Note from my boys saying they don't want to go to England!

Note from my boys saying they don’t want to go to England!

Back in early February, during a work trip to New Zealand, our team got the jaw droppingly shocking news that our funding had been cancelled and so we were all facing ‘potential redundnacy’ (HR technical term). Things were a bit shaky back on November but then picked up, so this was a total bolt out of the blue. I’m going to do a few posts about it. This one will be on the redundancy process, including my thoughts and feelings about that and some tips for anyone facing job loss. In some future posts I’m planning to discuss career planning and job hunting, and then one on the musings of an unemployed person. So without having a big old moan, in summary the process was handled pretty poorly. I did give constructive feedback to the Directors about this, so hopefully it’s better in future. It was without doubt the most stressful experience of my life. Sure, things like buying a house is stressful, and getting married is a whole world of planning, but this is a new level. Those things are pretty binary, you commit to doing them and get on with it. I wasn’t definitely going to be redundant. After almost two weeks of thinking I would be, I got offered a new job internally, but it was pretty different to my old one. So I could do that and stay, or accept redundancy – it was up to me. There were so many different decisions and internal politics and a massive range of possible outcomes from deportation to a few kinds of mediocre and happily ever after that at times it was overwhelming. A few things combined to make it horrible, notably:

  • The initial surprise, anger and sadness
  • The lack of information internally and satisfactory answers to questions
  • The delay in being offered a new internal role
  • The many possible outcomes (and how one decision could either go very well or very badly depending on too many unknown things)
  • The potential for deportation, which although it would make a good pub story in future, wasn’t very palatable
  • Me being a thinker (worrier) at the best of times, which meant I got a bit sleep deprived
  • Having my decision impact in Matt in a pretty big way
  • The whole rubbishness of it for the rest of my team who were awesome and
  • Being royally messed about on a couple of occasions

Anyway, in all we weren’t ready to come back to the UK after only a year. And although we would have got relocated back by my work, I’ll be coming back on my own terms when in ready, not when I’m forced! (So there!) So, early on we made the decision to fight to stay. It’s just how that panned out that was the uncertainty. Would Matt’s work sponsor him? (Yes). Would I find another job internally? (Yes). Could I get another job somewhere else that I wanted in a reasonably quick time? (Yes) Would I get a fair redundancy settlement? (I suppose). Should I just give up and have a baby? (No!) It all worked out OK for us, as you know.

Redundancy flowchart

Redundancy flowchart

 

So, from the other side, here’s some tips if you end up facing a redundancy process, in no particular order.

1. Be informed – know your rights and facts: In psychological profile terms I’m an ‘activist’. It made me feel better to do (useful) things rather than sitting about being miserable. So I spent a fair bit of time researching the law, employment rights, taxation on redundancy, new jobs, all that sort of thing. In the end I knew more about some things than the HR team! Plus, sometimes making cakes is the most useful thing you can do!

2. Talk to other people: I read some good websites about redundancy and a lot of them say often people try and sort everything out themselves, by themselves, without any help. This is a bad plan! I can see though if you’re the family breadwinner, maybe with some kids and want to keep your macho image it can be hard talking about your situation. But, the more people who know, the more likely you are to get some good advice, leads in new job, general motivational words of wisdom and whatever other support you need. It’s not you the company’s getting rid if, it’s your job so there’s no reason to feel like a failure.

3. Accept help: This is a crappy time, so take some help if you need it. It might be a pint or giant glass of wine and chat with a mate, a box of tissues, giant cake, talk about career options and contacts or even sleeping tablets! For me the main stress was about two weeks, and then things got better. Our team worked really well together when we did have work to do, and really pulled together throughout the redundancy process. So much so, work were quite surprised. I’m really grateful to and proud of my old team for how we all got through it.

4. Look at the opportunity: This sounds cheesy, but it is true. Losing your job is a good opportunity to take stock, evaluate and get stuck into something else. To quote the Manager of the Great Marigold Hotel ‘It’ll be all right in the end. And if it’s not all right, it’s not the end.’

5. Draw a giant flow chart if you need to! I ended up so confused I did indeed make a giant chart of all the options. It did help get my thinking straight and down on paper. I still had to make the decisions though.

6. Consider calculated risks: In the end my flow chart showed I could basically either play it safe for a mediocre outcome, or take a risk and get either deported or happily every after. It was a tough one, and I spent ages weighing it up. In the end, by the time I had to go down the redundancy path I was fairly happy we’d get a visa through Matt’s work and had a good solid lead on a new job. Obviously everyone’s circumstances are different. Good luck!

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