I got retrenched – now what?

30 July 2018 - 07:00 By Vincent Maake
Man retrenched from work.
Man retrenched from work.
Image: 123RF/rawpixel.

In this era of downsizing and mergers, job loss is something we all fear. If you find yourself waiting for news regarding your employment status, try to avoid conjecture. Instead, ManpowerGroup South Africa’s managing director, Lyndy van den Barselaar, suggests that you should be mindful of your emotional and physical needs.

“With South Africa’s employment landscape experiencing notable pressure in the past couple of years, paired with the unstable economic backdrop, retention and hiring prospects are often uncertain for local employees and job seekers,” she says.

If you are retrenched or your have lost your job, van den Barselaar provides some practical steps that can help you get back on your feet – emotionally, physically, and professionally:

Take care of yourself. On the day of your notice, nothing is more important. Most often your employer will provide direction regarding packing up personal effects, company assets, and leaving the office.

“Give yourself some time to absorb what has happened, so you can deal with your initial emotional reactions in the best way possible,” she suggests. “It is important to be open to support from those who offer it.,” If offered the support of an outside company – such as a transition firm – take full advantage of this resource.

Defer any significant decisions. Research suggests we will make the worst possible decisions on the day we lose our job. No decisions regarding your career are required today - that can wait until you are feeling more centred.

Share the news with your spouse or partner. “You may gain support by opening up to those who care about you,” she says. When you are ready, share the news with your immediate family.

Review the information provided by your former employer. Take time to make sure you understand it and, if you’re unsure or unclear, seek professional advice. Many items can be clarified by talking with the HR contact indicated in your termination letter. Pay particular attention to the date your release document must be signed and returned, and ensure you do not miss that date. If you need more time, contact HR and ask for an extension.

Review your finances. If you need financial advice, seek out a professional. Make sure you have a clear idea of how long your severance will last, if you received one. Consider what changes, if any, might be necessary with your current spending habits, and how you can change these.

Additionally, visit appropriate government websites to educate yourself on the regulations regarding employment insurance benefits.

Do not email everyone you know telling them you’ve been laid off. Your current state of employment is not your most important characteristic. Over the next several weeks you will be reaching out to people in your network but it’s important to do so thoughtfully and strategically.

“As much as a job loss can be stressful, it can also provide you with an opportunity to re-evaluate your career goals. Taking into consideration that a persons job is much more than just the way we make a living, it influences the way we see ourselves, as well as the way others see us. Therefore, take on the situation with a clear mind, and think about the future before making any rash decisions,” concludes van den Barselaar.