Redundancy – Coping and thriving with the change

Redundancy – Coping and thriving with the change

by John Davies, Director at Chorus Executive


It feels personal… but it’s not.

Intellectually you know that redundancies are a company’s way to survive a harsh economic climate, market instability or increasingly competitive industry conditions. It is a strategic business decision that unfortunately happens to involve employees.

You understand this completely; however this knowledge does not stop the feelings of offence, hurt and anxiety that naturally get bundled up as part of your redundancy package.

What those feelings come down to however, is a resistance to change.  People will feel varying degrees of the abovementioned emotions according to how they cope with change.  If you’ve dedicated your life to one company and have paid little attention to your personal life, your emotional response to redundancy will be far more extreme compared to someone who has varied their career and balanced their work life with their personal life.

Similarly, if your identity is wrapped up in what you do, rather than who you are, the void redundancy creates will be all the more difficult to deal with.

So how do you cope with such a drastic change?

There are conflicting schools of thought when it comes to dealing with redundancy.  Some experts recommend hitting the ground running – they advise that the day after you get the news, you should be starting the process of job hunting.  They warn that the time between being made redundant and starting your job search will allow you to lapse into depression, demotivation and negativity.

In contrast, other experts on this topic recommend taking a short amount of time to come to terms with the situation. They argue that if you jump straight into a job search with the feelings of negativity associated with redundancy, the outcome will not be a positive one.  You may be less likely to succeed in the interview process because of any unresolved feelings of resentment or anxiety that may surface.  Out of desperation to resume a normal working life, you might be inclined to apply for jobs that do not interest you and do not benefit your career or development.  This knee-jerk reaction only further entrenches you in career instability.

Redundancy can often be a great opportunity to reassess your career.  Perhaps, with a little honest soul searching, you’ll find that you had stagnated in your previous role and this restructure has pushed you to move forward in your career; to challenge yourself.

Redundancy is something that every employee can potentially face, but the trick is to accept this reality and take control of your situation in the following ways:

  • Ensure your work life is balanced with a thriving personal life so that you are not defined by your job.
  • Constantly refresh your skillset.  The more you develop and grow your knowledge, the more competitive you are in the market.  This not only makes you less likely to face redundancy, but if you were made redundant, you would be market-ready and have the competitive advantage.
  • Think about a contingency plan, no matter where you are in your career. They say the people at the top have the longest way to fall.  This is not to say that you should be living in constant fear and expectation of redundancy. Rather, you should always have an understanding of what your strengths are, where your skills can be utilised and the alternative industries you could potentially work in.
  • Finally, build your networks continuously so that if you do face redundancy, you have a vast range of connections that may lead you to your next role.

Change is something most people have trouble accepting.  The best way to cope with change is to be prepared for anything.  Ironically, the advice I have outlined above works just as well in preparing for a promotion as it does facing redundancy. What it comes down to is having a smart personal development strategy, a career plan and an understanding of the value you bring to an organisation.

John Davies is a Director at Chorus Executive – Experts in the recruitment and development of sales, marketing and communications talent.


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