Offer a Continuous Buyout?



Key Point: People should want to work for a company, and not feel obligated to stay (and vice versa). As reported by the Financial Post, “Shaw Communications Inc. will eliminate 25 percent of its workforce after about 3,300 employees accepted buyouts, five times more departures than originally anticipated as the company charts its path into a digital future. The Calgary-based communications giant announced… the results of its voluntary buyout program, stating it expects to take a $450 million charge in the second quarter of fiscal 2018 in relation to the massive restructuring. That includes severance and other employee costs, as well as expenses for the initiative it’s calling a ‘total business transformation.’ Shaw offered packages to 6,500 employees in late January. At the time, it said it expected only 650 employees to accept the offer.”

Wow! What does it say about an organization when you give them an incentive to leave and 25 percent want out? Perhaps an even more important question is; how can you miss estimating how many people actually want to leave by 5x? In fact, 25 percent moving on might be a great number if you hope to reinvent your company, and need a major injection of new talent. If I was on that board, I’d be asking some very tough questions. I’d be most concerned with leadership not being more in touch, than the fact that 1/4 of the entire workforce chose the long term uncertainty of unemployment rather than to stay with the company. And saying the offer was too rich is an oversimplification. No one is getting rich on this, or most other corporate buyouts.

It’s easy to take pot shots at Shaw from a distance, and I certainly don’t have the entire picture. Running a cable/communications company in this disruptive environment has to be very challenging. However, I think there is lots to learn from this for all companies. I believe every company should have a standing buyout offer similar to Shaw’s. If people would rather leave – please go. Quitting ON the job, or having the wrong skill/attitude combination, has to be the biggest cost for any company. Surely, having a defined self-selected path out would make it easier for all. The flipside is that companies should also be able to ask a person to involuntarily take a buyout if, for whatever reason, they don’t see that individual as part of the future. In this case, it would be clear that EVERYONE was all-in. At the same time, leadership would be more committed to having a very attractive purpose/vision, great culture and team members would be more self-accountable for bringing their very best every day.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. If you were presented with the Shaw offer (reported to be six months of pay plus one month for every year spent at the company), would you take it? What does your answer tell you? How many of your colleagues would take it? How confident are you with the estimate?
  2. Let’s all work at changing the stupidity of “golden handcuffs,” and the phony time wasted with outdated, Dilbert inspired performance management. You and I are both giving and receiving value, or we’re out. Contrary to many of my recommendations, it actually is that simple and not that hard. And it’s likely over a long career you and I will experience both options. Yay!

Loving buyouts in Personal Leadership,


One Millennial View: I don’t think many people wish to be in the shoes of a leader at a cable company in this Netflix, YouTubeTV, and HBONow era. It must be tough. And, I think us Millennials understand the temptation of ditching a gig for a buyout. Instant gratification? For better or worse, that’s kind of our language. That said, most of us would rather swipe right on a company and not completely want to bail after one date. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis