Redundancy is more than losing your job – it attacks your identity

With the media and marketing industry plagued with redundancies, and more to come, we need to get better at coping with the sense of grief and worthlessness that can come from losing your job, explains Simon Rountree.

The media and marketing industry has experienced a slew of redundancies recently, with roles at some of Australia’s biggest brands disappearing. Earlier this month, REA Group restructured with around 60 redundancies, and in the past few months alone, News Corp made “around 50” people redundant, Nine made a “handful” of redundancies, five were made redundant at media agency Ikon, and the Dentsu Aegis Network continues to undergo a restructure that involves redundancies. And research states that, in the past decade, as many as 3,000 local journalism jobs have been lost.

So, what happens when we’re made redundant? We live in a world where the benefits of work go beyond just doing a job. Many of us invest ourselves within the roles we undertake and the businesses we work for, and are stimulated by the social, learning, career and economic opportunities that come from this. When we’re made redundant, this is a direct attack that severs our sense of control over our lives.

Statistics show the average human spends just under 80 years on earth, 13 years and two months of which are spent at work – and more than 11 years looking at screens – compared to just one year and three days socialising.

Work provides us with a routine, a sense of control over our lives and security that not only allows us to sustain a certain lifestyle, but also allows us to plan for the future: for example, buying a house, and planning a holiday. Our jobs provide us with an identity that often has a profound impact and shapes who we are.

As the media and marketing industries face ongoing redundancies, we all need to become more familiar with essential strategies to support mental health, confidence and wellbeing if our roles are made redundant.

Be mindful of language

The language we use is extremely important to identify what happened and see the situation for what it really is. Ensure you frame the situation as it happened and make the mental shift from “l lost my job”, which is negative and puts the blame on you, to “the position was made redundant to reduce overheads”.

Create a new routine

A new routine means new possibilities. It’s okay to take a break and possibly have a holiday, or maybe volunteer, while still having a purpose. Your new routine should have a clear purpose: to create a new job, by building networks, meeting people for coffee, updating your CV, contacting recruitment agencies, and so on.

Be open to your identity changing

Things won’t be the same and that’s okay. Your phone may not ring as much or you may not get as many emails but that doesn’t mean it will be like this forever. Spend time reassessing your personal values and look to see how they can guide you with your next steps. In times of change, values provide us with a clear direction on who we want to be and are strongly linked to resilient behaviours.

Understand the value of your skills

Spend time outlining your skills and capabilities, and which are transferrable. Observe the job market or speak to recruitment agencies to see which industries and roles are compatible with your skills. Look to up-skill and accept that your next job may not be like the one you’ve just left (it could be even better).

Question negative thoughts and take time to process

Emotions are there for a reason. Feeling sadness, loss or grief after being made redundant is normal and it takes time to process. It’s normal to find yourself doubting or wondering if you’ll be able to get another job. But by questioning these negative thoughts, you can bring your thinking process back to reality and prevent the potential downward spiral of negativity.

For example, if you’re thinking: “If only I worked harder maybe they would have kept me”, ask yourself, “What proof do I have that working harder would have prevented the financial difficulties the business got itself into?”

Despite its challenges, being made redundant also creates opportunities. The stronger your levels of resilience are, the greater chance you have of maintaining your overall wellbeing and identity.

Simon Rountree is the founder and CEO of Change Ready, which teaches individuals, teams and organisations evidence-based practical skills and measurable tools


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