The coronavirus pandemic has put huge financial pressures on our workforce and many organisations are facing very difficult decisions related to staffing. Whether expected or sudden, redundancy can cause huge uncertainty, stress and anxiety, and can make existing mental health problems worse. We’ve put together some ways to look after your mental health during the redundancy process.
How to deal with redundancy:
1. Don’t panic
It’s common for people to either rush into a flurry of activity, try to keep keeping and make a list of all of the things you need to arrange in the months ahead. Legal and financial arrangements, outplacement support, talking to your contacts, sharing your new contact details and so on.
2. Know your rights
Obtain a copy of the in-house redundancy policy if there is one and check out your contract for exit terms. If you are made redundant, it’s important to know your rights. You can only be chosen for redundancy fairly — never based on your age, gender, disability or mental health status, if this is something you have disclosed with your employer.
If you’re legally classed as an employee and have over two years’ service, you have rights related to redundancy and unfair dismissal. Check out ACAS’ information on redundancy and rights.
3. Plan your Finances
If you are made redundant, your finances are probably one of the first practical things you’ll be thinking about, and we know money can be a huge source of stress and worry. Money and mental health are often linked. When we’re struggling with our mental health it can be hard to manage our finances, and if we’re worried about money it can make our mental health worse.
Creating a budget can be a good first step if you’re not sure where to start – the Money Advice Service can help with this. Some people may find it helpful to choose a regular time each week to look at bills and other spending to stop things piling up, or only withdrawing the amount of money you intend to spend each week.
For more information on money and mental health, and a list of organisations who can help, visit our Money and Mental Health pages.
4. Do your research
Don’t rush into applying for any or every job that comes up regardless of its suitability. Take stock of what you have to offer, what you want to do, and research what employers are actually looking for. The job market has changed post-lockdown and while some sectors may still be struggling there will be others which are more robust and in growth mode e.g. remote technology services companies.
Read the business pages and talk to your contacts to assess where the areas of demand are likely to be and for career advice about what you can do to appeal to those employers most likely to be hiring.
5. Brush up your employability
Enhance your competitiveness in the job market by undertaking some continuous professional development. Fortunately, there is a huge range of online courses like distance MBA’s or vocational qualifications that you can undertake alongside thousands of different webinars, virtual conferences and other CPD activities, all of which you can participate in from home and often at little or sometimes no cost. Keeping yourself focused and setting yourself challenges can help to improve your self-esteem for when the right role comes up. FutureLearn and OpenLearn have free online courses you could try.
6. Think Positive
This is undoubtedly a difficult and unsettling time for everyone. However, redundancy does give you the opportunity to think about what you really want for the future. It also gives you the space to explore a wide range of opportunities that you otherwise may have been too busy to consider.It can be an extremely positive catalyst for making much needed changes in your working life. The best years of your working life may be yet to come!
7. Get support
This period of redundancy might be the right time to call in a few favours from contacts you have interacted with throughout your career. That also includes reaching out to recruitment consultants who have an extensive network and can be a great help in your job search.
Don’t be abrupt and simply call a contact out of the blue to ask if they have any vacancies at their workplace. It could make people a bit defensive or even a little awkward, especially if you haven’t spoken for some time. Ease in with general niceties and then mention how you’re out of work and on the market. Even if the company they work for can’t help, they may be aware of something else which you could pursue.