Young people share what it’s like to be made redundant
The dialogue surrounding work for young people is often centered around job hunting, interviews and promotions.
So what happens if you’re made redundant when your career is just starting out? Or if you’re a few years into working life, when you think your role is pretty stable?
Redundancy is a big life change that affects people in different ways, with the potential to bring on financial difficulties, mental health issues and more.
Rachel*, a journalist from London, was made redundant from a national newspaper last year, after working there almost 18 months.
Rachel said: ‘Initially, I had a lot of anger. I felt like I had worked hard putting in the hours and effort in the months leading up to the redundancy announcement, so I was frustrated that I couldn’t continue my role and that I didn’t have a choice in the matter.
‘As I worked out my month-long notice period, I put on a brave face to my colleagues and friends but the months that followed took a bit of a dark turn,’ says Rachel.
‘Despite the redundancy being out of my control, I tried to pinpoint exactly what I (personally) had done wrong. Obviously that resulted in me spiralling into negative thinking and doubting my own ability – especially because I was only a few years into my career. I felt totally overwhelmed and incredibly lost.
‘As a result, my self-esteem and self-worth plummeted and my mental health was in a really bad place. What I should have taken into account is the fact that businesses make cuts every day, often there’s nothing personal about those decisions.
‘Thankfully, I’ve come out the other side of it and I’m incredibly happy where I’ve ended up in my career.
‘Being made redundant was probably one of the best things to have happened, it’s giving me a totally new perspective on work and the fact that no job is ever really “secure” – so there’s no point dwelling on things you can’t control.’
Nikki said that she been made redundant twice, the first time was when she was 23. Now she works as a career coach, speaker, podcast host and helps others who have been made redundant.
She says: ‘I have been made redundant twice. Both times it shattered me. It was devastating and definitely hit my mental health.
‘The first thing you think is you aren’t good enough – especially if others stay and you don’t.
‘I also lost my routine – I had no idea what to do so just sat around the house. I was renting and so the panic of not knowing how to pay rent was crippling. I had a little in savings and a credit card but knew that only bought me a month or two.
‘I did promo work as it was quick money but I will never forget that feeling of losing your worth – we are made to feel that our jobs are what define us so without my work I felt that I didn’t matter.
‘But it was a blessing in disguise, ultimately, because now I own my own business as a career coach, speaker and podcast host and work with businesses to work on boosting morale and find happiness in the workplace.’
Emma was working as a Content Marketing Manager at a B2B marketing company but was made redundant six months into her role.
She says: ‘I was commuting for over an hour, travelling more than 50 miles each way to go to a job (which didn’t pay very much). After I implemented new structure and processes, we hired a junior who I trained and taught everything I had implemented.
‘As soon as she was trained up to near my ability, they let me go. I felt undervalued and used.
‘Because I was in my probation period (six months), they could let me go with no warning or compensation.
‘It was a weird feeling. I felt kind of lost – it wasn’t something I had to deal with before. I had always had the comfort of leaving a job knowing what I was doing. I hated the feeling of not knowing.
‘I felt betrayed by my employer as they had made me feel at home as a valued member of the team; so for them to do that for me without a warning wasn’t great.
Emma says the redundancy – which happened in her mid-20s – was the first time she had real financial worries.
‘I had a car on finance, rent in my little flat to pay for, I actually had a holiday booked and planned and it had just been Christmas, so finances are never steady at that time of year.
‘I was working freelance as a photographer at the time and luckily had one gig to work pretty soon so that bit of pocket money helped me to survive. I am also lucky that I am organised and methodical with my money, and always make sure I have some money saved away for a rainy day. This all came in handy. I think it’s important to have some savings for something like this.
‘Fortunately, my experience got me an interview and a job – which is where I am now – and I have never felt more valued in a team.’
Alice* a freelance journalist from London was suddenly told there was no need for her to return to work.
Alice said: ‘I was out at an event with an intern who had just started when I got a call from my boss telling me “you don’t need to come in tomorrow (or ever again)”.
‘It turns out that they had cut the budget for my role, which was really just code for them having used up my skills and no longer wanting to pay me. I was livid and fought back, making sure they would pay me for the last month I had worked and would give me at least two weeks’ notice, even though I had no contract.
‘I had been there a fair while and they had been feeding me positive feedback for months, so this was very much out of the blue.
‘It had a knock-back effect on my mental health, with me panicking about what I’d do now, especially since I work in an industry notorious for not having many jobs available.
‘I was also so hurt and let-down by the way it was handled – they didn’t even let me come in and say goodbye to my colleagues, and somehow this made me feel ashamed – even though I’d done nothing wrong. But it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. I started freelancing full-time and I’ve never been happier.’
Lee was made redundant in Manchester, back in 2008.
He says: ‘I was made redundant from a national bank during my graduate scheme, due to the credit crunch.
‘I had a mental breakdown due to feeling my personal development and financial future had been taken away.
‘My redundancy was a catalyst for both mental distress and my own accountability. It meant that I decided that if I was going to earn a good living and become more qualified, I would have to do that myself.
‘I went to a business adviser because I had a business idea, but he told me I was young, black and wouldn’t be trusted in the industry.
‘I re-framed my struggle as I had to take control of my own education and career, so started the business anyway, and it still runs in a form today.
‘Now I talk in sixth forms and run workshops on promoting wellbeing for performance, and how to be resilient for future careers.
‘I use my experience to help the next generation entering the marketplace as it’s even more fragmented than when I did. My passion is to positively impact the wellbeing of 10,000 adults and children in 2020.’