate to:

1) How long is will take to train or replacement someone to do your role

2) Based on the notice provided, how will it impact:
 a) career, training, or travel assignments
 b) bonus or other awards

3) How much time you personally need to prepare for leaving the job:
 a) getting healthcare plans in order
 b) planning transitions on projects
 c) any changes needed to 401K, stock plans, etc."

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"If you have been there shorter than 10 years then 6 months is plenty. If you have been there longer than 10 years then 1 year is plenty but be aware that if there is a layoff you may be first unless you have an agreement in writing which says you will retire on Septober 33 of 3315 and they will not lay you off early.

Make it a memorable date like 05/05/05 -- which is the day I quit smoking. This allows you time to train someone and make plans for your retirement party."

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RE:  "I trust my manager. However, isn't even the best and fairest of managers likely to give a 'short timer' less of a grant so they can give more to someone else?"

"In a word Yes. When I EER'd in 2012, there was an option for managers to allocate an EOY bonus (should there be one in December, 2012) prorated to retirees from 2012, based on time worked during 2012.  My (previously fair, generous  and supportive) manager never acknowledged that this was a possibility. I saw no purpose to push this just the way it is."

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"One other consideration regarding when to let your manager know about your retirement plans is the timing during the Fiscal Year.  Salary increases (rare) , stock and stock option distribution (dependent on job type and level) and Variable Performance Bonuses (common) are decided upon by your manager usually in November, just a couple of days before the Thanksgiving Holiday.  Most managers have to work on this during the Thanksgiving break every year.

If you notify your manager of your retirement prior to or even just after this date, you can generally expect a smaller or non-existent distribution, since the manager generally has a very limited amount of $ and stock to distribute, and would prefer to use this on people who will remain as part of the work group.  Your likelihood  of receiving something would be very low with most managers simply because they don't have much to distribute these days and they want to use it to help recognize and retain the workforce that will remain.

I understand this is a generalization and is highly dependent on the manager.  However, as a manager myself I have seen this happen too many times to count.

My suggestion would be to wait until after salary increases, bonuses, stock are distributed... then make your plans known."

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"I too would be very careful how you manage the communication with your manager on your intent to retire.  Let's just say it could very easily have an impact on your rating and job stability."

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"As others have mentioned, no one is indispensable in the 'remains of HP' [or at any company.] I took EER in 2012 and there was NO effort to train a replacement for me. In fact, they couldn't even hire a replacement until after I left. My replacement had to be either someone in India or China, a college hire, or someone two pay levels below mine. HP was not interested in preparing in advance for my departure. Yes, I had a unique job with unique skills that took about 3-4 years to become 'up to speed.'

I had a very good manager and my job wasn't in jeopardy. It was just my time to retire... and I have zero regrets in doing so (as I type this looking out the window at the ocean...  :-)  ...quality and experience are becoming something that is displaced with 'headcount' and cost savings. You get the behavior you measure and that is what is being measured at the top."

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"As a manager (software development) I might have liked getting 6 months or more notice of someone leaving. But we usually got 2-4 weeks notice and we always managed with that. Even when the person leaving was a high level star contributor.

More important than the length of the notice is how well the person did their handoff. Finishing up projects when possible or else providing good notes/documentation to the next owner. Also, once having given a long advance notice would you be able to continue performing at a high level or would you develop some degree of a 'short timer' mind set?

Perhaps rewards management has changed since I retired, but I would expect to get no, or least smaller, pay increase, bonus, etc., after having given notice."

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"I would recommend never giving a planned date or even a hint that you are planning to retire.

When there is a WFR, managers are asked for input on all potential candidates for WFR.  This can include 'off-the-record' comments about future plans.  Older employees are already at risk and should never give an indication that they are anything but 'all in'.  Do not give a huge advance notice (more than a month or two) unless you are ready to go anytime and could benefit from a WFR package that might be happening!"

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"6 weeks to two months is sufficient notice. You want to give them enough notice so that they can put the process in place.  For some managers you might be the first person that they have gone through the process with, so starting it 2 months ahead is a good idea.  Also its near enough that you likely won't change your mind.  This is not something you want to dither about.

Any longer might be useful to the company but does you no good.  I know you want to be a good citizen so you might want to alert your manager that a training session would make no sense since you will be retiring, but be careful how far out you do this.  Also, since many of us don't really retire but go on to work elsewhere, the education might be useful.

Also take whatever benefits you can while you are eligible.  Remember in retirement medical coverage may be reduced and dental doesn't exist. You might even want to increase your Flexible spending account since HP will cover the full amount even though you might not add your full contribution since you will not finish the year (this was true when I retired in 2009, but may not be the way it is handled now).  So fix your teeth NOW and use the flexible spending to pay for it!"

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"Even for those leaving HP who will retire, I strongly urge you to utilize the services of Lee-Hecht-Harrison. They had some really interesting self-reflection sessions about considering what to do in retirement (write a book, get a part time job, etc.)  It's well worth the time."

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