Redundancy…the end or the beginning?

At some point in your life you will either experience redundancy first hand or know someone who has. It is a fact of life that companies restructure, change direction or fail financially. But what of the employees? What happens to them? For many this can feel like the end and it can be hard to contemplate what happens next. For those who have come across Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s change curve you may remember the emotional responses that people experience when faced with a sudden change in their personal or professional lives. Of course Elizabeth Kubler-Ross was researching the 5 stages of grief that people experience when dealing with loss. First the shock and disbelief, then the anger and frustration, next the depression, the experimenting and finally the acceptance and integration.

Facing redundancy is a type of loss. There you are, going to work every day to give it all you can and provide a standard of living for you and/or your family then boom! Out of the blue it all changes. Shock and disbelief, the denial that it’s not really happening, then the realisation that with no job, there is no income; how do you pay bills? What of your sense of worth? How valued do you feel now? Many feel discarded and get ‘stuck’ in the depression stage – not sure what to do next, or stunned thinking how they will cope…….

Redundancy doesn’t have to be the end, in fact quite the opposite. It can be a chance to start anew. What have you always wanted to do but never got the chance? What new opportunities lay in store? I remember doing a workshop for a group of employees that were facing this situation. They were a mixture of ages and different levels of authority, but what they had in common was that they were all going to be made redundant. My team was brought in to provide some support for them. There was a real sense of gloom when I arrived. Most were in a state of shock or anger; not many of them had passed the depression stage. (It is worth noting at this point, that the senior leader appeared to be in acceptance and was more concerned for his staff.) There was anger, resentment, a lot of “why us?” being asked. Part of what I do as a coach is try to move people out of that stage and help them to focus on their future, what goals can they now set? What opportunities are out there for them? During the workshop, people started to explore ideas, one lady was going to start a gardening business, another was going to travel…all sorts of creativity was starting to emerge. People were starting to move to the next stage – experimentation. Remember, ‘acceptance’ doesn’t always mean liking the situation, just accepting that that is the situation and moving on.

One interesting thing was that during this time, the manager who thought he had accepted the situation, realised he was actually still in denial. He had been so caught up in the welfare of his team that he hadn’t thought about how he really felt about it. This gave him the prompt to start to think about what it meant for him and start to focus on what he would do now.

This may resonate with some of you, or someone you know. If it does then find someone who can help you move forward. Redundancy doesn’t have to be the end…… can be the beginning of the rest of your life……