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

Advice and reference info from members of the independent HP Alumni Association.  (Updated Mar 7, 2022)

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 HP 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. "We are competing with public cloud, white box and [Software-as-a-Service] providers, so we have to think differently about how we design, build and sell those products." --former HPE CEO Meg Whitman

Investor pressure for short-term results. The new companies are under the same cost-cutting pressure as the old companies. Investors are being promised that layoffs will continue. Shows up in questions asked in stock analyst calls: Morgan Stanley stock analyst pinned down HPE CFO on layoff savings. Goldman Sachs analyst pressed DXC CEO on offshoring percentage.

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 to analysts
"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..." --Whitman

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." --DXC to analysts

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." --Whitman


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 HP or HPE.

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."

 

Returning via an agency or as a contractor -- now required to submit SSN to check for former employment at the specific hiring company.

Waiver and General Release:

These 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: https://www.hpalumni.org/Waiver

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:

HP/HPE age discrimination allegations. If you were WFRed by HP or HPE at 40 years of age or older between Dec 9, 2014 and Feb 15, 2022 -- and did *not* sign the Waiver in order to receive severance or retirement benefits -- you may have been eligible to join a lawsuit originally filed in 2016. (If AL, AR, GA, IN, MS, NC, or SD, first date is Apr 8, 2015.) At the time, the official notice was at: forsythhplitigation.com  Posted on the HPAlumni-Finance group 11/16/21. More on this case: hpalumni.org/EmploymentLawsuits-Forsyth

(Employment suits move very 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.) 


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 HP 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.)


If formerly a regular, direct U.S. employee of HP or HPE -- or are in the process of leaving -- join the HP Alumni Association. No charge, thanks to HPAA's Supporting Members.


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