Wish I had known before layoff, retirement, or leaving: Part 1 - Surprises and Hazards.
We asked HPAA members "What do you wish you had known before you left?"
The responses are organized into five articles:
- Heads Up - Surprises and Hazards
- Job and Career Issues
- Benefits Issues
- Financial Issues
- Looking at the Big Picture
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Heads Up! These comments were posted from 2011 to 2023.
Some things have changed. Please send corrections and
Surprises and Hazards. Wish I Had Known #1
(Most recent additions Jan 28, 2023.)
Use the HPAA's "ASAP Checklist" -- which has advice from HPAA members on
what to do before losing access to internal systems and in the following few weeks.
Analyze -- and mark up -- all the paperwork. Due to the complexity of
all this and the many moving parts, there are traps -- as noted below and
elsewhere in the "WIHK" articles.
Leaving HP is at least a quarter-time job for at least three months.
(Folks who are starting to leave don't believe this -- but members consistently
report that this was the case for them.)
Every aspect of leaving HP is handled separately. And by a different
financial or outsourcing company. (If you change your postal address, you have
to notify each company individually.)
How to resolve U.S. HP or HPE health benefits issues -- and how
to escalate: Benefits Centers.
It is hard to decode each of the many mailings to determine what they
actually mean and what action to take. But each mailing does force you to review
some part of your finances -- perhaps an aspect that you haven't been paying
much attention to over the years.
Use your calendar -- and set up a binder for all the paperwork you will
Some of it is legal boilerplate -- but you must carefully examine all of
the paperwork to find the very important things that you need to take action on
before the sometimes-short deadlines.
If you won't be at your home address for more than two weeks, arrange to
have a trusted person go through your postal mail to catch notifications of
things that you must do by a certain deadline and secure any checks.
Despite having direct deposit for years, members report that you may
still get a very big check in regular mail -- not traceable, and in a window
envelope with the amount visible.
You need to ask a lot of questions to understand what is going on and to
be sure that things are set up the way you want them.
You need to watch the timing and tax issues with everything.
Before leaving, search the web for ‘what to do’ – what to do when
leaving a job, what to do when part of a layoff…
If I had taken another job in HP, within six months I would have been
eligible for the full retirement package. They did offer me the opportunity "to
apply" for a job, but it certainly did not seem to me that I would get it and I
did not feel like begging for a job from the company. If someone would have told
me the part about the six months, I would have tried for the job.
I found out by reading the fine print in the final package they sent me.
When we left during the last EER, HP offered a short time you could
access LHH for some classes – such as résumé writing and tips. This was to
help you decide, then your access was stopped until after you left HP. I
STRONGLY recommend you take the résumé class during the decision time. It
was an excellent class and allows you to start that part. Also, if there
are other classes that make sense, do them immediately. It will help with
Do take advantage of any transition classes. Members consistently report
that the Lee Hecht Harrison classes are excellent. A typical comment: "LHH was
crucial in coaching me in how to find a job in today's market."
With respect to incentives -- VPB, PfR, commissions, etc. -- your
management chain is not motivated to look out for your interests -- or they may
be leaving themselves and therefore have no political power to help you. Plus,
managers need to use their limited incentive budget to retain the employees they
want to keep. Once it is clear that you are leaving, you have already been
written out of the script.
Quota will not be seasonalized but applied linearly, so if you leave in
a soft business season you will lose compensation unless you fix different terms
in your termination contract. I.e. in Europe for H2, typically 50% or more of
the business happens in September/October. I left on August 31 and was measured
against 2/3 of the quota. Even if we achieve 100% for H2 as there is no
seaonalization I will only be paid 80%. When I asked for seasonalization I was
told that this was policy (which I reckon is correct) and could have been
adjusted in the termination contract but as I had already signed I had to live
I wish I had known this before I signed the contract so that I could
have added a quota seasonalization to the terms. Of course if you leave in a hot
business season this can play in your favor ;-). 
Read the actual legal agreements that you got with stock options or
other stock-related incentives -- in addition to the information in your
retirement/layoff documents. The actual details vary by when you got them
and what predecessor company issued them.
Some members got badly burned by not understanding the legal
limitations. (And trying to exercise options on the last day before they expire
is just asking for something to go wrong in processing your transaction!)
There is no recourse or do-over with this stuff.
I wish I had known that because I was over 55 my layoff was being
treated as a retirement, and that the original Tandem stock options I had were
not going to expire on the date of separation, which is what I had been told by
HP HR when I inquired about it. Instead, all my options became vested on the
date of separation/retirement and I was given 3 years to exercise them.
Unfortunately, because of the incorrect information I was given at the time, I
exercised them for about $1 per share net profit the day before I terminated,
around the 5 year low. If I had the correct information, I would have held on to
them, and made a LOT more, which is what I did with my other options which were
below water the day I terminated. 
I wish I had realized that my EDCP account was going to distribute to me
starting the next year, because of the "retirement" treatment, it would have
changed some decisions I made that increased my tax liability the next year.
This too was due to incorrect information I received from HR when I called them.
The time to get the [incentive or severance payment] once you signed the
paperwork to roll it to an IRA took almost 12 weeks. I had expected closer
to 6 weeks. The timing was dependent on when in the month you
submitted your paperwork as rollovers only occurred once a month and if you
missed the date, it pushed it out 4 weeks.
Wish I knew to use up vacation days... because they don't pay you back
for them. [Varies by state and there are other considerations. See item 4 on the
I wished I had known how complicated and time-consuming it would be to
choose the correct insurance plan, sign up for it, end my hp COBRA, etc., as
well as all the other "stuff" I had to do. Decisions regarding the pension
plan and severance plan and how to take it and/or move it, etc. It took me
about a month to wade through it all! I wished I realized how complicated
How many things that are trivial to do inside the HP firewall are much
harder or impossible to do outside of it. [To help with that, use the HPAA's
"ASAP Checklist" at
Wish I had known how much work it would be to move my personal business
off HP's systems.
[However you leave, any email autoreply that you set up will be probably
be immediately disabled. People who send you email either receive no reply -- or
get this forwarded by their ISP:
"550 5.1.1 ... Recipient address rejected: User unknown in virtual alias
Because the reply looks like spam or junk, it might not even reach your
https://www.hpalumni.org/PersBus for alumni advice.]
Next section: Job and Career Issues