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Navigating the Emotional Roller Coaster of Redundancy

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Redundant Businesswoman Leaving Office With Box

The ‘R’ word is on the lips of many Canberrans, and there are a lot of mixed emotions surrounding it. In this two-part article series, we’ll discuss the emotions involved in taking a redundancy and then give you some ideas to help map out a clear way forward.

It is really helpful to understand the devastating emotional impact an unwelcome redundancy can have.  If you recognise the reactions of stress and anxiety you will be better prepared to provide support.

People being ‘given’ a redundancy will need plenty of time, space and assistance to work their way through the issues and questions that can arise. Those around you can help with the readjustment process by showing understanding, giving plenty of time, listening, being reassuring and helping to stay positive.

When you first hear the news, you may go into a state of shock, feeling incredibly hurt, rejected and fearful of what the future may hold. This is exacerbated by uncertain financial circumstances, dependents, age, occupation and career stage.

Even though the definition of redundancy is “The state of being no longer in employment because there is no more work available”, you can still question why you were impacted.

Just thinking about the loss of workplace relationships, the daily routine and sense of identify you have in your workplace can be very disorientating. Through our work we find an identity, a status, regular intellectual stimulation and financial reward (that pay our bills and puts food on the table). Redundancy can mean being detached from all of this security, the job that we did, the pride we took in our work, the close friends and colleagues and the daily routine we would normally follow. When that is taken away, we can feel completely isolated, sad, adrift and unsure of our rights or even the future. A major part of our old identity is disappearing and we need to find a way to get a new definition of who we are and what we ‘do’ now.

All of this takes its toll and can be incredibly stressful and scary! You may spend quite some time wondering why and what you did wrong and how you are meant to find a new job. It will take a while to make sense of what has happened, adjust and feel like you are back on an even keel with a new sense of purpose and direction.

When you understand and acknowledge the emotions involved in being made redundant as being like going through the grief process, you can realise the emotions are completely normal and not a permanent state of being. The Kübler-Ross model sets out five stages of grief. Each stage can feel like being on a roller coaster that sometimes goes up or down, as if you are in the blackness of a tunnel or in the bright sunshine again. You may go through some stages faster than others and repeat some stages, or get stuck. These stages are:

1. Denial – to react as if it’s not happening and just not believing what you are being told.

2. Anger – asking “Why me?”, and “It’s not fair! reacting strongly and feeling persecuted.

3. Bargaining – “If I could just do something about it, maybe take a pay cut, work less hours and it wouldn’t happen”.

4. Depression – the sadness of being away from familiar territory and the safety of the daily routine and job security.

5. Acceptance of the situation and a sense of being able to focus and move forward with life.

Once you are at the acceptance stage and ready to move on, you can then begin to imagine the future, what your next role might be, how your skills from your previous job are transferrable to the next. Then you can begin to imagine a brighter future.

Are you feeling anxious or stressed?

NewAccess is an early intervention program for people experiencing mild to moderate depression and anxiety. The program is a beyondblue program, the first of its kind in Australia, and has been operating since October 2013.

This service is free to patients and though GP referrals are welcome, they are not required. Anyone over 18 years of age who is not already seeing a mental health clinician can use the service.

There are five local Access Coaches in the Canberra region and currently there is no waiting time to access the program.  Clients can have up to six sessions with an Access Coach, either over the phone or face to face.

The direct number to contact the NewAccess team is 6287 8066.  Should you wish to speak with the Program Manager, call Lauren Anthes on 6287 8099.

For further information visit

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2 Responses to Navigating the Emotional Roller Coaster of Redundancy

Lisa @ Blithe Moments says: 28 May, 2014 at 4:11 pm

Thanks Jacquie. My whole organisation is most likely closing given the budget and there are more than 60 of us who will have been made redundant by 30 June. I certainly seeing many stages of the Kübler-Ross model being displayed at the moment. I look forward to the next article.

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