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Redundancy and the real woman

redundancy and the real woman

‘It’s nothing personal’, were some of the words of reassurance offered to me by my employers during the redundancy process and while the logical part of my brain knew that it was a business based decision, the emotional part was feeling something quite different.

I had worked hard at my career, had strived to be the best I could be. Achievement did not come easily to me and no one was more proud than me when I graduated from University. However, here, lying in my tray was a letter that had the potential to take all of this away from me.

My fight or flight mode was engaged and set on fight.

It was my first experience of redundancy and rather than being a spectator, I was the headline act. We were to engage in a consultation process, which I soon realised was laughable. I fought and made no headway. What is the point in having a consultation when your opinions are not going to be considered? The management had already made their mind up, nothing was going to sway them.

Two private redundancy meetings then followed. During the first I was barely able to speak and the tears flowed readily. I was asked at one point if they should pause the meeting. I didn’t see the point, I wasn’t going to become less upset and I just wanted it over with. I made the offer of reducing my hours during that meeting which I knew was pointless, but it would be considered and fed back to me at the next meeting.

For the second and final meeting I found my focus. I knew that this was it, I was going to be made redundant and was determined to do it with my head held high. Predictably my offer of reducing my hours was not going to be enough to save me. I was given one last chance then to make any other suggestions. I made one. I told them the only way I could now see around the problem was that I paid them to come to work but as I couldn’t afford that it wasn’t going to happen. I just had to say it to highlight what a farce the consultation process actually is. So there we had it, I was officially redundant. I went on to make further comments about how I felt the loss of my department would affect the business. I wanted these comments to be taken down in the minutes and saw them as my prophesies of doom! (some of them proved to be accurate, don’t you love it when you can say, ‘I told you so’)

In one respect I was lucky. Due to my contract it was actually five months before my redundancy could take effect, so I had time on my side to secure another job. I faced lots of stiff competition though and the redundancy had really given my confidence a massive knock.

An opportunity arose within the company for a part-time role, those of us who were being made redundant were offered the opportunity first of applying for it. I found myself being interviewed for the role with another colleague. That was awkward, definitely for us and I would imagine for all of our other colleagues too. I secured the position and was able to breathe a sigh of relief.

I had a plan; gain my confidence back, take on temping work to top up my hours and keep my eye out for another job. I have achieved nearly all of those things, I am still looking for another job but in the mean time my part-time role is about to be made into a full time role, so that is some good news on the money front.

After going through this my attitude to work has hardened. I became a figure on a spreadsheet rather than a real person with feelings and bills to pay. The support that I would have liked from work colleagues was not evident from all sectors. It was like I had contracted a redundancy disease and people were afraid of being contaminated. They were in corners thankful that it wasn’t them, possibly also keeping their heads down for fear of highlighting themselves in another round of redundancies.

Lesson learnt, look after number one in the workplace.

by Rebecca Webb

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