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Redundancies can be very stressful and can mean a significant life change. They can affect our self-confidence and challenge our sense of purpose and identity that work provides. It’s common to experience feelings of disbelief, denial, anger, loss of confidence and sadness in the face of a loss which is usually outside of our control. Some of us may think ‘why me?’, others may be more relieved and feel excited to start something new.
We all react differently in times of change and uncertainty and it is completely normal to feel worried, sad or stressed as a result, especially if it comes as a surprise. The purpose of this guide is to give you some practical advice for managing these feelings and preventing them from impacting your mental well-being, allowing you to focus positively on the road ahead.
Please note that while this guide is aimed at people who have recently been made redundant, the tips in this guide can be applied to other situations where a loss or significant change has occurred.
How to cope with anxiety, worries and stress during significant life changes
Change inevitably creates uncertainty. When things stay the same we feel comfortable knowing what to expect on a day to day basis. When something shifts, even our sense of who we are can go through some odd and potentially uncomfortable alterations. Try not to judge yourself.
It’s okay – and perfectly normal – to be nervous about change. It’s also normal to have a hard time managing the transition. No matter how awkwardly or uncomfortable you might feel though, it’s important to be kind to yourself and share your feelings with others. Social support is a great way to deal with uncertainty as it allows you to proactively troubleshoot problems and consider different approaches.
Whilst this redundancy may have come as a shock to you, try to embrace the experience and consider this transition as an opportunity to build internal psychological, emotional, and intellectual “muscle” that will help you with the next change.
Take care of yourself
Reframe the situation: What can you change and what is out of your control? Could this redundancy actually help you to achieve new goals and help you to grow? Is there something you always wanted to change or do? You may not have control over losing your job, but you are able to control how you deal with that loss and move forward.
Reframe your position: You may try not to think “I was made redundant”, but rather “My position was made redundant”. This may help you see that this was not a personal critique of your skills but rather a necessary business decision. This can help to protect your self-esteem.
Stay connected and share your feelings: Friends, family and colleagues make a great support network. It can sometimes feel hard to reach out for support, but speaking with your loved ones can be a crucial part of the redundancy process. It’s important to be as open and honest with your partner or close support networks as early on as you can. Together, you can tackle any financial or emotional worries; you don’t have to face these alone. Remember that you have nothing to be ashamed of; redundancy can happen to anyone, at any time.
Remember, the way we think affects how we feel and act: Awareness helps us notice signs of stress or anxiety earlier and helps us deal with them better.
- Relaxation exercises can tackle those fight, flight or freeze symptoms we might be feeling in stressful situations by helping us to slow down our heart rate and calm our mind. Mediation can help us to build awareness of how worrying thoughts capture our attention and how to let go of them. Meditation is a skill that requires practice and might not be for everyone but is worth trying.
- Other ways you can be mindful might include going for a walk, doing yoga, reading, or anything else that helps to relax and distract your mind.
Organise your time: Make lists, plans and daily calendars. Time management is key to helping you feel in control and able to handle the pressure.
Structure and routine: Try to keep a structure or schedule in your day. Creating a routine enables you to set clear boundaries. For example, stick to a similar sleep schedule, get up at the same time as you would do for work, and be strict with yourself about when you look for new job opportunities and when you do something you enjoy. A clear structure during the day will help you to stay well and switch off each day.
Set yourself small manageable goals and make sure to take the time to appreciate achieving even just the small daily goals that you set for yourself
Be active: Exercise won’t make stress disappear, but it may clear your thoughts which helps when dealing with stress.
Allocate a worry budget
Sometimes, worrying can feel hard to control. Rather than trying to stop it altogether, one technique is to allocate yourself a ‘worry budget’ where you can dedicate time to think about your worries. Dealing with worries in this way can help to challenge hypothetical concerns, negative emotions and to put things into perspective, as well as make you feel more confident and productive.
- Create a list of worries as and when they come into your head.
- Allocate yourself no more than 30 minutes per day at a specified time to work through your worry list (do this somewhere that you won’t be disturbed and that you don’t associate with sleep or relaxation).
- When the time comes, work through your worry list one by one and sort it into things you can do something about now and things you might have to deal with at a later date.
- Think about how you might solve some of these worries and make a plan to tackle them.
- For hypothetical worries (e.g. “what if I don’t get another job”) ask yourself “then what?” and think about what you would do and how you would manage it or prevent it from happening (e.g. “I will apply for one job a day and reach out to my networks”).
This might feel a bit strange in the beginning, but over time this process will become automatic as you learn cognitive skills for proactively managing worries, rather than letting them overwhelm you.
Reassess your personal goals and development
While we often struggle to see redundancy as a ‘good thing’, it can present the opportunity to help you take stock of your skills, talent, and experiences. Is there anything you want to change in your career? Have your goals remained the same or is now the chance to start on a new journey?
Think about your options and identify where your passions are. If you aren’t sure what your passions are, what you want to do next, or what your long-term goals are you could speak to friends, family or old colleagues. Sometimes speaking about it and reflecting with others helps us to move forward.
Start planning, networking and prepping your CV
Start with updating your CV and professional/social media accounts (e.g. LinkedIn). Take the time to consider all of the skills, tasks and achievements from your last role and how you can take these forward into a new position. Your CV should outline your goals, experience, accomplishments and personality.
Also, have a clear social media presence, be proactive on groups, and have an active, engaged account on websites like LinkedIn, professional Facebook groups, and Twitter. Share your expertise and industry knowledge; the more you put yourself out there, the more you can start raising your profile and increase the chance to be noticed by future employers.
Manage financial pressure
Think about your budget. Are there areas you can cut back on? Could you save money by switching bill providers, changing tariffs on your mobile or broadband, or switching to cashback sites when shopping online? Making several small changes may not seem like much, but together they can go a long way.
Remember to check if there are any benefits or grants you may be entitled to whilst looking for a new job. Thoughtfully managing your finances can be key to reducing feelings of stress and worry. Find out more about free money advice at Money Advice Service.
How can I support someone who has been made redundant?
Sometimes, when it comes to helping others we can feel a little lost, especially when it comes to mental health and emotional well-being. Remember that simply being there for someone can make all the difference. If you are supporting someone through a redundancy, some helpful things you can do are:
- Listen to how they’re feeling. Having a chance to talk openly could help someone to feel calmer and more able to move forward.
- Ask open questions (e.g. “how do you feel”) and actively listen.
- Avoid telling them how they should feel (e.g. “you shouldn’t be this stressed”) or invalidating their feelings (e.g. “you don’t need to be this upset”) as this can reinforce low self-esteem.
- Reassure them that stressful situations can pass and support them in the next steps. However, try to prevent phrases like ‘it could be worse’ … ‘it happens to a lot of people’… ‘ou never liked that job anyway’. All this may be true. But the risk can be that the person is not in an emotional position to see this.
- Help them to identify the triggers of their stress.
- Do not be surprised if the individual is angry. This anger may not just be directed towards the job loss but could be about anything. Irritability can be common during this transitional period.
- Help them to learn and practise relaxation techniques.
- Support them to seek professional help. Make sure the individual has the contact telephone number of someone who will listen if they are distressed, for example 24 hour crisis centres such as the Samaritans.
Thrive supports more than three million people globally with its mental well-being platform, including tools to help deal with anxiety and stress as well as screening for mental health conditions, making prevention part of general well-being for all.
Before we start, we want to highlight that this is a truly unusual, unprecedented and difficult time. There are no blueprints for this and there is no right or wrong when it comes to our feelings.
If you’ve been on a bit of a rollercoaster with your emotions, we are right there with you. Here at Life Coach Directory, we’re checking in with each other regularly; one day there may be tears and worry, another day there are laughs and jubilation.
Suffice to say, if you’re feeling overwhelmed right now, that’s OK. If you need to spend any extra time you have resting, that’s OK.
Please do what you need to do right now, whether that’s binge-watching Netflix, or making a new business plan. Here we want to shine a light on some different ways you can make the most of any extra time you have right now, depending on your circumstances.
“I’m overwhelmed and don’t know what to do.”
If the idea of doing anything right now feels too much, you’re not alone. Being overwhelmed can often make us feel paralysed. To start taking gentle steps out of overwhelm, try the following ideas.
Make a list of your worries. For each one ask yourself ‘what can I do about it?’ and then, ‘what can’t I do about it?’. For those you can do something about, make a plan. For those you can’t? Try to breathe and let it go.
Start a mindfulness practice. This could be meditation (the Headspace app has a great section on weathering the storm), mindful movement (we love Yoga with Adriene) or journaling (the positive planner is a great one to get started with).
Find some escapism. Lose yourself in film and TV, get through your to-be-read pile, start playing a video game. Let yourself be distracted for a while and up your self-care.
“I had to cancel all my upcoming social events and feel at a loose end.”
Whether you’ve had to cancel holiday plans or your usual coffee and catch-up with a friend, a lot of us are finding ourselves at loose ends right now. With no social plans on the horizon, it’s time to get creative.
Plan some remote events. Take your social life online using video calls and set up some get-togethers without actually getting together. Try running a pub quiz with friends on FaceTime, play with the House Party app or set up a virtual coffee morning meet-up with family.
Learn something new. Take this opportunity for a little personal development. Always wanted to learn another language? Download the Duolingo app and get started today. Always fancied knitting, but never had the time before? Order some supplies, watch YouTube tutorials and see what you can create.
Help others. If you have the capacity to do so, see if there is anything you can do to help those more vulnerable. This could be offering to pick up food for your elderly neighbour or donating to a local food bank.
“I can’t continue running my business as it was and need to pivot.”
If your business has been affected by the pandemic, now may be the time for you to consider ways you can adjust and pivot to keep things going during this tricky time. This may feel like a big task, but it offers you an opportunity to think outside the box.
Take stock and ask yourself what’s going well. When we run a business, it’s easy to get stuck in the day-to-day running of it. While not ideal, this may be a good time for you to review your business and think big-picture about the future.
What can you take online? A lot of businesses are pivoting to offer their services/products online so people can continue to access them. Think about your business and which elements you could move online. For example, if you usually do in-person workshops, could you host them online for now?
What new online/remote services can you create right now? As well as taking existing products/services online, now is a great time to consider new offerings. Think about what your customers need right now and consider what you could offer to fulfil that need.
“I’ve been made redundant and need to think about a new career direction.”
This is sadly the reality for many right now. If you’ve been made redundant, allow yourself the space and time you need to grieve. When you’re ready, start doing the following to get yourself back out there.
Reframe your challenge as an opportunity. Yes, this may come across as slightly annoying advice at first, but trying to shift into a positive mindset will do wonders for your productivity. Try to see this as an opportunity to think about the direction you’re heading in and what changes you’d like to make to get there.
Reach out to those in the industry you want to go in. Whether it’s the same industry you were in or a brand new one, try to speak to those in it. Reach out to old contacts or search for new ones. Book in some video calls and see what contacts you can make to move forward.
Consider how you can make your CV stand out. Spend some time thinking about what you can do now to make you even more hireable in the future. Is there anything extra you could be doing while looking for work that would reflect well on your CV, such as writing for publications, starting your own blog or doing some voluntary work? Now is also a great time to give your LinkedIn profile some love.
We hope these pointers can give you some options and help you get through this tricky time. If you’re feeling in need of some support and are considering coaching, remember lots of our coaches offer remote support. Use our online and telephone search to find someone you resonate with.
Facing redundancy can be an emotional, difficult time. Not knowing what the future holds can lead to more worries and uncertainty. With the right support and planning, you can start making your move towards a successful next step in your career.
Whether you knew it may be coming or the news was a complete shock, being made redundant can feel like you’ve had the rug pulled out from under you. You’re probably going through a barrage of emotions: shock, denial, anger, worry, anxiety, uncertainty. Losing your job can impact your sense of well-being, negatively affect your mental health, relationships and confidence. It’s important to remember: you will get through this.
What is redundancy, and why are people made redundant?
Redundancy can happen for a number of reasons. Your employer may be looking to cut costs, new technology may mean your role isn’t needed anymore, your workplace may be relocating to a new, un-commutable location, or they may be closing altogether. Whatever the reasons, you have legal rights.
Your employer has a set of requirements they are legally required to follow before they can even begin the process. It’s your employer’s responsibility clearly lay out their grounds to make you redundant. During the process, they will have to give you certain information about why the redundancy is occurring, how many people will be affected, which areas of the business it will impact, when redundancies will happen, and how your redundancy payment will be calculated. For the most up to date information on your legal rights, redundancy pay, notice and consultation periods, the official Gov website is the most reliable place to visit.
10 steps to help you deal with redundancy
We share 10 simple steps to help you cope with the redundancy process and start the next step in your career.
1. Make sure you understand your legal rights
Understanding your legal rights and knowing what to expect can have a calming effect and help you feel in control. It’s important to know how much redundancy pay you will get, how long your notice period is, and if you’re able to leave sooner to start a new position. Once you have the basic details, you can start thinking more clearly, regain your balance, and face the next steps.
The Money Advice Service has some great advice on understanding your legal rights when facing redundancy. The official Gov.uk website also has everything you need to know about redundancy, along with a simple tool to help you calculate your statutory redundancy pay. Based on your age, weekly pay, and how long you’ve been working in your current job, as long as you have been with your current employer for at least two years, you’re entitled to statutory redundancy.
As well as looking at external sources for information and guidance, remember to check your contract, speak with someone at HR, and chat with your union representative to discuss your specific entitlements.
2. Manage your money
Once you know what you’re entitled to (and when you’ll be paid), it’s worth working out a budget. Are there any areas you can cut back on? Could you save money by switching bill providers, changing tariffs on your mobile or broadband, or switching to cashback sites when shopping online? Making several small changes may not seem like much, but together they can go a long way. By addressing these areas early on, you can minimise how far your redundancy pay may need to stretch.
Remember to check if there are any benefits or grants you may be entitled to whilst looking for a new job. Depending on which part of the country you live in, the main benefit you may qualify for is typically Jobseeker’s Allowance, Universal Credit, or an Employment and Support Allowance.. You may also be entitled to other benefits such as tax credit or help with housing costs. National charity Turn2Us offers more information on the benefits that are available, as well as an easy to use calculator to help you figure out what you may be entitled to.
Worried about credit card debt, loan payments or bills? Citizens Advice can be one of the best places to turn for guidance. It can also be worth contacting your provider directly to explain your situation, as they may be able to work with you to create a reduced payment plan. If you are worried about keeping up with mortgage or loan repayments, check to see if you are covered by any existing insurance policies.
Try to carefully budget any lump sum redundancy payment you may receive. It’s not something we like to think about, but there’s no guarantee as to how quickly you’ll be able to find a new position. Your location, industry, job market, and qualifications can all play a big factor; finding the right job can be as much about luck and timing as skill and experience. Thoughtfully managing your finances can be key to reducing feelings of stress and worry.
3. Try not to take it personally
A big part of the redundancy process can be understanding what’s happening and why. It can help to acknowledge that the decision isn’t personal – there’s a logical, commercially driven decision behind what is happening. Knowing what has lead to redundancies can help you to see that the decision wasn’t a personal one.
Losing your job can be extremely stressful, but you aren’t alone. According to the Office for National Statistics, three in every 1,000 employees were made redundant between November and January 2018-2019, while according to Statista, in 2019 around 106,000 people across the UK were made redundant. You may not have control over losing your job, but you are able to control how you deal with that loss and move forward.
4. Be open and honest
Speaking with your loved ones can be a crucial part of the redundancy process. It’s important to be as open and honest with your partner as early on as you can. Together, you can tackle any financial or emotional worries; you don’t have to face these alone.
Opening up to close friends and family can help. You have nothing to be ashamed of; redundancy can happen to anyone, at any time – it isn’t a reflection of your work ethic, the quality of your work, or you as a person. By opening up, loved ones can offer support and guidance through this tough time. If you don’t feel ready or able to talk things through yet, that’s ok too; it’s more important to focus on what makes you feel comfortable and works best for you.
5. Protect your energy
Once you’ve got your finances sorted, it’s time to figure out what comes next. Having the right mindset can be key in starting the next phase in your career. Approaching your options with a positive mindset can help increase your productivity, allow for more effective communication, boost your confidence in what you say (and how you say it), as well as allowing you to present the best possible version of yourself.
Practising regular mindfulness and meditation can be a simple way to help re-centre and re-focus your energy, as well as to examine and understand your motivations. Protecting your energy can also include examining how you frame what is happening in your life and how you can move forward towards new opportunities. By examining how you frame your redundancy, it can help you more positively view what has happened, and how you can learn from it.
We aren’t saying you have to be happy about what’s happening, but showing you are capable of moving on and letting go of any resentment can highlight a more positive attitude potential employers may be looking for.
6. Reassess your career (and life) goals
While we hesitate to say redundancy is a ‘good thing’, it can present the opportunity to help you take stock of your skills, talent, and experiences. Is there anything you want to change in your career? Have your goals remained the same, or is now the chance to start on a new journey? Changing jobs or career paths can provide the chance to readdress your work/life balance if your old role left you feeling exhausted, stressed, or on the path to burnout.
While discussing your option with friends and family can be helpful, talking things through with an impartial, outside person can be a big help in creating clearer goals and identifying what you want from your career (and life) as a whole.
If you aren’t sure where your passions lay, what you want to do next, or what your long-term goals are, working with a personal development coach can help. A coach may be able to help you set goals, track your achievements, and start recognising your progression. A career coach can help you in a number of different ways, from teaching you how to identify obstacles to improving your CV.
7. Set realistic parameters
Entering the job market can feel both liberating and terrifying. Although it can be tempting to open up your search to a wider range of opportunities, make sure to consider factors that affect your day-to-day satisfaction.
Keeping geographical location, economic factors, and creativity in mind can create a solid basis for your search. For example, it’s great to go back and retrain for a new career – but can you afford to do this without working at the same time? Maybe you’ve found the perfect career move, but have you considered the additional stress a longer commute may cause? Or perhaps you’ve found a well-paying role in the right area, but is going to challenge and engage you? It’s good to dream big and keep your options open, but make sure you factor in areas that may affect your well-being.
8. Start networking
It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know. If you are looking for a new position, making the most of your existing network and expanding on your contacts can be beneficial.
Using social media can be a simple way to network at any age. Have a clear social media presence, be proactive on groups, and have an active, engaged account on sites link LinkedIn, professional Facebook groups, even Twitter. Share your expertise and industry knowledge; the more you put yourself out there, the more you can start raising your profile and (hopefully) start getting noticed by the right people
9. Let the search begin
Searching for a new job can be daunting. To set yourself up for success, it’s important to make sure your CV is up to date. Take the time to consider all of the skills, tasks and achievements from your last role, and how you can take these forward into a new position. It’s not just about stuffing keywords into your CV in hopes you’ll be picked by online algorithms; your CV gives you the space to showcase your accomplishments, experience, and personality. It’s not just an overview of how your career has progressed and developed – it’s the opportunity to show how well rounded you are as a candidate.
While you’re at it, tailoring each cover letter to suit each role is key. Having templates can be handy, but it’s important to personalise each cover letter with details about the specific role you are applying for, what they are looking for, how you fit the criteria and why you’re interested in the role. Simple details like making sure you get the hiring manager’s name right can help create a good first impression. If you aren’t sure how to get started, Reed offers some great redundancy CV and cover letter templates, or check out these six tips to create a stand-out CV.
10. Look after your mental health and well-being
It can be tempting to spend every waking hour searching for new jobs, but putting that extra strain on yourself won’t help. By putting 110% into looking for a new role, you can neglect your well-being, become disheartened, and start making small but silly mistakes (like sending the wrong cover letter to the wrong company) that can damage your prospects. It’s important to take time to look after yourself, practice regular self-care, and spend quality time with your loved ones.
Alternative therapies can be a simple way to help you manage stress, mitigate some of the symptoms of ill mental health, and act as an outlet. If you are experiencing mild signs of depression, Mind recommends several alternative therapies that may be able to help.
Staying active can be another simple way to boost your mood and improve your overall sense of well-being. Try to eat regular, healthy meals, cut your caffeine and alcohol intake, and decrease how much junk food you eat; food can have a surprising effect on our mental health and wellness.
To discover more about redundancy coaching, what to expect, and to find a coach near you, visit our redundancy coaching page.