Navigating the emotional landscape of redundancy
As I sat down at my desk on a sunny Tuesday morning, little did I know that my life was about to change drastically. At first, it seemed like an ordinary day on the bustling trading floor, but when the HR manager and our department head summoned us for a private meeting, my gut told me that something was wrong. And there it was – our team was no longer required in the bank. The room seemed to blur and a whirlwind of emotions – shock, disbelief, fear, and a hint of anger – rushed through me as I packed up my desk in the allotted 30 minutes before we were unceremoniously relieved of our bank IDs and shown the door.
Redundancy carries an air of uncertainty and insecurity, leaving one adrift in a sea of emotions. For many, it marks the end of an era, triggering a grieving process akin to bereavement. There is no right or wrong way to feel during this period. Allowing yourself to go through these emotions can be cathartic and prevent later complications.
All I can remember from those early weeks is a sense of bewilderment and confusion, asking “Why me/us?” again and again. I felt a need to repeat the story to anyone who would listen, as if it would somehow lead to another outcome, or perhaps provide me with a new perspective. I sought solace in spending time with former teammates and friends, seeking support outside the financial industry. However, facing life without my daily routine was challenging. Beyond the loss of my job and income, I struggled to find a new purpose in my daily life. The familiar alarm at 6:30 am, the morning commute, and the structure of work were suddenly gone, leaving me feeling adrift and unsure.
Despite knowing that the redundancy was due to larger organisational decisions and not a personal failing, I could not help questioning my value and self-esteem. Was there anything I could have done to avoid this? I kept comparing myself to my colleagues in New York who still had jobs, exacerbating my feelings of insecurity – the New York team was shut down six weeks later.
As humans, we seek explanations and reasons for the events that happen to us, and when faced with an unexpected and significant change like redundancy, we try to make sense of it. Moreover, we often tie our self-esteem to our professional accomplishments, so when that is taken away, it can shake our core beliefs about ourselves. I struggled to see my own worth beyond my job title, and I felt adrift and unsure of my purpose.
However, with time, I came to accept the situation and see the redundancy as an opportunity for growth. I realised that the sector I was working in was too unstable –this was my second team redundancy – and I needed to cast my net wider. I spend some time clarifying my values, strengths, and passions, to identify new career opportunities aligned with my true aspirations.
How to empower yourself and navigate redundancy
So how can you empower yourself and navigate the redundancy transition period more effectively, regain your confidence, and embrace new opportunities with a sense of purpose and resilience? Here is what I learned.
Nurture yourself in the early weeks/months after redundancy
Avoid self-blame and communicate your emotional state to garner support from others. While periods of rest are essential, seclusion and digital dependency should be avoided. Cultivate activities that uplift the spirit and a sense of well-being, such as building a new routine, engaging in exercise, fostering friendships, or walking the dog.
It is natural to feel a sense of urgency, but rushing into any job offer can lead to compromises and desperation during interviews. Approach the job market with discernment and pursue opportunities that resonate deeply, igniting excitement and aligning with your passions.
Remain open to opportunities to switch sectors
Recognise your inherent strengths and skill set and consider how your expertise can flourish in diverse landscapes. Throughout the journey, the guidance from experienced mentors and a coach can prove invaluable. They can help you explore alternative career paths or transform hobbies into entrepreneurial pursuits.
Celebrate each minor victory
Be that a good reference, commendations on skills or connections with potential mentors. These accomplishments shape a positive mindset, fostering confidence and fortitude.
Focus on new opportunities
Our narrative and use of language are critical in the job search. Do not dwell on the story of your unemployment but focus instead on new opportunities. The same applies to the use of language which reflects our attitude, confidence, and professionalism. So be yourself and use language that showcases your skills, passions, and ability to be an asset to the organisation.
There is no doubt that redundancy is a challenging experience that can leave you feeling adrift and questioning your worth. However, by nurturing yourself, staying open to new opportunities, and embracing a positive mindset, it can become a catalyst for growth and reinvention. With resilience and determination, you can move forward, embracing change and seizing new and fulfilling opportunities in unexpected places.