In this job environment, companies are tending to use severance agreements as a way to limit their exposure to lawsuits down the road, and part ways with employees on as amicable a basis as possible.

I’ve previously written some the legal issues that arise with layoffs and severance agreements.  But often times, the agreements are matter of negotiation.  As with any negotiations, getting to a resolution is based, at least in part, on the expectations that the other side has for a deal.

An interesting article online this week at BusinessWeek advises executives on "How to Part on the Best of Terms".  It’s an interested read, particularly for companies to understand what advice employees are receiving when they receive severance agreements to review.

The amount of money in severance, as the article notes, is usually calculated at one or two weeks of severance for each year of service, but more and more, employees and companies are negotiating other aspects of a severance agreement besides just money, including health benefits, outplacement services, and restrictive covenants (like non-compete clauses). 

And what advice is given to executives to get the "best" package? According to the article: "Don’t Take It Personally. Speak to Someone Who’s On Your Side. Determine Exactly What You Want."

For employers, the article is a fresh reminder that no matter how difficult it may be for the employer to make the decision, it’s almost always harder on the employee.  Understanding what may be going through the executive’s mind and understanding what their needs may be, may be a good path to follow in wrapping up any severance agreement with that employee.