What do the automotive, airline, manufacturing and banking industries have in common? In the last 5 years they have all experiencing dramatic downsizing or complete closure. This has meant an incredible number of Australian workers have been made redundant. Maybe you or someone you know has been or are about to be made redundant. If so you should read this blog because it can help you cope and help you “bounce back” quickly.
Did you know that a new report by economist Ann Vourc’h for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found that each year around 2.3 per cent of Australian workers lose their jobs as a result of corporate downsizing or business closures. So really it is not so uncommon and generally not a reflection of you as an individual.
Recently I have had conversations with professionals who have been made redundant. They identified 6 things that you should do to avoid the redundancy blues.
Initially, they all thought being offered a redundancy was a great opportunity for a change and explore different opportunities. In hindsight they felt they were unprepared for what it really meant to lose your job. They did not really understand the emotional, psychological and financial impact of redundancy.
Six (6) common themes came out of my discussions and below I share them with you.
1. Money matters
The great myth about a redundancy is that the pay-out will be enough to sustain you comfortably while you “work things out”. Sometimes, if you have been with a business for an exceptionally long time then a redundancy pay-out is a wind fall. Generally, this is not the case. Depending on lengths or employment redundancy payments in Australia are between 1 and 6 months’ salary. Not a lot, right?
At first glance, a severance package looks good on paper. When the reality of taking care of a mortgage, personal loans, credit card debt; living expenses and maintaining a lifestyle sets in, then suddenly it is not enough.
For example, if you work in the banking industry then you will most likely lose employee benefits such as discounts on mortgage interest rates, discounted credit cards, and in some cases lose supported health cover benefits. This means your expenses increases which will negatively impacting on your lifestyle.
Of course, you can use the redundancy payment to pay out debt but then you have a significantly reduced budget for living expenses. This is the financial balancing act that you need to manage especially if you remain without a job for an extended period.
The people I spoke with all said that knowing your expenses and doing a budget before leaving your job is important. They all thought that getting advice with a professional financial advisor and understanding “your personal financials” is an important step in surviving redundancy.
2. Take a break (or a holiday)
Many people like to take a holiday when “between jobs”. This is a good idea so long as it fits within your budget (see above) and does not extend for an excessive period of time.
There is an emotional impact to being made redundant. It can be a bit like the grieving process. A break or a holiday can help you cope with that toll and help you come to terms with your new life.
Taking a holiday gives you space to think through your next steps. Often this thinking is best done away from your well-meaning family and friends who will give you unsolicited “helpful” career advice which will confuse, confound and ultimately annoy you.
The people I spoke with thought taking a break and getting away can help refresh and revitalise you. It can also steel you for your job search. They just kept stressing not to take an extravagant or expensive holiday!!
3. Keep Your Routine
It is easy to break your professional work routine when you are redundnat. People often report that initially when they were made redundant they took on a holiday attitude and didn’t “feel the need” to keep their routine. They report that they felt it was OK to sleep in, not shave for a few days, have “pyjamas and slippers” days, watch a daytime TV, play computers game during business hours. After all this was like a paid holiday – so they thought.
In reality you are experience a mindset change which replaces your professional work routine with a “holiday routine”. This is a disastrous mindset shift which will hinder your ability to find your next role quickly. One of the group summed it up best when they said, “it took me a while to realise that my new job was finding my next job and not having a set routine made that harder”!!
4. Create a Support Team
A very significant mistake people make is that they do not create a support network. All the professionals I have spoken with about redundancy have said that what they missed most about not working was the comfort of having ‘people around them” or “being part of a team”.
Imagine a career working in teams or businesses made up of 20, 30, 50, 100 or even 1000s of people. Think about the connections, relationships, camaraderie, the joking, the joy of achieving together – it’s all gone!
Suddenly, you are home alone with no-one to talk to, bounce ideas off, ask for help or share leads with, or celebrate triumphs. You are alone in your worry about what will happen to your career.
A downside to redundancy is isolation which can lead to mental health issues that are linked with suicide. The Male Health Clearinghouse of Australia in their article Unemployment And Suicide In Australian Males: A Close Connection (2012) stated, “there were 2535 suicide deaths in Australia, of which 80% were male.” This research offers evidence that unemployment influences suicide outcomes in males especially between the ages of 30 and 50.
A job loss can be a difficult, isolating and lonely experience, but it doesn’t need to be. If you are made redundant think about create a support network with fellow colleagues who have been made redundant. Commit to meet regularly as a group to support, encourage or share ideas and leads. Just remember that “misery loves company” so make sure the support group actually supports and it does not become about complaining and whinging.
5. Work your network
Your professional networks play an important role when you become redundant. In my experience your network is one of the most reliable way for finding out about “hidden jobs” – the ones that are not advertised – or finding out about upcoming opportunities.
When you are unemployed you should be networking like crazy. You need to put systems in place that ensures you meet with as many people in your network as possible. All the standard rules of networking apply except with the addition of one crucial question. When networking for work always ask, “Who else should I be talking to?”
Networking is a much more complex and structured process than most people realise and often people turning to their network for work do it from the wrong mindset. Doing networking incorrectly is damaging to your brand. You must do networking properly if you want to find employment this way. It might be worth speaking with a career coach about how to network effectively.
6. Redefine yourself
Being made redundant provides you with an opportunity to redefine yourself, sharpen your personal brand and develop new skills. Stephen Covey calls this “Sharpening the saw – the principle of balanced self-renewal”.
In redefining yourself you should be working on clarifying your purpose, reviewing your work values (i.e. what is important in my next job and what isn’t), assessing your skills and whether they will suffice in an ever-changing market. You should be looking at your social media and how you present yourself, is it contemporary, is it engaging?
Sharpening your saw also gives you structure, it shows the world you are being proactive in becoming a more skilled person. It allows you to make connections and have conversations with people you would not otherwise meet.
Redefining yourself is not done easily by yourself. It does take professional guidance from someone like a career coach or career counsellor. They are trained professionals who can help you redefine and relaunch yourself into the job market.
Is redundancy a threat or a reality for you? Has this article helped you discover the things you did not know? Do you know how to implement a strategy to reduce the redundancy blues?
Then you should take action. You deserve to know what to do next. You owe it to yourself to be as ready as possible to bounce into that next job.
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