Separation Incentives

Separation incentives are staffing reduction strategies that involve offering payment or other benefits in return for an employee's agreement to voluntarily separate.

Separation incentives may be different for employees in bargaining units. Consult with the Labor Relations Office for more information about represented employees.

The most common forms of incentives in Washington State include:

  • Voluntary Separation Incentive Program
  • Voluntary Retirement Incentive Program
  • Downshifting Incentive Program

Using these incentive programs requires approval by the Washington State Office of Financial Management (OFM). Details are on OFM's web site at OFM's Voluntary Separation and Downshifting Incentive Program for State Employees (PDF file).

Factors to consider when implementing incentive programs include:

  • Strategy. What business purpose does the program serve? Retaining key knowledge and skills? Reducing management and overhead? Minimizing business disruption?
  • Incentive Levels. Will incentive levels be staggered? What criteria will be used to determine the incentives offered to different employees?
  • Budget. What financial resources are available? Note: OFM requires all incentives to be 100% cost neutral. Expenditures should be recovered in salary savings by the end of the biennium.
  • Reporting. How will the program's impact be analyzed and reported?
  • Change Management. How will employee perceptions be managed? What will be done to ensure that the program is viewed as fair and transparent?