Coping with Redundancy

“How can this happen to me?” “I must have done something wrong” and “How can I tell my family and friends?” are three commonly experienced reactions to being made redundant by your employer.

The topic of redundancy presents an important and deep-seated concern to not just the military but individuals employed in the civilian working world too. It can happen at any time and sometimes more than once. Whether you’re already familiar with what to expect or you fear redundancy on the horizon and don’t know what to do, it is okay to go through a range of emotions during this time.

Not everybody is the same and how individuals respond to being made redundant varies greatly from one person to another. Any critical juncture during a person’s career can pose a great deal of uneasiness and concern but the subject of redundancy remains particularly sensitive and generally presents a series of unwelcome emotions, as a result. With some, the effects of being made redundant and a difficulty in coping can last for a considerable amount of time; for others the acceptance process can come a lot quicker.

OA Career Consultant, Fiona Jackson has not only been made redundant before but she has also been required to make a number of employees redundant during her career. Neither experiences are pleasant but Fiona joined our recent webinar ‘Coping with Redundancy’ to discuss how to deal with the emotions that typically follow redundancy, coming up with a workable plan and using the opportunity to take time and reflect.

“It comes as a shock”, says Fiona. “Even if you had a feeling it was about to happen”. Often, individuals will go through a period of denial or feeling very angry until finally reaching a stage of acceptance - It’s completely normal to feel this and some personalities tend to take their employer’s decision personally. The frequently asked question “Have I done something wrong?” enters the minds of many but in fact; the decision of redundancy really can be arrived at for a number of reasons. It could be that the company is going through some major restructuring – some roles will have become obsolete as a result of new technology. Maybe the company has suffered a substantial loss of clients so can therefore no longer offer a consistent amount of work, or perhaps there is now less demand for the area that you’re working in. There are many reasons for being made redundant, so don’t assume that you are at fault and somehow provoked the decision.

If you’re ever worried about revealing your redundancy to family and friends, don’t be. Make sure to involve them from the outset because those that are closest to you can help you in deciding what your options are and how to go about pursuing your next move. “Redundancy usually comes with some stigma attached”, says Fiona. “Some people are embarrassed about it or ashamed when they needn’t feel that way. When I looked around my peer group, I realised that not one of my friends had been able to avoid it and unfortunately, some have experienced redundancy more than once”, she adds.

It is extremely important that you prepare yourself for what lies ahead with an up to date CV and LinkedIn profile. When you do secure an interview, have an objective and realistic story ready – try not to be negative about your previous employer. You never know – they may have contacts in the company and presenting yourself in an honest and open manner will further serve a good connection with the interviewer.

Having a workable plan is a must; it is important that you consider your plan as your job for the time being, so set yourself goals and targets e.g. “by next week, I will have contacted 25 people.” This will help you to reflect positively on the result of redundancy and hopefully consider it a real opportunity to discover a new and even brighter future. You may choose to follow your dream of setting up your own business or retraining in something entirely different – redundancy will grant you the time to really think about what you’d like to do next.

Redundancy offers you the opportunity to plan for the future you want, but though this requires a great deal of reassessment and preparation, you must make sure to be kind to yourself during this time. Take it in your stride, don’t panic and remember to look after yourself.

Fiona completed a Short Service Commission with the Royal Army Education Corps and subsequently spent three years in the TA as an intelligence officer with the Royal Artillery. Since then Fiona gained her extensive HR experience in both the commercial sector – working for the UK’s leading retailer John Lewis and a City-based strategic intelligence company; and in the not-for-profit sector as international recruitment officer for the development charity, Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO). She joined the OA in November 2010.