How to deal with Redundancy

I’m currently working with clients who, due to the impact of Covid-19, have recently been made redundant. It goes without saying that it’s a difficult and worrying time for each of them. 

 Like many of us, the year began with their individual life plans and goals – holidays, a house move, changing job, or securing promotion – only to see these decimated by the coronavirus pandemic. Instead their lives have been put on hold and replaced with uncertainty.

 Career change is something each of us is likely to experience at some point in our working lives. The ideal position from which to start is an open, positive mindset; and time, so you can research and plan the change you want to make. 

 In many cases, redundancy is unexpected and will not give you the luxury of time. Instead you find yourself considering change whilst dealing with financial pressures, a lack of confidence or clear direction.

 Each of us deals with redundancy-related stress differently. Whilst most set about job search positively and with the right intention, it doesn’t take much for emotions to change as we absorb the gravity of the situation. 

 In her post for Employer News, Lisa Baker, considers 5 stages of redundancy grief: 

  • denial
  • frustration/Anger
  • bargaining
  • depression
  • acceptance

 As you can see, they’re similar to emotions following a break-up, or the grieving process. In fact, these were identified in 1969 by Kübler-Ross, a Swiss psychiatrist, based on her work with terminally ill patients. Whilst not linear, you’re likely to face some, or all, stages at different points in the days and weeks following redundancy.  

 I’ve noticed that following an initial positive session, over 50% of clients come to the second more subdued and struggling to move forward. So rather than focus on job search we instead focus on stress management. 

Immediately following redundancy it’s natural to want to replace the time spent working with job search.

However you also need to allow yourself time to adjust, reflect and plan your next steps; and so, based upon my experiences of working with redundancy clients, my advice would be to:

  •  get your head straight
  • make a career plan

Granted, getting your head straight is far easier to say than to do. 

When faced with a stressful situation, your brain will respond differently, leaving you forgetful, disorganised and unable to learn new skills, as this piece for Harvard Medical School highlights. The 5 tips they suggest for coping with stress are simple and effective: 

  • establish control over the situation
  • get a good night’s sleep
  • get organised
  • get help if you need it
  • change your attitude towards stress

As this report from mental health charity MIND shows, more than 60% of adults reported their mental health got worse during lockdown. So imagine then having to deal with the added complication of redundancy. 

Simple tasks, like doing something you love such as (safely) visiting friends, baking, reading, painting, walking, or whatever you enjoy most, are ways to help you to overcome stress and tackle a task such as a job search. That’s not to say it will alleviate all stress, but it will help you to focus your thoughts in a more positive way.

A clear head and staying objective will help you to tackle job search, handle rejections and prepare you for those all-important interviews ahead. 

Another great tip is to make a career plan, setting objectives and timelines in order to help you achieve your career goal. My series of 3 blogs earlier this year (Planning a career change; Qualifications, Skills and Experience; Goals, Passions and Values) will help guide you through this process.

It’s reasonable, and arguably sensible, to start your job-search looking for a role similar to the one you’ve just left, although this is not always possible. 

A career plan will help you to plan your next steps, even if your next step is not your preferred job role. The security of work and a regular income will help to give you confidence to return to your long-term career plan when you’re ready.

 If you want to know more about your rights following redundancy this BBC guide will help you; and if you’re needing career support then please do reach out. Stay safe and well. 


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