A redundancy is (almost) never fun.
Picture this. Young family. One partner settling into a new company, they’ve finally landed the dream job. One partner at home, taking time out of the workforce to look after the baby. They’ve just moved into their forever home, there’s room enough for a few more kids yet. Their dog is the snuggliest little guy you’ve had the pleasure of meeting.
Things were looking bright.
Until they weren’t.
Until that big, inefficient conglomerate they’ve decided to devote their life to decided it was time to trim the fat.
I’d love to say this is a purely hypothetical scenario but that’s exactly the situation a close friend of mine found themselves in earlier this year. And it’s not uncommon. This study found that Australia has a higher rate of staff redundancies than other countries as a result of regular corporate downsizing.
There’s no denying that, at the right life stage, a redundancy can be fantastic. A sizable payout can provide the freedom to change careers, welcome you comfortably into retirement, or allow you breathing space to find the next perfect role.
But for many, it can be debilitating.
So, whether you’ve been at your company for five years or five minutes, what can you do when you find yourself facing an unwanted redundancy?
I enlisted the help of my ever-industrious friend (who, spoiler alert, landed a great new role within the company’s new structure) to pull together a step-by-step guide on what to do when you’re facing a redundancy.
Step 0. Do the little things right.
This one predates a redundancy announcement and if you’re not already doing it, you might be on shaky ground. Get the basics right. Do the little things that makes someone’s day a little easier, and more pleasant. Be approachable. Anticipate where you can add value and go ahead and add it.
Step 1. Research your redundancy rights.
Find out what your rights are. If you’ve been at your company for less than 12 months, as my friend had, there may be no legal requirement for the company to provide a payout. Grim. But don’t stop there. Visit Fair Work to find out your entitlements. Speak with HR. Read your contract and your company’s redundancy policy. If you’re in luck, they’ll be more generous, and in any case, you’ll know where you stand and can start planning from there.
Step 2. Talk to the decision makers.
Don’t play this too politically. Chances are your manager understands this is a tough time and wants to help you through it. Be upfront with what you want, and with any concerns you have. If you can, get your manager’s manager into a room. Have a chat with them. Lay out where you’d like to end up, and how you can contribute meaningfully to the new structure.
Step 3. Don’t do it alone.
Make use of your support networks. Talk to your colleagues. Talk shop, sure, but also listen and support each other. Talk to your families and friends. Get your concerns off your chest. Putting it into words might help you organise your thoughts. If you need, speak to a healthcare professional, and make use of the counselling many companies have on offer.
Step 4. Upskill.
Need to spruce up the resume, or has it been a while since your last job interview? Take advantage of any professional development assistance your company is offering or, if in doubt, remember that Google is your friend. There’s literally an internet’s worth of free professional development info on the worldwide web.
Step 5. Keep doing your job.
This is a tough one but quite possibly the most important. Don’t let your output drop off. And, as much as possible, continue showing up with a positive, curious and can-do attitude. I bet your manager will be pretty appreciative knowing you can be trusted to continue delivering in the face of adversity. Bonus points for now having a perfect response to any future interview questions about resilience!
Step 6. Make a plan.
While the ideal outcome is to keep your job, or land a similarly awesome job with your current employer, that won’t always be the outcome. When the restructure is announced, jump on Seek and LinkedIn. Check what’s out there. Speak to a recruiter. You don’t need to start interviewing, but keep you ears open for opportunities.
Step 7. Move onward and upward.
Whatever the outcome, there’s going to be a lot of hard work waiting for you, but also a lot of opportunity. In my experience, it’s the companies that move at breakneck speeds that present the best opportunities to move and grow, fast. So while change is scary, lean into it a little. Challenge yourself to step up and use this as a platform to flourish.
Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? How did you manage? What are your top tips for working through a restructure?