Redundancy Part 1 - where do I go from here

REDUNDANCY: PART 1

Is redundancy something that you are, or might be, having to deal with?   If so then I hope it is not taking too great a toll on your emotions and you are feeling supported at home and at work.

I have experienced redundancy 4 times over the course of my working career and felt a wide range of emotions from very negative to positive.

I now truly feel it is possible for redundancy to have positive outcomes. But it can take time and a lot of heartache and effort to get there.

Most of all I believe that redundancy always provides one with an opportunity to take stock.  I hope that my two blogs on this topic will help you should you find yourself in this position.

Redundancy definitions

I’ve just checked the dictionary definitions of redundancy.  The Oxford Dictionary gives two that are relevant to this blog:

  1. the state of being not or no longer needed or useful
  2. the state of being no longer in employment because there is no more work available

 

I find it interesting to realise that I’ve sometimes seen my redundancies as confirming the first definition.

Redundancy was personal and meant that I, myself, was no longer needed or useful. Businesses were getting rid of me which was devastating to my sense of value or worth in my work. I found it crushed my self-confidence.

However, I have learned over time to be able to see that my redundancy situations were not personal. Although they certainly felt so at the time. This in turn has enabled me to reduce and actually lose many of my feelings of inadequacy.

I’ve learned that my redundancy situations, although very personal to me, were the outcome of business restructuring or economic drivers outside anyone’s control, such as the current Covid-19 situation.

The most important thought that I want to share with you:

If there is one thing that I would like you to take from this blog it is the message that redundancy is NOT about you! It’s about the business or economic situation your firm finds themselves in. 

There is no getting away from the fact that being made redundant is still a difficulty for you to deal with and can be very painful.

But, hopefully, by trying to remove any internal negative emotions you have about being made redundant, you will find that being made redundant is not so harmful to your sense of worth or capability.  I repeat, that you are being made redundant says nothing about you and your abilities!

As I mentioned before I’ve been made redundant 4 times and have experienced a wide range of emotions as an outcome.  I will talk about the first two times here and the second two, as well as what came after, in follow up blogs… there is a lot to get through!

My first experience of redundancy

The first time I experienced redundancy it came as a huge shock to me. I was working in a small firm and whilst I knew the business was having hard times I didn’t realise they needed to reduce staffing. In fact I felt quite secure because I was the secretary to the firm and no one else did what I did. I prepared quotes, answered the telephone, made appointments etc. I felt like the central hub of the business.

Until the day that the two owners of the firm sat with me to explain that they were letting me go and why. They were as kind as they could be but I loved this job and was bereft.  I felt totally useless… it was beyond me to see their ‘bigger picture’… that they could do most of the jobs that I did and so they could save my salary and put it to better use in their business.

They took me to see their accountant who explained all this, advising me that I would have excellent references and a month’s notice pay.  I left at the end of the week, deflated, very unhappy and also worried about getting another job because my income was a necessity to our family finances.

In fact I got another job quickly. It was an administrative role in a business further away and at a slightly lower salary but I was just grateful to have it!

Redundancy number 2!

Again it was quite a small business, although larger than the first, and there were two of us doing a similar role.  My redundancy happened about 15 months after starting with the firm on my return to work after the Christmas holidays. And, again, came totally out of the blue!

I was informed by the MD that they needed to reduce staffing. They felt that it was fairest for me as the last person in the role to be the one to leave.   It was a massive shock!  Timing made it all the worse because my husband and I had extended ourselves to buy our sons a top of the range computer that Christmas. Something that we could now ill afford to have done!

It was very hard to pick myself up from this second redundancy.  Because it was my second experience in a relatively short time frame  I felt pretty useless. I felt that I must not be as good at my work as I thought I had been. So again I made it about me and not the business.

It took over three months to find another job this time during which I was very stressed about money. I felt that I was letting my husband and family down. I was also feeling a lack of control about my life and work choices which made me depressed. This was not a good place to be.

Starting to find positive outcomes from redundancy

But, ultimately, there was also a positive outcome.  During that enforced time off I took stock of my working life and what I wanted from it.

I literally sat with a piece of paper (I still have it!) divided down the middle with my working wants/don’t wants on the top of two columns.  I then wrote all the aspects of work/working life and myself that I wanted or liked and those that I didn’t in the respective column.  If you find yourself in a similar situation I’d recommend that you do the same, if for no other reason than it will help you feel you have some knowledge about and control of what is going on in your life.

Once I had those thoughts listed I researched what job/career opportunities might be open to me.  I say career at this point because it was something I’d always wanted. But having left school with few paper qualifications and starting my family at a young age it was something I had put to the back of my mind.

What I did next

My ‘stock taking’ allowed me to realise that my sons were now all at middle and upper school and did not need me around as much, thus freeing my choices.  But qualifications, or rather lack of them, were still a barrier to some of the roles that appealed to me. I was particularly interested in being a psychologist, social worker or teacher.

I had a supportive husband who was happy for me to return to adult education and work part time around that.  We could both see the potential long term gains from this, for me personally and for the family financially.  And so, whilst we were far from being financially ‘comfortable’, we looked long and hard at our financial situation. We managed to find items we could cut or reduce the cost of to make up in the shortfall in my earnings in the short term.

The outcome of my research…

The result was that I was able to go to a local university as a mature student.  I started with an access course to make up for those missing qualifications and then went on to a 3 year, full time course, in Psychology with Biology for which I achieved a 2:1 Honours degree.  I’m proud to say I started my access year in the same year that my eldest son started his degree, although having A Levels he finished a year before me!

Whilst the course was full time it didn’t take 5 days of 9-5 and so I was able to find temp work that I could fit around my studies and one of these roles led into a permanent post.

Temp work is another recommendation I would make if you find yourself facing redundancy. It can help take the financial pressure off while you work out your next steps and can lead into full time work as it did with me.

To say I was exhausted with study, work and being a mother would not exaggerate. But I gained so much from every aspect of my life that somehow I managed it all and I felt very satisfied with how my working life was continuing.

Quick takeaways!

I hope if you are already or likely to experience redundancy that something in my experiences above will help you.  For me, trying to increase my perception of my ability to deal with the problems it can cause was key. But I realise this is not the same for everyone and also that one has to be in the right state of mind to be able to actively look at the situation in as objective as manner as possible.

So here are some thoughts that you might find helpful.

  • Try to ensure that you get a meaningful reference before you leave. Not just dates of employment. This will help your confidence and give you something in your hand to share in future interviews.
  • Ask for paid time off to attend interviews. If you don’t ask you will never know…
  • Redundancy is not about you. It’s about the financial situation your firm finds itself in.
  • Undertake a household financial audit to see where you can cut costs. Simply sit and look at your bank account, receipts and spur of the moment spending.  You might see things you can remove or reduce spending on. It’s always good to have an idea of our finances, this is an opportunity to look at yours.
  • Consider taking temp work so that your financial worries can be reduced. This can allow you some time to take stock of your working life. You might also find that you are offered a permanent post as an outcome.
  • Try to take some time to really think about what you would like to do going forward. Then research what you need to do to make it happen.

Can I help you?

I hope that you have found this blog useful.  I will go on to talk about my further redundancies in my next blog… with more positive outcomes to share I believe.

If you feel I can be of help to you during this time of change do please get in touch. We would start with a free chat to see if working with me would be useful to you.

Until the next time sending virtual hugs

Maggie

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