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Layoffs - Why, How, Returning, Advice, Moving On. 

Advice and reference info from members of the independent HP Alumni Association.  (Updated Apr 1, 2021.)

This is based on company policies, statements to investors, extensive online discussions, and private communications with members.

Contents:

1. Why this is happening.

2. How to evaluate your career situation -- advice from alumni.

3. Returning to HPInc or HPE

4. Advice from alumni to those considering returning. 

5. Moving on -- comments from members who have left. 


1. Why this is happening.

The IT industry is changing. Two macro trends: Traditional IT products and services have become commodities -- resulting in brutal price competition and offshoring. Standardized, automated cloud-based IT is displacing labor-intensive, customized data-center-based IT -- reducing employment across the industry. Links 

Investor pressure for short-term results. The successor companies are under the same cost-cutting pressure as the old companies. Investors are being promised that layoffs will continue. Examples: Morgan Stanley stock analyst pinning down HPE CFO on layoff savings (Link). Goldman Sachs analyst pressing DXC CEO on offshoring percentage (Link).

Moving to short-term employment.
1966: "...job security based on performance..." Hewlett-Packard Corporate Objectives
Today: "...the jump in the number of unincorporated talent now in the services workforce. To take advantage of this trend, we created the DXC Dynamic Talent Cloud, a smart crowdsourcing platform that enables us to bring new people and skills to DXC as we need them." DXC Q1 2018 Earnings Call
"Job security is having the skills to be persistently employable, rather than keeping a long-term position." HPInc Workplace 2020  

Company needs are changing. New technologies and business models require different employee skills. Companies need to make room so that the next generation of employees can advance. Jobs are being moved to lower-cost countries. Increased use of contract employees. Many functions are simply no longer needed.

"...how do you keep up with this next generation of IT and how do you bring people into this company for whom it isn't something they have to learn, it is what they know." "...we need to return to a labor pyramid that really looks like a triangle where you have a lot of early career people who bring a lot of knowledge who you're training to move up through your organization, and then people fall out either from a performance perspective or whatever..." (Link

DXC: "We are bringing more and more people in at lower levels of the organization." New center in New Orleans will work with local colleges "developing a next-generation IT workforce." (Link)

HPE: "110,000 people left this organization, and it was in some way is like the tide going out. You could see where there were real opportunities to improve... Decreasing the layers in our customer-facing organization... Reducing the number of markets that we operate in... shift roles from high cost countries to low cost countries. (Link


2. How to evaluate your career situation.

Use the HPAA's Career Checkup -- hard-earned advice from members on evaluating your career situation -- wherever you work.


3. Returning to HPInc or HPE.

Chances are slim for former employees who want to return to any of the successor companies (HPInc, HPE, DXC, or Micro Focus) -- especially in the U.S. and other high-labor-cost countries. The changes to the workforce vary by country, based on local legal requirements.

Comments from Nov 2020 discussion on the HPAA's "HP Connections" group on LinkedIn.

"HR has marked me as not eligible for rehire. The manager trying to hire me found out that there was no cause other than the monetary settlement."

"I’ve only seen a couple of exceptions ever granted by the Executive Committee as it creates potential legal problems to enforce the agreement selectively. I am not a lawyer."

"I left of my own account with no pay out. I was re-hired."

"Helps me to better understand what happened with an application I had."

  

HPInc U.S. formal policy: "It is important for HP to protect the investments made in workforce reductions and to keep its commitment to current employees to invest in their careers by creating opportunities for growth and promotion. As a result, under current HP Policy, former employees who left the company, in May 2012 or later, through a workforce reduction program are ineligible for rehire or to be engaged as an agency contractor." HP SPD 2014   HPInc SPD 2016  "Employees who retire under the [PRP] Program will be subject to HP's policies regarding rehire, which are subject to change at HP's discretion. These policies currently provide that you will not be eligible to be rehired or work as a contractor for HP at any time in the future." PRP SPD 2014 (Links)

HPE U.S. formal policy: "After this 60-day period, you are ineligible for rehire... Additionally, former employees who left under a severance agreement or enhanced early retirement, workforce reduction or similar circumstances (e.g., MSA or ETA) are not eligible to return to HPE as an agency contractor." HPE WFR FAQ 2016 

Returning via an agency or contractor no longer works -- they are now required to submit SSNs.

Waiver and General Release:

The current formal and informal rehire policies do not contradict any previous version of the Waiver and General Release that you signed in order to be paid severance or a retirement incentive. Read your actual agreement. You agreed not to apply for employment for a certain time period -- and you acknowledged that you are not entitled to future employment. The company didn't commit to anything. Sample Waiver agreements and related issues: Waivers, SPDs, Rehire Restrictions

If you just skim your agreement, the tendency is to focus on the number of months or years mentioned -- and not the precise legal wording.

Informal policy:

"...how do you keep up with this next generation of IT and how do you bring people into this company for whom it isn't something they have to learn, it is what they know. ...we put in place an informal rule... when you are replacing someone, really think about the new style of IT skills."

"...we need to return to a labor pyramid that really looks like a triangle where you have a lot of early career people who bring a lot of knowledge who you're training to move up through your organization, and then people fall out either from a performance perspective or whatever..."

--former HP and HPE CEO Meg Whitman to stock analysts in 2013.

"...eventually you will wear out. Not many people can last for twenty or thirty years, which is why we need to attract young people."

--Antonio Neri, now CEO of HPE, quoted in the 2016 book "Becoming Hewlett-Packard"

"Employees were selected for the reduction in force because the job they were performing will no longer continue, their skill set was not applicable to the Company’s or organization’s operations going forward, and/or other employees were viewed as better qualified because of past performance and competency evaluation, which may include skills, abilities, knowledge and experience."

--from the legally-required Attachment A provided to those 40 or over

Legal challenge:

In 2016, eight former employees -- from CA, DC, IL, TX, WA, and VA; some of whom did not sign the Waiver and General Release Agreement required to receive severance -- filed a class action suit accusing HPInc and HPE of age discrimination in layoffs. Status as of Sep 5, 2020: The number of plaintiffs rose to 193. However, those who signed Release Agreements were required by the court to submit to arbitration, as provided in the agreements. Legal maneuvers continue. Details: https://www.hpalumni.org/EmploymentLawsuits  (Employment suits generally move slowly. The class action filed in 2006 concerning EDS/HP overtime was settled after nine years, 79 depositions, and 1.5 million pages of documents -- paying an average of $950 each to 2,700 people in 2015.) 


4. Advice from alumni to those considering returning. 

Based on extensive online discussions and private communications with HPAA members:

- Returning may have long-term career consequences. It can postpone learning new skills or technology, starting over at another company, or changing careers. "You don't want to appear to be only employable by HP." "I could've spent that time working my way up in a new company."

- If you are approached about -- or apply for -- a direct or agency-contract position at an HP-related company, be very clear about your employment history. A recruiter or manager may not know about any formal or informal rehire restrictions -- or may be overly-confident about getting approval. Many report losing critical time and wasting valuable energy on discussions that ended abruptly without explanation. If you did not leave under a restructuring program, make that very clear."

- Working through an agency is very different from direct employment. For legal reasons, you are treated differently -- for example, not included in staff meetings or celebrations. People's attitude toward you is different. Easy to get into a situation where, due to what the agency is charging for your services, you are expected to work at a much higher level than you are being paid for. When comparing alternatives, be sure to factor in the reduced benefits.

- It is a different company now. The managers who supported you may no longer have political power or may have left. The current work environment can tend to reduce teamwork and freedom. And you can always be laid off again in the next cycle. "Do I value myself and my family so little that I'd be willing to put our fortunes back in that position a second time?"


5. Moving on.

Comments from alumni who have left:

- "Learn new technologies and remember HP as kind of like college -- it was fun while it lasted."

- "Making less but I now get to spend more of my time doing the part of the work that I love."

- "I wish I had recognized much earlier the futility of my job and what it was doing to me. On the way home after an exhausting day, I bought groceries. I realized that the guy bagging groceries at the store had done more for civilization that day than I had."

- "Found out I was grossly underpaid."

- "Having HP on my résumé helps to open doors with other firms."

- "Now I work for a 200-employee company and can get decisions made same-day."

- "In retrospect being WFR'd was a blessing. It forced me to get out, rethink who I am and what is important. I certainly would not have started my own business without the shove."

- "I wish I would have known that I had greater skills at adapting to my life after HP, resilience in dealing with the transition, and competencies that were valued by others."

- You may find "the companionship you thought you'd miss, the dreams you thought you'd dropped, and the enthusiasm you thought you left back in your youth."


Comments to info@hpalumni.org will be kept in confidence.

See also:

- Know someone leaving HPInc or HPE? Send them this link to our "ASAP Checklist" -- advice from alumni on urgent things to do before losing access to internal systems and in the following weeks. https://www.hpalumni.org/asap  (HPAA membership not required.)

- Links, advice, and reference info from HPAA members about job searching and career issues.

- "Job Searching for the Mature Worker" -- HPAA video with pragmatic, actionable advice. (Not the usual motivational fluff.)


For more mutual help on this topic and many others, join the independent HP Alumni Association. If you were formerly a regular, direct employee of HP, HPInc, or HPE -- or are in the process of leaving -- join the HP Alumni Association. No charge, thanks to HPAA members.


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