What happens if you’re made redundant? One minute you’re in a steady job – the next minute, your employer is showing you the door.
How do you cope with the shock, and the sense of loss and betrayal?
And is it possible to bounce back?
‘It’s like a new lease of life’
Ryan Plews now runs his own brand consultancy after being made redundant from a design agency in 2012.
“For me it’s like a new lease of life,” he says. “I always think you get too comfortable.”
But when he was made redundant, he had a one-year old son and he and his wife were in the process of selling their house and buying a new one in Yarm, near Middlesbrough.
On the day he lost his job, Mr Plews describes “plucking up the courage to tell my wife, and she turned around and told me she was pregnant”.
“From then on I had no choice,” he says. He just had to run his own business. “You’ve got to get on. It puts your feet on the ground and gets you thinking,” he says.
“It’s a shock. The door’s closed and you wake up in the morning and think ‘I’m not going to work’.”
But he says he had the attitude of: “Let’s do this, let’s push on.”
Unable to get a mortgage, the family started renting a house and he has built his business.
His family are now in a position to buy again.
While it’s not a utopia, Mr Plews is very much enjoying running his own firm, and “being self-employed, I’ve got this flexibility to spend time with the family,” he adds.
‘I’m always watching my back’
Kate Ravenscroft from Wilmslow in Manchester has had an extended run of bad luck, having been made redundant three times in 10 years.
The first time the marketing manager lost her job was in 2008, at the beginning of the financial crash.
At the time, her children were quite young and, being a single mum, she found she had to rely on the benefits system which “made it possible for me to live, just about,” although she also had help from her family.
She bounced back, and managed to get a job she loved, working for a recycling and aluminium manufacturing firm. Then a new chief executive came in, and restructured the business.
“That was the worst one,” she said. “I still feel the pain of it now. It turns your life upside down and, no matter what anyone says, it feels personal.”
She was made redundant from that job in July 2015 – the human resources manager told her: “At least you can enjoy the sunshine”.
She found that redundancy “a trauma”, she says.
“I found it extremely traumatic, and I’m still angry about it four years on.”
Ms Ravenscroft managed to get another job but that contract was terminated in July 2017 shortly after she had back surgery.
She now has a permanent contract at another firm. While she loves marketing, she says: “I have no faith in permanent employment these days. I’m always watching my back.”
“The feeling of vulnerability is always there.”
‘Nobody is suddenly going to give me a job’
Stuart Kilpatrick worked as a revenue manager at a hotel in Perth in central Scotland from 2016 to 2018, but was then made redundant when the business folded in January of that year.
Employees were told on payday of that January – just after Christmas – that not only that they would they lose their jobs, they would also not be paid for the month.
Mr Kilpatrick had money put away, so was able to keep up with bill repayments, but there were people who worked at the hotel “who literally could not pay their rent”, he says.
“I felt partly responsible for not doing a good enough job”, he says, even though the part of the business he was in charge of was doing very well when the hotel folded.
At the time, he was also a director in a commercial cleaning business, so he took a job in a call centre at an energy firm to pay the bills, and focused on the cleaning business the rest of the time.
When the cleaning business also didn’t work out, he says: “I really struggled with feelings of failure and low self-worth. I think a lot of people would feel that.”
‘Hard to pick yourself up’
But he says he knew the only person who could change his situation was himself.
“Nobody is suddenly going to give me a job,” he says.
He adds that he knows “how hard it is to pick yourself back up into a job with some responsibility.”
While he is still working in the call centre, Mr Kilpatrick now has two job offers on the table, in part after networking at his current job.
He has been offered a more senior position at the energy firm, and he also has an offer from a hotels group as an operations manager.
But to get there, he contacted between 60 and 70 firms about jobs and steeled himself against knock-backs and uncertainty.
‘You’ve got to keep going’
Harpreet Kapoor worked in marketing for a major consumer goods giant, and assumed she would have a job for life.
When the firm bought a well-known fragrance and cosmetics firm, the company consolidated roles and she was given the choice of moving abroad or taking redundancy.
A move wasn’t an option, as she had a son in school, so she opted for the latter.
“You go through this cycle of emotions. You start with anger – ‘Why is this happening?’ – you’ve invested so many years in this company.
“I felt something I had worked for, something I had aspired to was being taken away from me, and that makes you feel quite vulnerable,” she says.
“After that, disappointment, but then you take it on board. Hey, you’re in charge, you’ve got to make the best of this situation.”
She managed to find a new role, working for a small electrical company.
“It was something new for me, because I had come from the world of beauty,” she says.
She enjoyed her job, but then the firm closed the UK arm of the business, and Harpreet was made redundant again. She is currently on the hunt for a new role.
“It’s been hard, but I’m trying to keep a positive spin on things. You’ve got to keep going, and keep reaching out.”