Your boss has come up to you and told you they are in the “consulting Stage” about your role, as you have been earmarked for redundancy and they want to “consult” with you about what happens next.
You need to know this, it is very unlikely anything will change and you will soon be told you have been made redundant. And unless you have some sort of amazing magic rabbit in your pocket, your will be asked to leave. Although the Fair Work Commission (Click here for FWC Site) does state “Consultations should be meaningful and should be engaged in before an irreversible decision to terminate has been made. “Consultation is not perfunctory advice on what is about to happen … consultation is providing the individual, or other relevant persons, with a bona fide opportunity to influence the decision maker”
First thing in your head is probably something like “WTF”, “Holy shit” or some other incredulous superlative. Then you may go into a mind-numbing downward spiral. Meanwhile, your boss is still talking to you. They saying something like, it is the current economic situation or a strategic reshuffle was necessary, etc, etc. and now you are just trying to hold it together.
The news is still raw and your mind goes into overdrive attempting to figure out what to do, you begin packing up your stuff, others (if they are aware) are concerned about you and asking how they can help, all the while they are thinking “OMG, am I next” – some may even be thinking “OMG, I just dodged a bullet”.
Is this happening to you? With COVID-19 its happening a LOT and it’s pretty typical, I believe I have a little experience here after having been through three of my own redundancies, the last time = 3 DAYS ago. At some stage you will be thinking “why me” and then you will have many reasons why it should not have been you; you could even justify why it should have been someone else. Then, you go to the next stage, how do I tell my family.
Why do most people feel like this? A number of things get triggered internally, there is the self-preservation, ego, self-esteem, image, etc. This is the emotional aspect and none of these are comfortable feelings. They may even lead to feelings of panic – or worse.
After having been through a few, I want to tell you what I have learnt about redundancy and its affects and hopefully how to pull through. I do this as I am tired of reading ‘advice’ from others who are on a different planet or have never known the experience and the feelings themselves.
What the hell DO you do?
There are plenty of site on the internet giving advice, some being very applicable while some give the impression all you need to do is pick yourself and just grab that next opportunity. They are right but it will not be as easy as waking up to a new, great world.
Everyone is different on how they react, their circumstances and the working environment they are within.
Hopefully I have listed below something that can help you. Remember I am not a psychologist or an “advisor” who has never been made redundant and still wants to give you’re their advice. These are just suggestions and ideas from someone who has felt the pain…
- Don’t make it personal
- Don’t get stuck on it, get into action
- Contacts – family, friends and others
- Plan and use your finances wisely
- Getting a job, is now your job
- Information provides Strength
- Leave your baggage at home
- What I did/am doing
1- Don’t make it personal
Yes, it may hurt and there is a big chance you will either blame it on yourself or try to figure out ‘why me’, or even start thinking about the “fairness”. Remember, companies will go through the pros and cons of making roles redundant, it is in their own interest to make the right decision and it is not about any individual (usually). In all likelihood, your skills could have been underutilised, unnecessary, unappreciated or just unrealised (they did not know your potential) but this is not about “fairness” or whether this person deserves it as opposed to another. This is rarely in the decision-making process; it is all about the ROLE.
We can all agree, yes you have just received some tough news, so avoid making it even harder by making it personal as this ties up all your resources and drains you of your energy (which is not a good thing – for you). However hard it may, especially the first time it happens, remember it was the ROLE that was made redundant – you just happened to have that role, at that time, in that company.
Often people need to grieve over this, really. It can be traumatic, especially if it’s your first redundancy. If it helps you get through, let it be personal – but no more than a few days, allow yourself to go through the range of emotions, feel sad, feel angry, vent to someone who will listen (but will NOT collude with you). Don’t hold it in and don’t make it a blame game – that will bring in more “players” and even harder to work on.
Note: if it feels insurmountable and you are absolutely devastated, make sure you talk to others; family, friends, Doctor or therapist. This is serious stuff, do not hold it in and pretend you are ok, or let it overwhelm you. This is not just about getting a job; this is also about your health. Your mental health is just the same as your physical health, if you have a broken tooth, you go to the dentist you don’t ‘wait it out’ or do it yourself.
There will be some who look forward to redundancy – they didn’t like the job or they wanted something different plus they get a payout, but they too need to get the emotion out. Everyone will get affected somehow, until you have had a couple goes at redundancy and you learn how to handle it.
Keep heart, maintain your confidence, your self-esteem and your self-respect. Ok, so you have re-composed yourself and you acknowledge it is not personal. Now you need to move on and start things happening.
2- Don’t get stuck on it, get into action
Ok, you have let yourself grieve and let your emotions get cleared. If you still feel shocked or angry or rejected or any of a whole lot of other negative emotions, maybe even a bunch of them at the same time you need to go back and work through these or move them out of the way – from now on they add no value. Neither will pondering, reviewing, second guessing or going through a lot of “what-ifs”. These feelings and actions will just put you into a loop – or spiral down i.e. they will get you stuck.
Of course you may not like it, but this is not about trying to like it or even agree with it, it is about you changing the outcome. No-one else can do it.
Once you accept what happened, you are in a better state of mind to see clearly where you are, where you want to be and can start to plan on an action to get there. The trick is to start this process sooner rather than later. Trust me, days become weeks and weeks become months very quickly if you are not doing something about it – now.
So, what immediate actions can you take:
- Firstly – you need to be in the right head space. Don’t wake up at noon and walk around in your PJs saying you’ll get onto it. This makes doing anything harder. Get up at a reasonable hour, do all the prep you would as if you were going to work. Now we can start…
- Review and list your skills, experience and attitude. You may not even realise the breadth of skills and experience you have. And your attitude to this current situation and any potential role will be important to an employer. Review job websites to see how others have listed their skills and how employers list their requirements, use anything to increase your skills list – there is a BIG caveat here, be honest with yourself, trumped up skills and experiences will likely be found out and will not go down well.
- Sit and think about what you WANT as a job. This is not a time to go silly and pick your ideal dream job, its about being realistic yet flexible. Its about finding a range of jobs you would like to do – open yourself up to other opportunities e.g. new industry, new role, new location.
- Your employer should have offered you the contact details of an outplacement service. Make the most of it, listen to what they say, share your Resume/CV with them, they can help make it current/presentable. They may even help with interview rehearsals. Remember, leave the ego at home, this is not about “looking good” or knowing it all, it is about being honest, listening and learning. Some people are cynical about outplacement but it is free and the providers are dedicated experts so make the most of your time with them.
- If nothing else, review the internet for advice and suggestions on getting a job. For example, review SEEK or CareerOne, etc. they can be really helpful with information on cover letters, resumes, interviews, etc and it will all be for free.
By this stage you should be feeling like you have some control again. This is a good thing, you may not yet have a job but you are in the right shape to get a job. Now you do not need to do this all alone, there are people out there who want you to succeed, to “get back into it” and as we all know, it is not just about the money and that means support. Part-3 is about your support and your contacts …
3- Contacts and Support – family and friends, old employers and even acquaintances
Network and talk, ask anybody and everybody to help. Don’t make this about ‘saving face’ or being embarrassed about redundancy – tell people “my ROLE was made redundant, so I am looking for my next one”, there is nothing for you to feel bad about, ANYONE can be made redundant.
Sometimes the occasional vent with others who were also made redundant can help a little, but if they are not moving on and are stuck, take care as there is a big risk you go back to the R-Day (Redundancy Day 1).
When talking about this to others don’t get drawn in and start the collusion and gossip, some people really love the drama of it all – you do NOT want this to be a drama about you. There is no need to get into the detail or try to find the reasons, it happened. Tell people you want to move on and may need their support to help lift you and keep your confidence up. Most people will do this without question, for those who say they will but don’t, it is then a case of you saying “thanks, but no thanks”.
Also, make it easy for your family and friends to support you by not rehashing and re-enacting R-Day again and again, they will want to support you and there are far better ways than being passive listeners.
As for contacts and networks other than family and close friends – use them, make them aware your role was made redundant. They may not have a job for you but they may know of one or have information that may help you get one. If no-one knows you need help in getting another job, they cannot help, just as you would help others, let others help you.
We are now at the stage where you know its not about you personally, you are taking affirmative action and using your networks. There is possibly now a trepidation about finances, what is going to happen next, and that is in Part-4 about your finances.
4- Plan and use your finances wisely
On being told you have been made redundant, your financial situation needs to be reviewed, assessed and plans put in place to ensure the best use until you get more steady income.
When you are made redundant you will get an extra amount of money depending on your length of employment. This money will hopefully be enough to allow you to re-calibrate, research and re-evaluate your finances to keep food on the table and a roof over your head and perhaps the funds to up-skill in areas that will help in your job-hunting.
There are a number of opportunities that will appear once your role has been made redundant so you don’t have a job. These can be anything from finding a new career path, begin some education to up sill or even becoming an entrepreneur and starting a business, just remember any choice you make will revolve around your ability to keep your finances in control.
Before you run off and come up with a great money making idea or just give up and wait for the inevitable, as Sam McFaul recommends, do these basic tasks:
- Do a debt Audit – Do a debt audit. Your credit score while working will usually be much better than if you lose your job, as the loss of income means lenders will be less keen to give you credit.
– Therefore, if your existing debts aren’t at cheap rates, it’s best to apply sooner to try to cut their costs , whether with the same provider or another with cheaper rates.
- Pay off debts. If you’ve any spare savings, use them to clear outstanding credit cards or loans. Having debts hanging over you during redundancy is a nightmare. The cost of most debts vastly exceeds the interest earned on savings.
– It’s important you keep access to emergency funds if you need them. If you decide to repay debts, but it takes longer than planned to find a new job, you may need money later on for day-to-day living.
- Check out mortgage help schemes. If you have a mortgage, work out what level of protection you have if you were to lose your job. Both private, work-based and government schemes may help.
– Boost your income. There are a host of things you can do to bring in cash in the short term, from mystery shopping to flogging your CD collection.
To be truly prepared, if losing your job’s likely, start living now as if you’d already lost it. Cut back on everything, and put spare cash away to help you live when there’s less income. This way while you’re living tighter for longer, the depths won’t be as deep.
Although Sam McFaul is with a UK group; his general advice is still applicable, just watch the legal aspects applicable to your own country. He can be found on: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/family/redundancy-help/
The Australian Government provides a lot of information as well, refer to the following pages:
While we are showing the ATO websites to help in managing your finances, you must also be VERY aware of the three different types of payouts and how they are paid as they have different tax rates i.e. 1- at the marginal rate, 2- tax exempt (up to a cap) and 3- at a concessional rate. Remember, the bigger the amount you are getting, the more the wrong tax rate will hurt.
For information on the different taxes, go to the ATO websites:
Two other good sites you could also review (a bit simpler to understand):
The above websites talk about your applicable tax rates for the different payouts. Before you agree to any payout plan, ensure your payout is under the correct heading. An example of the AU tax rates as at May 2020:
|Annual Leave, Long Service Leave, Incentives, bonus, etc||Marginal rate|
|Redundancy||Tax free for first $10,638 plus $5,320 for every completed year of service.|
|Employment Termination Payment (ETP) – including redundancy above cap, and
ex gratia payments (golden handshakes)
|32% tax or
17% concessional rate
Note: This content does not constitute tax and/or legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. You should seek tax, legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any Content.
5- Getting a job, is now your job.
Although getting a job is paramount there are a few things to be aware of.
- Firstly, aim for jobs you can do and in the right range. If the jobs you are applying for would normally be out of reach, don’t even try now. If you were a storeman, there is no point trying for a manager’s role, a supervisor might work but only if you CAN do the role. Be careful going the other way, if you are a manager and you take a lessor role, it will be even harder later to get back up (employers look at your last role, even if it was only for a short period – unless you can sell yourself really well, employers will place less emphasis on your ‘best’ role.
What this means: don’t “Flood” the market by applying for every role you have even an outside chance of getting, especially with recruiters. They will remember the try-harders and you don’t want to look like a spammer. Yes, there are a lot of others also looking for jobs but be targeted and precis.
- Think about what you have to offer – and it is not “you”. It is all those skills, experiences and attitudes you listed earlier. You are selling a Service; these are your abilities and you need to show any potential employer you have what they want and more. Match your skills and experience to the requirements the employer is looking for – don’t waste your time or theirs.
- Be flexible. Ok you want a permanent job, to feel that safety and surety of a steady income. Well that logic hasn’t worked so far. If you want a permanent role go for it, but do not discount contract, part-time, temporary or casual work – it is still an income. Sometimes these roles turn into permanent ones as the market stabilises and companies get more confidence in the market.
- Focus on what you are doing, do not worry about the news and stories about how difficult things are. These are distractions you do not want to get caught up in. Keep looking for jobs online, in the newspaper, via Linked-In, Facebook, Twitter, your family, friends and professional networks, recruitment consultants and on the websites of employers you would like to work for.
- I notice some sites/people recommend doing something EVERYDAY, even if it’s just for an hour. Personally, I found this to be counter-productive, after a short time it feels like you are drowning and there is no way out. I recommend you do the job hunting just like it IS your job, so every day Monday to Friday put in at least an hour and no more the seven hours a day into getting another job. This could be applying for roles, updating your resume, practising interviews, etc. Then on Saturday and Sunday totally stop thinking about it. You NEED to have downtime and recharge – you WILL get more benefit out of doing it this way.
Westpac Bank have a website with a “Helpful budget Tool” – this might be handy
*Note: this is not a recommendation for the bank.
6- Information provides strength
Get information about all your risks and opportunities, areas where you are a supported and areas where you are not (similar to a SWOT matrix). The more information the better (stronger) decisions you can make. For example;
- What is the job market like, is your resume up-to-date, do you have a good cover letter – note: a resume is about what you have done, a cover letter will show who you are. Are you chasing the right jobs?
- Your current situation on money –your potential and actual receipts, your potential and current expenses. Will you be living, surviving and until when does this change?
- Contact numbers for accountant, tax adviser, bank, etc. After you have as much of the above information as you can get, talk to these people and see how you can get more for YOUR money. How can you limit costs and increase benefits?
- Find alternative ideas on how can you increase income and reduce costs for example; if you have space, could you get in a border/flatmate, if you live somewhere there is limited parking and you have off road parking – could you rent it out. Could you do baby-sitting or pet-sitting, for a financial top-up.
As I have suggested previously don’t just sit and chased jobs 24/7. You need a break from job seeking. Use this time to get information that helps your situation (don’t “research” negative news how bad it all is – this WILL de-motivate you).
7- Leave your baggage at home
Redundancy is usually not a good thing, most people become stressed or angry or depressed or a multitude of other negative feelings (feelings that do not add value to the situation). Don’t hold these in, share them with a family member or friend (real friend) or therapist, etc.
Do NOT pass on these feelings in resumes, cover letter, interviews, acquaintances, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Neither should you bag out your old company or boss no matter how much you want to. These actions will add no value to your cause, in fact they will in all likelihood sabotage anything positive you do/have done.
8- What I did/do
I have learnt these through my own experience, watching and listening to others and crazy as it may seem, by having to make people redundant. It is never a good experience either being made redundant or telling someone they’re redundant.
When I have been told I am redundant, my head screams WTF, why me, and the feelings go rampant, BUT only for a moment. I get them back under control and start talking about the options that I have, how I can maximise the outcome for ME. And as a manger I also think about those staying behind, they may have a job, but they will not be feeling elated or “safe”. I may not have good news but I do not need to make others suffer as well.
I do not leave anything unfinished; I want to leave on good terms. For me, this helps me accept what is happening AND I can hold my head high. I know then, I have been professional, logical and will come out of the situation without dragging a lot of baggage with me. I will leave with a clean sheet and I have not made the situation worse for me, my staff or the company.
After I get home, I begin my plan. I review, read, focus, reassess and a multitude of other things – all without getting into the “oh-why-me” cycle. This means I am focusing on moving forward. It is not complicated; positive action/thoughts usually have positive outcomes, negative actions/thoughts nearly always have negative outcomes, it is a simple as that. Now, I am not anyone special, I do get affected but I have learnt to be pragmatic – and this makes it better for me in the end.
Redundancy is never a “nice” thing and still, it was about a role I was doing, not my ability to do the role. I will do all the things I have listed above. I may not get my dream job but I will get a job I can do and I will get paid for. Then, after I am in a comfortable space, I can aim to getting into a happy space.
Take care, look after yourself. I hope some of this may have helped.