I want to share a conversation I had with a friend earlier this week. Let’s call her Dot:
Dot: “Susan! Help me re-do my resume. My company just laid off 20 people today so I need to look for a new job right away!”
Me: “Yes, but have you been let go?”
Dot: “No, but I might be!”
Me: “True, but what have you been told about your job”
Dot: “That it’s safe for now”Me: “So why are you fretting?”
Dot: “Because I might lose my job and I need one!”
Me: “Don’t jump off the sinking ship!”
I have supported four companies through their restructures, which resulted in the termination of employment from six to 500 people. I am always fascinated by the variety of people’s reactions to such adversity. Whilst it is understandable to be concerned about your future liv
elihood when it’s happening in your company, here are my three HR Hot Tips to help you not fret and to try and stay calm during what is a very stressful time:
1. Don’t jump off the sinking ship
Dot is still employed. Her basic terms and conditions have not changed – the organisation has. (Sure, her job might change as a result of these changes, but for the purpose of employment, she’s still going to get paid next week.) If Dot jumps off the sinking ship now out of fear of losing her job, she will forfeit the right to redundancy pay if her role was selected in the future. Redundancy pay can be pretty lucrative depending on your company’s redundancy policy and your length of service, and generally contains a pretty hefty tax-free portion (if it isn’t all tax-free). If Dot quits now to leave for another job, granted, she has a job, but she will miss out on this payment if she had have stayed and was made redundant at a later date. Stay, get your redundancy pay, and then worry about finding a new job when you actually need to.
2. Keep focused
Companies use various strategies to identify roles to make redundant and people to retrench. These strategies may be based on your role, department, your level (e.g. middle management), or even your last performance rating. If you are lucky enough to still be employed after the restructure, yes, it’s going to be a stressful time, but keep focused on the fact that you still have your job and your livelihood. Bear in mind that if you ask the question “Is my job secure?” your immediate manager may truly not know the answer to this question. So keep your head down, bum up, until you either a) get retrenched and receive your redundancy pay as per the above, or b) until nothing… because you’re still employed! Any changes to your role as a result of the restructure may actually work in your favour and you may even gain further responsibility or experience as a result.
Yes, we all have mortgages and other bills to pay; the loss of income is a very challenging and stressful situation to involuntarily be in; and our work ethic drives us to want to work. But when in your career have you ever not had to go to work? Enjoy the downtime before you are thrown back into the daily grind. Take a vacation, spend more time with your family or do something that you normally wouldn’t be able to during the day – because you work! You may not know what to do with yourself for the first little while as this is new and unfamiliar territory, but if you enjoy your break, you will wonder how you ever fit in a full-time job before you had all this free time.
It is important to note that your job could be at risk at any time. Nothing is ever guaranteed or permanent and whilst there are laws in our country to protect you from unfair dismissal and unlawful termination, your job is always at risk of being terminated. It’s unlikely, but it is possible.
I discuss restructures and how to handle them in my book 101 HR Hot Tips: Handy Secrets for Success in the Workplace. Purchase it here.
I want to know what you think. Leave a comment!
Are you encountering a similar experience that you need support with? See www.harlandhansen.com for more information about services I provide.