How to deal with redundancy
Have you ever lost a job you loved? Maybe you've suffered a crisis of confidence after a long and successful career as a great company was brought to an abrupt end. I want to know what it's like to deal with redundancy, and bounce back when it feels like your world is falling apart. My name's Kimberly, and I used to work for Sainsbury's. I worked straight out of university, did their graduate training scheme, and worked for them for 22 years. Ending up as marketing and PR manager for beers, wines, and spirits. I was made redundant, and it came as a complete shock to me, and just saw me ending my career there, because I really enjoyed what I did. I had a call from my boss. Sadly she told me that I was one of the ones at risk. How did you feel? I burst into tears. I hadn't long been back from maternity leave, so I had a small baby. We'd just done an extension to our house and remortgaged, I was just trying to think, what am I going to do for money. I need to pay the bills, couldn't see a future outside of Sainsbury's. Maternity leave can sometimes knock your confidence. Did you feel confident at that point? No. I'd been out of the game for a year. So it there's a lot to come back to, a lot to learn. Yeah, I was just probably at my lowest confidence level anyway, and then it was a big knock. It isn't unusual to feel helpless in a situation like this. Writer and broadcaster Christina Patterson was made redundant after a 10 year career at the independent. In her book, The Art of Not Falling Apart, she examines how to cope when life goes wrong. I've lost people very close to me, and I've had breast cancer twice, and I'm afraid to say it sounds awful to say it, it felt like the worst thing that ever happened to me in my life. There was a moment when I talked to the editor, and he told me he wanted to freshen the pages up, which is not a phrase that is ever going to gladden your soul. And I literally felt as if I was falling off a cliff. And I walked out of that office, and I didn't stop shaking for two weeks. I lost eight pounds in four days. I mean normally I'm thrilled to lose a pound or two, but when you lose eight pounds in four days you think oh my god, something's really wrong here. It's a trauma, and that's how the body reacts in trauma. So I think you shouldn't be surprised that happens to you. Kimberly cancer s lucky that the Sainsbury's redundancy package provided her with lots of support. Mel Barclay is head of career transition at LHH Penner. She helped Kimberly when she was at her lowest. She was feeling very vulnerable, and I think she was unaware of what the job market held for her personally. So she came to us for programme support where she had coaching, one to one coaching with a career transition consultant. She joined in workshops and virtual classrooms and general networking events to build her confidence, and through that she then decided to go down the self employment route, and set up her own business. Feel free to take notes. They were so useful. You could choose what courses and what sessions you wanted to attend, so I did lots on setting up your own business, things about social media, how to do a website, how to be on Facebook. Tax, that-- you know, quite practical things. And also things about building confidence, again. Because it really, really suffered. I was also offered counselling which I'm very glad that I took up. I wasn't going to, but I thought it was extremely useful, and really helped me change my mindset about coming out of redundancy positively rather than feeling very negative about it. There is something amazing about talking to someone who is very clever at the end of the phone, and always has an answer for what you've got to say. I could have seen someone face to face, but I quite liked the fact that he didn't see me. My first session I pretty much spent in floods of tears. It was just very, very cathartic, and very, very useful. You kind of go through this arc of emotions. Why was it me? And it's anger, then you're upset. And it just helped me to talk to somebody about it, and that it's not me, it's just a massive business, and they have to do this. And there are brighter things on the other side. The first thing you'll need to do is to kind of get a grip, and get some support. And make sure that you don't allow yourself to feel crushed, because if you're wandering around looking absolutely miserable, nobody's going to think, I know exactly the person I need to help me with my project, or a job, or whatever. It's going to be that I'm really miserable person who looks as though they're about to slit their wrists. You need to be kind of as energetic and positive as you can be in the circumstances, while also acknowledge that you are going to be feeling pretty awful. There's a lot of fear around age discrimination, and a lot of people coming in who are sort of perhaps not that far off what they anticipated to be retirement feel quite so fatalistic about their chances in the job market. But what we will do is we'll try and focus on their strengths. As a result of being in an organisation for 25 years, you've acquired a huge amount of skill and experience which another organisation would like to have. And they will find you a role for you, because a younger person hasn't got that. Redundancy can also leave you feeling like you've lost part of your identity. It is like the worst breakup ever, because it's been part of your life. All my friends know me as working at Sainsbury's. It's where I met my husband. So yeah, just suddenly to be without that huge chunk in your life was really sad. But it can present an opportunity to reinvent yourself. Did you know what you want to do when you were about to leave? I was going to set off on my own. And so those lost 12 weeks, even though I was still working, was sort of prepping for going out there into the big wide world. At Sainsbury's I used to run any wine events, wine tastings, write copy for magazines, and on the backs of the wine labels. I do similar things now for other companies. I had managed to line up a job while I was still at Sainsbury's, and I started work on that the following week after I left Sainsbury's. Kimberly received a generous redundancy package, which she could have lived off for a year while she worked out what to do next. But she didn't want to touch her lump sum, so she didn't waste any time. Lots of people hurry to get a similar role to the one they had before. If you can financially take time out, it could be worth considering your options. Yeah? Wherever possible we encourage people to take some time out between leaving a role and starting something else, mainly because it helps them to sort of settle any feelings of resentment or anxiety they've had. And most people just need time out to sort of recharge the batteries. It is a very emotional process, and most people really need a bit of restorative time to be at their best for the next role. As much as it's important for people to get another job, particularly to pay their mortgage and to keep their families together, we also think it is an opportunity for them to explore things. Because if they don't, and they don't actually satisfy that particular career itch, they may regret just jumping into another role too quickly, and potentially be at risk of trying to find something else again in a short period of time. And if you take that extra time out, it can be a chance to truly reinvent your working life. I was very clear. I didn't want to get another job job. You know, I wasn't interested in climbing some corporate ladder. I wanted to piece together a portfolio of different things. A public service strand, which is unpaid. I have a creative strand, which is book writing. I have a commercial strand, which is consultancy. And I think it's almost a kind of millennial approach. How can I piece together a work life that for me ticks the different boxes of a bit of money here, a bit of status there, a bit of creative satisfaction there, a bit of public service there. And everybody will have their own response to that. And for some it will be a different job. It might be retraining for a new career, or it might be putting together a package. Larva coming out. Redundancy you can also present an opportunity to redefine your work life balance. Kimberly works from home now, and sees much more of her husband and children. She doesn't miss waking up at 5 AM every morning, or the long commutes into London. My alarm goes off at 7:00, so it's quite nice to have a lie in, and get the kids up, and able to spend time with them, give them breakfast. So much more of a nice sort of family morning. And take them to kid-- to school and nursery, and come back and start work. What are you doing, you monkey. They love it. They love having mommy around more. In the past they've not known who's going to be there when they wake up. Now it's always me, so they just love it. Well, my husband works from home as well, but pretty much we don't see each other during the day. But it's nice because he go to spend more time with the kids now. He's having loads more family time. Kitchen table. You've done good. Yes. Say it. I used the word proud, but I mean had I gone through that same thing, I know that I would have probably kind of inside freaked. What the hell am I going to do? I'd have gone out, probably gone to another big company, look at the security of that role, I think, is incredibly brave. He's never said anything like that to me before. It's like Mister and Missus. I'm glad I was a service. Kimberly loved her old job, and was devastated at first, but she advises anyone in a similar situation to try to stay calm. Take as much advice as you can from your friends and family, anyone in the same business that you're working in, and just take the time to work out what's going to be best for you. Take a leap. Take a leap of faith if you want to go alone, because it is extremely rewarding. But obviously do your research first. I love the job itself, I know, I really, really used to enjoy going into work. I enjoy spending time with my colleagues. But I say my life is so much better now that I don't miss it. So if you've just been made redundant, you feel like your life has been turned upside down, and you don't know what to do next, consider the following. Take professional advice, whether it's counselling or career coaching, it'll help focus your mind. Try to stay positive. You may feel like you're falling apart, but that isn't an image you want to present the rest of the world when you're networking. Take time to consider your options. If you rush into something, you may live to regret it. And don't panic. You might be in a state of shock, but things will get better. And who knows, redundancy may be the catalyst you need to build a better career.