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Coping with Redundancy

Some tips on how to cope with redundancy from someone who's been there.

‘Redundancy” is a word that can send a shiver down most peoples spines. It can be one of the most stressful and emotional processes that someone ever has to go through in their work life. Having been through the process myself I know how it feels and having working with a number of people dealing with it now, I know how tough it is on everyone.

I was made redundant 4 years ago from a small boutique recruitment business and the process left me completely decimated. It came completely out of the blue (which happens in many cases) and was a torturous process. With the various stages of the process that the company needed to go through and at each stage I became more resigned to my fate, but there was always the glimmer of hope that they might actually change their mind. But they had lost 2 major contracts which accounted for a significant proportion of the business so that was that.

At the time the process was pretty horrendous, especially as my performance was fine, I was meeting my KPI’s, had been with the company for a few years and was part of the senior team (which was the problem, my costs were higher than many of the other consultants). I couldn’t get my head around the fact that I hadn’t done anything wrong, yet I was being told “we don’t want you any more”… well that’s how it felt. I felt rejected, ashamed… a failure. I then had the fear and worry of finding another job to provide for my family.

When I look back to that time, I realise that it was actually the best thing that could’ve happened to me. It was like the universe had said –

“You should’ve left there a while ago as there better things for you to do with your life, your journey needs to continue on a different path. You’ve not seen it yourself so I’m going to make it happen”.

It was like being hit across the face with the ‘wet fish of the universe’ and made to move on.

Through my time as a counsellor and coach I have found that many of my clients that have (or are) going through the process of redundancy have similar experiences. They experience similar feelings, same fears and worries as I did. So how do you cope with this and what can you do to get back in to a positive frame of mind?

Below is a brief list of 10 things you should (or shouldn’t) do to help you get through.

1) Understand and keep telling yourself – it’s not you that has been made redundant but your role in the company. It is not personal and (one of the hardest things to get your head round) is know that it has nothing to do with your performance. You are still that great performing person you were 3 months ago!!

2) Realise that you are not alone in this and that over the last 18 months the number of people experiencing what you are going through has increase incredibly. (little comfort I know, but it is comfort all the same)

3) Take a breath – not the time to panic and make hasty decisions. Talk to your family and friends. Explain what has happened and ask for their support. Talking it through can help. (now might be a good time to see a counsellor/coach to help support and guide you through this challenging time in your life) .

4) One of the most important things is to remain as positive and as confident in your self as possible. Not always an easy thing to do, but vital for you to be in the right space to be able to decide what to do next and to be able to promote yourself in whatever you decide to do next

5) Keep your routine. Try and continue to get up at your usual time and go through your usual routine. After all you now have a new job – The job of deciding what are you going to do next and then implementing that plan.

6) Continue to eat well. You need all the energy you can get and eating healthy food can help to boost the energy levels and thought processes

7) Avoid excessive alcohol and drug use. It’s easy to reach for whatever appears to soothe the pain, but reality is always there the next day and it’s a lot harder to focus on what you need to do to get your life back on track through the pain of a hangover.

8) Get your CV updated. This is a painful process for many people as they haven’t kept it up to date and therefore there is quite a bit of work to do on it. Your helpful career coach/counsellor should be able to help you with this if needed. Remember, this is your sales document that sells you and your skills. It’s got to be good to get you an interview

9) Don’t be bitter. Try not to waste energy on things you can’t change or doesn’t matter. No matter how ‘hard done by’ you feel, feeling angry and bitter towards the company just makes you feel worse and takes away energy from what you should be focusing on.

10) Budget wisely. If you can get some control on your expenses this can help you to cope with the reduced household income. There is no point putting your head in the sand and refusing to look at the bank account and open the bills when they arrive. Talk to a budget advisor and your bank.

Most important of all is to make sure that you talk to someone and share the process. A partner, family member, husband/wife, friend, counsellor/coach anyone who is supportive of you. This is a traumatic experience and one which is very hard to work through on your own.

As hard as it is, for many people it is also the start of a new chapter in their lives. An opportunity to re-evaluate what is important, draw up some new goals and live a different life. For others it’s a chance to do a similar role with a different company which stimulates and challenges them (and might even pay more than they were on before). Ultimately it is down to YOU as to how the future plays out and it is YOU who has to get through this hurdle, because that’s all it is, on of life’s hurdles and we’ve all had plenty of them to deal with….and I’m afraid there will be plenty more further down the path.