Redundancy – what to do in the first week
Your first response to a redundancy – what to do in the first week.
Whether you have known that the redundancy has been coming for some time or it’s more like a bolt out of the blue, those first few days of a redundancy can be confronting and overwhelming. In this article we talk about how to respond in first week of being given notice.
Acknowledge that this is a big event.
No matter how you feel about your job or your prospects for re-employment, a redundancy for most of us is a big event. It has implications on your financial security as well as your relationships, aspirations and personal identity. You will need time and space to process it. You may have mixed emotions, shock and grief of what is lost mixed with excitement and anxiety for what might be to come. You might find that your mood is quite changeable, have trouble focusing and concentration and find times when even the simplest things seem impossible.
Even if you know that the change will be good for you, you are likely to encounter bumps along the road. The upheaval and change can be daunting and tiring, so it’s important to cut yourself some slack.
Commit not to make major decisions in haste
The first week of learning of a redundancy is not time to make life changing decisions. It is not uncommon to feel like a small boat in a very big ocean in the middle of a storm. It can be tempting to rush in to make big decisions in an effort to feel in control of the situation, this is perfectly natural. But using our boat analogy, it’s time to stabilize the ship first, before we start to replot our course.
This is not the time to decide to move cities, to sell the house or start a law degree.
Big decisions may need to be made, but they probably don’t need to be made today. By taking a little bit of time to get your head around things you will find you have greater capacity to make good decisions, to think through all the possibilities and implications that you do in those first days of panic and action-reaction.
Tonight have a cry for tomorrow we get practical
Having taken a deep breath and decided not to make big decisions in a hasty way what should we do?
There are a few steps that can be taken in those first few days that may seem insignificant now, but can make a world of difference to you month’s down the track. So by all means have a glass of wine, a block of chocolate and a cry. This is not going to be the last box of tissues that you use on this. Tonight you don’t need to pretend to be brave, you don’t need to be optimistic, surrender yourself to a old fashioned wallow, it’s a much underrated process. No need to feel guilty, and it’s not going to be the last box of tissues that you consume, but the act of ‘crying it out’ can do wonders. You can surrender yourself to this indulgence guiltlessly, for tomorrow we are going to get practical.
Gather important contact details
One of the difficulties people encounter when leaving a job is the loss of information.
We become so reliant of work tools that they end up holding important personal information like the contact details for our friends and emails from our children’s school. Take a moment to take a copy of personal numbers saved in your work mobile phone, but also think about whether you have key personal information stored on work computers or the email system. Are you children’s school reports saved to the laptop? Or are the password resets for your iPhone linked to your work email account. If you have close friends at work do you have their personal contact details accessible at home? Think through the loss of access to personal information in advance of your final work day can make life a whole lot easier in the weeks to come.
Gather key employment documents
In the digital age it is rare to be given printed copies of pay slips, group certificates and company policies. Most of us are required to login to a payroll system to get our pay slips or to look on the work intranet to see the employment policies. But when you’ve finished up work your access to these systems ceases.
Take the opportunity to download paper copies of your recent pay slips so that you will be able to confirm annual leave balances, Long service leave entitlements and year-to-date earnings. Make sure you have a copy of your last PAYG group certificate if you haven’t yet completed last year’s tax return. It is also a good idea to have a copy of the company policy on redundancy, leave policies and equal opportunity in case you need to refer to them for your entitlements and responsibilities at a later date.
Finally make sure you have a copy of your employment contract. Many of us end up storing this at work, it gets signed and stays in the bottom desk drawer. Take a moment to make sure you have these so that if there is any dispute as to your employment contractual terms you have a copy to refer to.
Gather a work portfolio, key statistics & testimonials
Now there is a big caveat on this, you need to be mindful of company privacy and protection of data. Typically companies own the relationships with their suppliers and clients, they retain ownership of the intellectual property that you created you while in their employment. They are very keen on keeping that information private and secure, as it is their right and responsibility.
You may like to consider if there is a way to legally and ethically retain a sample of your work. Perhaps there are publicly available documents that feature a contribution by you. Perhaps have testimonials from clients that make reference to your professionalism. Perhaps you could retain your performance reviews to demonstrate your performance against targets and documenting your achievements in the role.
Even if you are unable to gather physical documentation, it is worth taking some notes for yourself. The simple act of noting down dates of projects that you worked on, initiatives that you implemented, company results that you contributed to will help down the track. It might seem unnecessary, particularly when it is so fresh in your mind, but memories fade and it will be worth have something to refer back to down the track. Ideally you want to do this while you are still in employment, that way you can use your diary and the email system to refresh your memory.
Get into the specifics of your separation
The next item is to understand as best as you can the nature of the separation from your employer and wherever possible to get it in writing.
You want to really understand things like what is the effective date that this takes place? Is there an option for redeployment to somewhere else in the company? If you are being retrenched, are there any conditions on that retrenchment?
Try to get a copy of the estimated payout if that’s applicable. Getting the information in writing is valuable because in times of stress it can be very easy to think you understand and remember but come back two days later and be completely confused. Having that information in hard copy can be very effective.
While you don’t necessarily need to make decisions about the financial implications of these things straightaway, having this information available is critical to good decision making.
Work out who needs to know
Next thing you want to look at, is who you are going to tell. It’s not healthy to keep it to yourself, but neither do you need to announce it to the world straight away. Make a small list of the people you would like to know, focus on those who will give you the support and reassurance you need in this first week.
Most people keep the first week fairly low key. You probably don’t want to deal with a million people phoning you to ask how you are coping and what you are going to do next. All those well-meaning people of the periphery of your life can take a back seat for a while. Over the coming weeks you will likely open up and feel more comfortable discussing it with a wider circle, but for now you don’t need their input.
Get organized with an exercise book & a folder
Time to get organized. Grab an exercise book for your notes and use a folder to collate all the documents you ‘ve been collecting. By keeping this stuff together you will feel a little more in control and as the weeks go by you’ll know where to go for the information as you need to refer back to it. If you have a lot of digital files to keep then make sure you have a dedicated folder on your computer so you can remember where you saved things.
List your most immediate tasks
In your exercise book create a short To-Do list of the most urgent items. This is really about what you’re planning to do and what you need to do in the next 3 to 5 days. It is easy to get overwhelmed with all the things you need to do, your very short list helps you stay focused on the jobs right in front of you. These are items that can move off this list pretty quickly and be replaced by lots of others.
Brain dump the longer list of To-Dos, should dos & could dos
During times of particular emotional upheaval it can be very overwhelming. You know there are so many things you need to do and not all of them can be done now. You may not have the time to do them now, you may not have all the information to make that decision or they may be contingent on completing other tasks. The mental weight of retaining these in your head can be quite significant.
The act of writing them down allows you to relax and focus, knowing that the item will not be forgotten. Updating your CV, applying or Centrelink, extending a loan may all be important items and you will come to them. Getting them on paper will help clear your head and allow you to focus on today’s tasks today. One step at a time.
Create a log of questions to be resolved
There will be questions that arise over the coming days and weeks. Keep a list of questions in your exercise book and write notes as you go about uncovering the answers. “Do I need to change my super?” “What tax will I pay on my payout?” “Can I take my annual leave before my redundancy?” Whatever your questions write them down. It will give you a chance to clarify exactly what it is you are asking and recording the answers here is important. During times of stress it is really easy to have conversations, get the answer that you need and then a week or two later find that in all the upheaval you’ve forgotten the key details.
One of the first concerns that many people experience when faced with redundancy is the impact on their financial situation, and that’s perfectly natural. This can be a hugely difficult time both emotionally and intellectually. It is likely to be stressful for you and your loved ones so it is important that you remember to take care of yourself and seek support when you need it. While you don’t want to put your head in the sand, neither do you need to pressure yourself to make all the decisions straight away. Deal with what is in front of you today and leave tomorrow’s problems for tomorrow.
As the shock of the first couple of days subside, we are ready to help you think out your financial options.