Coping with redundancy

By David Price, workplace wellbeing expert and CEO at Health Assured
Recently, several large organisations have been making vast numbers of workers redundant. While this is necessary for some businesses in these trying economic times, it’s all too easy sometimes to forget the genuine human impact of redundancy.
Losing your job can cause a lot of negative feelings and bring about a lot of lifestyle changes—not all of them easy to deal with. You can feel rejected, your self-esteem can take a beating, and suddenly your social circle might be much smaller—the isolation of joblessness and the taking away of a sense of purpose are both severe.
Redundancy can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety for those affected. This manifests in a host of different ways:

  • Feeling afraid or very worried—a constant sense that everything is going wrong
  • Panic, or uneasiness
  • Inability to focus
  • Insomnia, or sometimes far too much sleep
  • Depersonalisation—a feeling that nothing is real, and that the affected person isn’t really here

On top of this, the sudden financial insecurity means anxiety about the future is magnified tenfold. So, what can you do to cope with the news of a redundancy?
You’re likely to suffer the following intense emotions after a redundancy:

  • Shock—even if you knew the layoffs were coming, actually being selected can be quite the shock
  • Anger—at the company for letting you go, or your colleagues who are unaffected
  • Depression—common after the anger subsides, a sense of despair and a lack of self-worth
  • Guilt—you might feel that you’ve let people down; your family, the company, yourself
  • Relief—sometimes the atmosphere of a company goes drastically downhill when redundancy is in the air. When this is the case, it can be a huge relief to be away from that toxic atmosphere

The best way to deal with the effects of redundancy is to talk to people: loved ones, family, friends, anyone. Understand and realise that you’re not alone, being made redundant isn’t a failing, and that nobody thinks any less of you—that’ll help fend off any feelings of negativity and lack of self-worth.
Suddenly, you’ll have a lot more ‘free’ time on your hands—use some of this to look for new work, but also stay active. Exercise is a great way to keep your mental health up, along with eating lots of fresh fruit and veg, cutting down the caffeine and sugar, and sleeping regularly.
If you’re an employer who has to make people redundant, there are ways to lessen this blow. Bringing in a careers adviser is a good idea, as this can help people who are unsure of their next steps—which is a huge source of anxiety. If you have an EAP, directing people toward this service—and the counselling it offers—will go some way to mitigating the stress your people feel.
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