How To Deal With Retrenchment


Think retrenchment is something that only the middle management need to worry about? This may have been the case before, but alas, the world is now spinning a lot quicker than it ever did, and so are employee turnover rates. As morale-crushing as it may seem, the truth is that it’s getting harder to stay relevant with the speed of technological disruptions.  Think taxis, Uber, and then driverless cabs.  And even if you’re the up and coming star of the company today, you can’t stop the movement of operations offshore, or the increasing use of freelance talent.

So if you do get retrenched, remember that it’s not the end of the world even if it may feel so at times.  Here are some tips on how to cope and move on.

Your job is not you

In a work-obsessed society like Singapore, it’s not uncommon to find people who identify wholly and even solely with their jobs.  When that happens, being asked to leave is a completely deflating experience because, really, how do you leave the only identity you’ve ever known?

It’s crucial to keep things in perspective, and remember that retrenchment isn’t a direct attack on your being.  Your company is letting go of the fill-in-the-blanks-Manager, and you just happened to be in that role at that point in time. It’s not you who is redundant; it’s the job.  It’s not you that is irrelevant; it’s your skills that are irrelevant.  With that in mind, you can now focus on tackling the problem with a calmer mind.

Know what resources you have

This could be financial, moral, mental, or anything that you can possibly draw upon. Obvious, the financial resources come as the most pressing issue to most.

Regardless of your retrenchment package, it’s wise to review your spending and saving habits and do an overhaul if necessary.  If you foresee yourself to be on a long hunt, then you may even want to consider selling things that you no longer absolutely need, like a car. Any inconveniences that you face now are temporary, so bear with it if you have to.

Don’t be shy or feel ashamed to draw on support from your parents, or family and friends.  This is especially so when you’ve got a family to take care of. Sure, you may have always been the one that they depended on, but know that you now need some moral encouragement and understanding, so speak with family members and friends that you trust. You may even want to explain things to your kids and seek their understanding if you have to cancel holiday plans and cut back on family expenses.

Once again, keep in mind that this period of instability will eventually end when you get back into the workforce. Don’t doubt that you will, remember you’re doomed to work for life. 

Get on everybody’s radar

Hate networking? Now is the best time to learn to love it.

Know what the employment trends are, find out how employers seek out talent, and make sure that you’re doing all you can to get on everybody’s radar. That usually means going on social media, LinkedIn, and basically connecting with people that you hardly know.  Often times, the best jobs are first sourced internally before they make it to the job ads, so don’t rely fully on agencies and put yourself out there. You are your best salesman.

Upgrade your skills, or change paths

Take courses, go back to higher education, or radically change your life path.  If you’re still passionate and interested in your industry, that’s great, go forth to deepen and broaden your knowledge.  But if you’ve always had that niggling doubt that you’re in the right career, a retrenchment could be a blessing in disguise that forces you to recalibrate your life.

Speak to industry professionals or even take up temporary stints to challenge yourself while earning some active income.  You may just end up finding your new career path!

Keep a balanced lifestyle

All that stress of job-hunting and soul-searching could take out all the energy and life out of you.  That’s why you need to constantly and consciously take time out to keep yourself healthy and active.  The more sluggish your body is, the less energy you have mentally to deal with a challenging phase in life.  Yes, you can cancel that expensive gym membership and get fit in parks and community gyms.

Remember, you are your best friend and motivator. Trust yourself and your own wisdom if you need to make big decisions. Never isolate yourself thinking that you’re less worthy just because you’re retrenched.  Let the negativity slide over and keep yourself centered on the present.

Good luck and all the best!


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