Losing your job sucks. But there’s getting fired from your after school gig at the cinema because you were caught with your hands in the popcorn machine having a munch, and then there’s being made redundant from your adult job and wondering what the shit you’re gonna do next.
It’s a completely different ball game. And, unfortunately, something a lot of us are experiencing right now. The economy is in the shitter, businesses are having to make cuts – and sadly, that may have meant your head was the one on the chopping block.
Hannah, 31, knows this experience all too well – she’s been made redundant not once, but twice. Both times were through no fault of her own, as redundancies usually have nothing to do with your work ethic and everything to do with wider company restructuring. Still, it feels shit.
The first time it was quite a shock. My company had already made a few people redundant but I assumed by job was safe. When they called me in for the meeting, I actually thought they had called me in to talk about a promotion because I had been there for five years and had talked about taking the next step within the company.
She said her first feeling was that she’d done something wrong.
Even though they reassured me I wasn’t being fired, it felt like I was. I left work immediately and called my roommate and she stayed up and drank wine with me.
It turned out Hannah’s roommate had been made redundant the year before, so she immediately had a great support person who had been through the same shitstorm, and had some good advice.
She was able to talk me down quite a bit and reassure me it was a good thing. She reminded me that I was getting a decent payout and it would be a good push to find something new that I really enjoyed.
She also found her old boss a fantastic support.
She encouraged me to take some time off and not worry about looking for a new job for a while. I felt like she really helped me allow myself to take a break and take stock of what I really wanted and reframe the redundancy as an opportunity to consider the path that I was on and if it was something I really wanted.
So Hannah took a break. And she didn’t feel guilty about it – she had the money, and used the time to chill out, then reassessed where she wanted to go with her career. She ended up changing focuses, and pursued the same career path of public relations, just in an entirely different field.
Something I learned was how important it is to take stock of your financials first up. Figure out how long you can go without work to survive – you’ll feel far more secure about the immediate future. Then – if you can – enjoy some time off! Don’t feel guilty about it. Take some time to think about if you love your job or not, it can be a good opportunity to segue into a new career. It can also be an excellent time to upskill yourself, take some short courses or even re-enrol in TAFE or Uni.
One thing Hannah stressed was how important it was to support those going through redundancy – but letting them lead the conversation.
I had so many people who meant well, asking “so what are you going to do now?”, and I had no idea. I would get asked that all the time and felt pressure to have a plan or have a new job straight away. I would make things up.
She also said asking ANYTHING about money was a no-go.
Asking questions about my financials – how will you pay rent? How much money did you get? Will you move back in with your parents? – happened a LOT. This is straight-up BAD MANNERS whether someone has a job or not.
But something she said was lovely was when people would just hang out with her once she was out of work.
Schedule catchups with people who have been made redundant the same way you would prior to the redundancy. Try and keep them low cost – host dinner at your house or go for a walk together. Let the person who has lost their job lead the conversation around it, if they want to talk about it cool, if not, try and talk about other things. It can be draining when it’s all someone wants to talk to you about.
The second time she experienced redundancy, Hannah said she was ready. She felt it coming, and wanted to move out of Sydney anyway so the experience was far less traumatic. It still didn’t feel great, but she had the experience of getting through the first redundancy, so she wasn’t as stressed.
Hannah now lives in rural Australia and works locally there. She says her biggest learning from being made redundant has been experiencing the stigma of unemployment.
I had to reframe my thinking around being unemployed. People are in that position for a plethora of different reasons. Some people take it much harder than others and it can really be a blow to your mental health. When I hear people saying something like “oh they should just get a job”, it low-key makes my blood boil. It’s not always that easy.
The most important thing? Be kind to yourself if you’re going through redundancy. Don’t feel pressure to spend every waking hour job hunting, or upskilling. It’s a toll on your mental health, and taking a break – even if it’s just a few days at home – can be crucial for processing the experience.