The Effects of Redundancy
There are lots of vague expressions for firing people - downsizing, outsourcing, organisation change, company review, restructuring and redundancy. Irrespective of which labels organisation use, people's emotional reactions tend to be the same. Apart from financial implication, job loss can mean a significant loss of identity and an individual's self-esteem may be effected too. Additionally, an individual may feel isolated from the society or social network. Of course, there are always individuals for whom a redundancy may be welcome. For instance, if an individual receives a decent redundancy package or was unhappy in their workplace. For such individuals a redundancy offer an opportunity with financial security to do other things. However, most people do not fall into this category.
Yes, losing a job may be an increasingly common career 'event', something some of us will experience at some stage. But the familiarity doesn't lessen the psychological pain that often accompanies the redundancy. Finding a job in a recession is tough enough, but struggling with the self-critic voices, doubts and fears in your head can be an even tougher effort. The sudden loss of routine, such getting ready for work, or contact with professionals or colleagues and simply not having a workplace to go to can leave people feeling isolated, depressed and lost.
Depending on age, personality type, values, family and financial circumstances, individual reactions may range from mild, moderate to severe. The most common reaction to job loss is physical shock accompanied by some of the classic symptoms associated with grief; disbelief, disappointment, anger, denial which may lead to becoming withdrawn, low of self-esteem, not confidence, and a feeling of 'why me?' This is particularly true when an individual had no prior warning or sense that they would lose their job.
Stress reactions to job loss vary. They may include: Upset this may be crying quietly or openly Becoming withdrawn Breakdown Pretending nothing has happened, even to the extent of concealing it from partner/spouse/family/friends Depression Anxiety When it comes to materialisation of distress, there are no gender differences. While men tend to initially display macho mannerism, their physical and emotional reactions are exactly the same as those of women - anger, despair, rage, grief, sense of loss, inadequacy, low self-esteem, and in extreme cases, suicidal or suicide.
Job loss, like any other form of major loss can have many of the emotions akin to those of bereavement. So, while well-meaning friends (we may even have said it ourselves) might advise not getting to upset about it, we shouldn't be surprised by the growing body of some academic researcher to suggest that unemployment should be treated as serious psychological crisis.
UK Government also announced an initiative where people made redundant can be referred to therapists through a network linking Jobcentre, GP surgeries and NHS services.
Much of the therapy on offer is based on what's called the Kubler-Ross model. Dr Elisabeth Kuber-Ross (1969) pioneered methods in the support and counselling of personal trauma, griefs and grieving, associated with death an dying. She also dramatically improved the understanding and practices in relation to bereavement and hospice care. The Kubler-Ross model is the five stages of grief which (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance) are transferable to varying degrees and in different ways, to personal change and emotional upset resulting form factors others than deaths or dying. We can often clearly observe similar reaction to those who loss the job or undergoing redundancy.
However, while one school of thought claims financial pressure remain the trigger of being depressed in redundancy, as so money and what it buys us in principal of being employed -- another body of opinion argues that the so-called 'latent' benefits of employment are more important. It is when we are losing the sense of identity, feeling isolated and losing social contact that we have from workplace are more to blame for this.
In previous recessions it was generally assumed that working women who lost their jobs would simply, and quietly happy revert to being a housewife whereas men found it much tougher, but again , in this current economic situation, it has become trickier to generalise. However, stats suggests that in three quarters of dual-income household, men are still the bigger earners. Probably, it is more likely men seem to struggle more to adapt when got redundant.
This is my experience when I lost my job last year:
"Loss the job makes everything stop suddenly, that's my experience anyway., so my advice to others is to use the time you're given constructively to talk to people who can give perspective. My first reaction when I lost a job was shock. I was working in the Public Health Sector and because of so-called 'cutting the budget', my contract was terminated prematurely. I was upset and feeling humiliated. However, I told myself, that I still had some savings and I could use the time off to go back to see my family back in Indonesia, then I decided to go back to university to study a part-time master's in Psychological Therapies, a subject that related to my counselling work. But when I returned from seeing my family and paid half of my tuition fees, I started to regret my decisions - I spent a lots of money and felt guilty - how am I going to pay the rest of my tuition fees? Am I going to get myself in debt or homeless?
I then decided to sign on, and that was horrible. I had to go to a my local Jobcentre and some people were ranting and shouting in reception and security guards at every corner. It was like being in a lunatic room. The whole process was depressing! In fact, the Jobcentre provided my motivation - I didn't want to go back there!
But if you haven't got money come in and your bills keeps adding up, you will start thinking you will take anything. Luckily my husband keeps encouraging me to keep trying something more in line with the counselling work and I then decided to start my private counselling practice. See Misma Counselling and Psychotherapy Services
as well as studying my part-time Master.
Here some tips to cope when you loss a job or being made redundant. The process may take a while but if you approach your situation in the right way with support and a level head, you'll come out the other side. You may even find redundancy is the best thing that's ever happened to you.
Above all, keep it real when you are out of work.
Misma Hemming - Counsellor, Psychotherapist, Life Coaching, Mentor