For some people, redundancy is a relief. It is the kick up the bum they were looking for, a enforced break and the chance to go in a different direction. But if you didn’t see it coming, and you weren’t hoping for it then redundancy then it can really knock you sideways.
Here are a few thoughts that might help you deal with this.
You’re not redundant, your role is
Our work says something about who we are. It’s a major part of our identity so we are bound to wonder who we are when we’re not working and to feel lost. You so easily fall into thinking that you are no wanted when it is really about the role.
Redundancy when it applies to the workplace is defined as “the state of being no longer in employment because there is no more work available”. But we hear “the state of being not or no longer needed or useful” which applied to machinery and has very different connotations.
“I have been made redundant before and it’s a terrible blow; redundancy is a rotten word because it makes you think you are useless” – Billy Connolly
Your intrinsic value is unchanged and your job is just one of the many roles you have in life. As a human being, you are never useless. Your current employer might not need you in that particular role any more but your family and friends still need you, your community does and there will be other customers for your skills and knowledge. Okay so you might need some training but unlike this Walkman (remember these?), there is still a future for you.
It is natural to feel unsettled. Work gives us so much; structure, a reason to get up in the morning (and as we have learned from COVID a reason to wash and dress), social interaction and purpose, as well as paying the bills. That’s why the impact of redundancy is likened to a bereavement and we can follow a very similar emotional path.
The status quo is so very under-rated and we take so much of our lives for granted. Just take a moment to think of how much of your day is known to you and how much will be thrown up in the air by this change. In my mid 20’s, I faced the “choice” of redundancy in a recession or keeping my job by moving across the country and further away from family and friends. Not much of a choice really! Sitting on the train home one day, I suddenly became acutely aware of how much of my day would be different after the move; from what time I got up in the morning, how I got to work, where I shopped, everything. An insight which has lived with me ever since.
It is a lot to take in so don’t deny your emotions, recognise them for what they are and don’t bottle them up. Anger and resentment could prevent you from moving on. Feeling hopeless can lead to depression. So seek counselling if you are finding it difficult to deal with these feelings.
Be honest about your situation and how you feel about it with family, friends and business contacts. There is no need to feel ashamed or embarrassed plus your network might be able to put you in touch with new opportunities. Right now, there are many people in your situation. It makes for a competitive jobs market but a lot of firms and organisations are ready to help you.
Take a deep breath and then get all the facts
If the news came as a shock, the finer details and the rationale for it can be difficult to take in at first. If you need a bit of time to process the news and reflect, say so and don’t allow yourself to be rushed. Then as soon as you’re ready, make sure you understand:
- What will the company expect from you
- Notice period and severance
- Restrictions on your job search such as garden leave
- Any allowance for time off for interviews
- Outplacement support
If you are at all unsure of your rights, or you are uncomfortable with the terms, seek the independent advice of a solicitor or independent HR consultant. Independent legal advice might be offered as part of the redundancy package or by your union. Once you have the information, plan your next steps and assess your financial situation. If you are a manager who is displaced alongside your team, make sure that someone is supporting you as well as you are are supporting your team. Don’t let the emotions of the team affect your own well-being or ability to deal with your own situation.
Recognise that everyone is different and will react differently to the news, have different levels of resources to rely on (financial, emotional and connections) and family concerns. Be aware of peer pressure.
Redundancy is a comma not a full stop
Redundancy is a pause. You didn’t ask for this, but you have been given the opportunity to get off the hamster wheel and reflect. If you can avoid doing so, don’t panic or rush into another job as now could be the time to do something different. Learn a new skill? Go back to what you really enjoy? Set up on your own?
“Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.” – Dalai Lama
In the thick of it, it can be difficult to view redundancy as a welcome opportunity to start afresh or a test of character to relish. But it could be an important stepping stone to something bigger and better. Take up any offers to work with outplacement firms or a coach who can help you take stock and reconnect with your strengths and what you really enjoy. Not only will this help to shape your future direction but the work will boost your confidence by reminding of all that you can offer a future employer.
Make finding work your job
If your employer hasn’t provided it, get help in making sure that your C.V. is up to date – and professional – and get interview practice. Confirm with the HR department whom future employers should contact for references. If you are not ready to target your C.V. to a particular role, make sure that you have captured all your achievements and career history so your C.V. is comprehensive and accurate and up to date. This is far easier to do when you have the people, the HR system and your work brain to hand! Don’t wait until you have left to get round to it as you will quickly forget your achievements, the timeline and key contacts.
As you move towards your last day, look beyond it and fill your free time with meetings with agencies and important contacts. Going from a full to blank diary could be unsettling. You might need a break but limit it. Getting yourself out of the house regularly and maintaining a work-like routine will keep you focused and make the transition into your next role much easier.
Update your Linked In profile and if you have done great work for colleagues or clients, ask them for endorsements or recommendations. If you need help with Linked In, I have some tips for you.
Throughout the process, and definitely once you’ve left your employer, diarise regular exercise. The endorphins will help you stay positive, provide social contact and keep you energised. Stay off the sofa and away from the telly. It will only sap your energy and your mood. Do you want “Pointless” to become a metaphor for your job search?
As you go through the search process for your next role, be prepared for setbacks and rejection. Seek feedback on your interview performance and hone your skills. Make sure that your expectations are realistic by researching the job market and talking to recruiters.
If you are looking for a change in direction or find the job-hunting process daunting, consider engaging a coach. Coaches like me can help you stay resilient through the search process, work through your future work options and if necessary, refresh your C.V. and interview technique. We can also help with confidence, operate as a sounding board and help you work through any blockages to your progress. An introductory coaching session is free so call me or book a short free chemistry session to find out more.