If you’ve been made redundant, what I’m about to tell you won’t be a surprise. So I’ll respect your intelligence and avoid sugar coating the reality of job loss. Whether it is voluntary or forced, being shown the door can truly be traumatic.
If you’re struggling to cope with the news it’s understandable. The impact and change associated with job loss has been described as similar to bereavement, and like bereavement there is a cycle of grief you may have to endure before feeling positive again.
Understanding the stages of grief following redundancy, and identifying the emotions you may be feeling, can help you better deal with them and come to terms with the situation. You may eventually see this as an opportunity, rather than a loss.
Grieving over job loss
If your company doesn’t need your job done anymore, or doesn’t need as many people doing your role, you are probably feeling hurt, rejected and dejected. Redundancy often has an effect on people similar to the grief following bereavement (identified by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross). Outplacement services can help you to recognise the process in order to transition through it and feel positive again.
The five stages of grief
If you have been made redundant, feelings and emotions you may experience are:
1. Shock and denial
Even if job losses have become common within your organisation or industry, it can be a huge shock to receive the bad news that YOU have been made redundant.
At first, it may be difficult for you to comprehend what has happened (“This isn’t really happening to me; if I just ignore this it will go away”). However, in the days afterwards the reality of what it means will begin to sink in.
Once the shock wears off, you may feel angry towards the people or the company that made you redundant and blame them for your job loss. This could be your manager or CEO, for example (“They’ve got no right to do this to me”).
At this stage, you may feel guilty at not working harder to keep your job (“If I had been better at my job they wouldn’t have done this to me”). Remember that being made redundant was not a reflection on your performance and abilities, so don’t blame yourself for losing your job.
As you begin to make sense of the situation and try to take back some control, you may want to get return to your former workplace (“Maybe I can negotiate my way back into it”). Understand that bargaining will not get your job back – it doesn’t exist anymore.
It’s natural to feel uncertainty, fear and sadness after you lose your job, but perhaps some of your friends and family think you should have moved on by now? The good news is this stage, as with the previous, shows a level of acceptance (the ultimate goal). But what if you’re struggling with loneliness, or feel defeated in your job search after some unsuccessful job applications?
Remaining positive is important in helping you move forward. Share your feelings with supportive family and friends or get professional assistance to manage your emotions. Try to think positively – for example, remember:
- Redundancy was not a reflection on your performance
- You are employable and have numerous skills and capabilities.
5. Acceptance of reality
By this final stage, you’re moving on from your job loss and thinking about rebuilding your career. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It may take a while to reach this stage; some people can take up to a year to process their feelings and gain perspective on their situation.
Often acceptance is accompanied by a redefinition about what is important to you and what you want to do in your future career.
By recognising each stage and understanding your emotions, you can pass through the cycle and eventually feel positive again. You may then even agree with people who say that redundancy was the best thing that happened to them…
How outplacement services can help
If your former employer has offered you the services of an outplacement provider, don’t ignore this assistance. You may think you don’t need support in coming to terms with redundancy and finding a new role, but you’ve got nothing to lose – and plenty to gain.
Glide Outplacement has based the first part of its career transition program on the ‘five stages of grief’. Our consultants have worked with many individuals who have experienced these feelings and emotions, using a range of tools and activities to help them through the cycle.
Timescales can vary according to the individual. Some people move backwards, or remain in a stage for a while before transitioning to ‘acceptance’. Others move quickly to ‘acceptance’, using this time to look at all their options as a result of their redundancy – grasping new opportunities, changing careers or setting up their own business.