Redundancy. A word that reverberates with definition; each letter stubs you out with cruel finality, its centre exudes words like dunce, dumb, done.
Redundant. You are surplus to requirements, any use you may have had, is no longer required. The weight of the letters ‘d’ and ‘t’ tell you that you are now a burden.
If ever there was a word that wreaked the effect of its purpose, then that is it.
To those who have been on the receiving end of this judgement, of which there have been many thousand during COVID-19, the attempt to reassure with platitudes such as ‘it’s not you, it’s the position’ or ‘it’s not just you, everyone is effected’, can sound superficial and bromidic.
There can be many reasons for redundancies and sometimes it may simply be used to dispense with people and there are those who have suffered the experience more than once. Some may see it coming whereas for others it is a complete shock. Then there are those who may be pleased by the prospect and/or opt for voluntary redundancy.
According to the government’s Office for National Statistics, redundancies reached a record high between September – November 2020 with 14.2 per thousand employees being affected. Compare this with the financial crash of 2008 when the rate reached 12.2 in every 1,000.
Since February 2020, the number of payroll employees has fallen by 828,000.
Surprisingly there has conversely been an average increase in pay of 3.6% but that has been driven by the reduction in the number of lower paid employees.
But there are some who question the rationale of redundancy.
Dr Madeleine Petzer of the Liverpool John Moores University, ‘Victims, Survivors and Envoys’ cites a number of specialists:
Braithwaite et al (2005) found that most studies on the success of redundancies as a costsaving strategy tend to challenge the validity of a reduction in personnel more than support restructuring. Gandolfi (2008) argues that there is significant empirical evidence to propose that the ‘consequences of downsizing are negative at best and disastrous at worst’, with Henkoff (1994), Cascio (1993, 2013), and Brockner et al (1985) agreeing that the research regarding redundancies has proved consistently that the anticipated benefits of redundancies have not been realised.
But no matter what is opined, it has been widespread. It can of course be an opportunity to do what you have always wanted or dedicate more time to a project you have been putting off because you were too busy with your job. But if you have financial commitments that relied on an income, the stress of finding a new job on top of the multi-pronged COVID assault, can be too much for some.
Redundancy is known to affect a person’s confidence and self-esteem and whilst it is easier to deal with mass redundancy rather then just one person, it is still compared with a bereavement and the emotions that go with such a loss.
So how do you pull yourself free of the misery that many are finding themselves?
There is no secret formula and definitely no, ‘one size fits all’ because every situation is different and each person an individual. But what you can be assured is this is mass redundancy on a global scale, so we really are all in this together.
Times will continue to be tough for weeks to come but personally, I think we have reached the top of a very steep climb and we are making our way back down the other side. Nothing will be the same, the seismic shift in life as we knew it means the social and economic landscape will look and behave differently.
You may find a work opportunity that closely matches your pre-COVID role, but the chances are you will have to rethink. But that is no bad thing, if there is one thing we have all learned it is what we really need and what can we do without.
I have a hunch 2021 will see a few changes for us all but it’s up to each of us to redesign, restore and rebuild our lives crushing the ruins of redundancy underfoot.