Reduction in Force or RIF is something that a company implements when it can no longer sustain a workforce. They might be going through a slump and are not able to retain the number of employees they started with. As a result, they have to let go of employees, which often causes financial and emotional distress for them.
RIF is similar to mass layoffs in many respects. The predominant point of concern here is that those who are asked to leave with RIF can be sure that the company will never recall them.
The organization may be downsizing, shutting down an office, or restructuring the company entirely. In such cases, many positions often become redundant. The employers have either no need for the employees for that position or do not have any related position to which they can be transferred. Hence, the company has to let them go for good.
However, if you have been laid off due to RIF, then there are certain things about it that might still benefit you. Although being asked to leave is never a good thing, certain things might work in your favor. To understand them, you need to know the difference between RIF and the other kind of layoffs.
Difference Between RIF and Other Kinds of Layoffs
Here is what you need to know to understand about reduction in force meaning and how it differs from others.
Reduction in Force or RIF is often used interchangeably with other terms like layoffs or furlough. In the case of the latter two scenarios, there is a chance that the employer is only letting you go for a temporary period.
In case of a layoff, you lose your job, so you don’t get paid. And, you might or might not be recalled by a company. In case of a furlough, you don’t get paid for the period you are not working, but you technically retain your job. In both cases, there are chances in varying degrees that you might not be recalled at all.
In the case of RIF, however, you can be sure that you have been terminated, and the company will not ever recall you. Your position might have been done away with, and your employers will tell you to seek employment elsewhere. Hence, your tenure with the organization is over, and you are expected to move on.
Bonus Read: 5 Steps to Help you Bounce Back from a Layoff
Can Reduction In Force Be Beneficial?
RIF can be beneficial for both the employer and the employees if you look at the larger context of things. Here is how it can help.
1. Less Ambiguity
One of the most significant benefits of RIF is that although being asked to leave often results in distress, you can be sure that your term with the organization is over. You can actively start looking for employment elsewhere.
Compared to other kinds of layoffs, the note of finality in RIF makes it easier for the employees to plan their next course of action.
Otherwise, employees often waste months speculating whether their erstwhile employers will call them back, and they are left undecided about whether they should move on.
They end up wasting their precious months. And calling their employers seeking clarity about whether they will be asked to resume or not ends in the response that they will not be called again.
This creates even more distress and also results in gaps in the resume. With RIF, you know that you must look for employment elsewhere. It can be daunting, but you can make a fresh start.
2. Availing Benefits
Depending on your industry and the organization’s scope, you can avail of certain benefits if you have been asked to leave due to RIF. Your employer cannot simply lay you off without prior notice, especially when there is a binding contract. Employers need to make sure that they are not laying off employees in such a way that it can invite a legal lawsuit.
Moreover, organizations that have labor unions to comply with have to be even more particular when it comes to laying off people. They have to follow the rules meticulously if they are to lay off people. In such cases, if the employer gives you notice regarding RIF, then there are chances you can avail of all the benefits, including unemployment benefits.
If your employer gives you due notice, you will also have ample time to look for a new job, and chances are that you will find one before your income stops. Hence, all is not bleak when it comes to RIF, and with your clarified status, you can approach the next job accordingly.
3. Planning Your Next Course of Action
Since RIF is full and final, you are free to chart your next course of action. You can do as you like in the days immediately following the RIF. You can travel, learn a new skill, plan your own schedules, network and meet new people and do so many things you had always wanted to do but had put on the back-burner. You might find yourself without a job if you have not secured one already, but it does not define you alone.
Since being laid off through RIF gives you access to many benefits, you will not really find yourself at the deep end of the pool. You can have a good look at your finances and decide how you want to proceed from here.
You might even consider changing industries while looking for a new job, especially if you feel that the job opportunities in your industry are reducing- the effects of which were only reflected through RIF. You might gain a whole new perspective, which can lead to some pretty remarkable life-altering situations.
How to Ensure That RIF Does Not Lead You to Despair?
Being laid off is not easy, and benefits apart, there might come a point when you might end up missing your work terribly. You could simply miss the job that you loved doing, the people you worked with, or the kind of perks or benefits it had once offered.
Being laid off through RIF can be particularly difficult for senior employees who might have spent years building the company, and its growth has become synonymous with their personal growth as well.
Hence, being told to leave one day with no hope of ever returning can be emotionally distressing. The employees might feel they were not seen or heard, which could lead to bitterness towards their employers. The key to not despairing at this stage is to look at the bright side of things.
One of the things that you become aware of when you know the reduction in force meaning is that the procedure of laying off employees through RIF is relatively impersonal. There are no subjective agendas at work.
If the company is being restructured, the employees asked to leave are told to do so strictly because they have no further role in fulfilling the organization. It is highly unlikely that the employees are asked to leave because of some personal agenda.
If the employees can keep an open mind at this stage and think clearly, they will find new opportunities. They will be able to turn the situation around.
What Can You Do if You Are Suddenly Laid Off?
If you are suddenly laid off, you can ensure that your employer has followed all the rules leading up to the RIF. Your status as an employee would also play a part. Were you a permanent employee or just a temporary one?
How many years have you been a part of the company? If you worked part-time, how many hours did you put in every week?
The answers to these questions will play a role in determining the various ways you can avail yourself of the benefits of being laid off due to a reduction in force. You can also avail of COBRA benefits that include health plans, prescription drug plans, or dental plans.
In some cases, you might have to pay for the expenses yourself, but you might still be entitled to the benefits. Hence, go through the company policy thoroughly in case you have been laid off due to RIF.
While being laid off due to a reduction in force might seem wholly unfair to the employees, sometimes this is the last resort many companies have. If they do not cut their workforce short, they might be unable to continue operating.
They might eventually have to file for bankruptcy. That can spell doom for the company and the remaining employees. Hence, the organization must make tough calls and let some employees go, looking at the larger picture.
Moreover, through RIF, they also ensure that the employees get as many benefits as they are entitled to make the process easier. Knowing about reduction in force meaning and what it entails can make things easier for you. It is crucial to keep an open mind, not despair at this juncture, and search for a new job with renewed vigor.