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Dealing with retrenchment | Updated: 8:41:42 PM, Friday June 22, 2012
By Victoria Gardner Dealing with retrenchment

Deal with the emotional and financial impacts of retrenchment to get back in the saddle.
Image: © EastWest Imaging – Fotolia.com

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So, you’ve lost your job. Whether or not you saw it coming, being retrenched has the ability to turn life upside down as you grapple with the emotional and financial impacts of suddenly finding yourself out of work.

The thought of getting back in the saddle can be overwhelming for a whole host of reasons, but there are people and resources that can help.

The emotional side of retrenchment

Dianne Dejanovic, a financial counsellor with MoneyHelp, helps people deal with job loss, and says being retrenched can take a huge toll emotionally.

“There is a lot of grief and loss associated with retrenchment, explains Dejanovic. “First of all, it’s a shock, where people experience a time of uncertainty that can be very, very stressful. Talking to someone validates and acknowledges the feelings of grief, anger and distress.”

Working through these feelings is important for moving on and finding the best strategies for living with less income, accessing benefits and linking into support networks such as job search providers and financial planners.

While many retrenched workers access the MoneyHelp website for these sorts of resources, Dejanovic says people who need more help can phone a MoneyHelp counsellor, which is free and confidential, to talk through the issues and find out about other services that could be of help, such as referral to a GP, for obtaining further counselling that is subsidised through Medicare.

Financial counsellors can assist in practical areas such as drafting letters applying for financial hardship through banks, as well as being a good port of call for finding out what Centrelink entitlements you may be eligible for, such as rent assistance, concession cards and changes to your Family Tax Benefit.

An important thing to remember is that everyone is different in how they cope with retrenchment. Dejanovic says: “There are emotional and financial components, and the adjustment to change can be short term or long term, depending on the individual’s circumstances.

But looking at options and strategies for their particular circumstances can help to shift the focus.”

Getting back in the saddle

Simon Meyer, Managing Director of the Australian arm of recruitment firm Michael Page International, says it’s important to put your redundancy into context when searching for a role and engaging with a recruitment consultant or a new company.

“That word, ‘redundancy’, the key thing for candidates is that they explain it clearly. Why did it happen? The worst thing you could do is put your CV into the market, saying you were made redundant, but not actually explaining the reasons why,” Meyer says.

While retrenchment can be a shock to the system, it can also provide an opportunity to use your skills and experience to head in a new direction.

Tim Roche from outplacement firm Right Management says the first step following retrenchment is assessing where you are in your career and what you want next. Becoming more self-aware, looking at who you are, your key strengths and how you add value to a role can turn what is initially seen as a negative into a positive experience, full of possibility.

“You’d be amazed at how many people are in the wrong job. A career assessment is all about finding what people are ideally suited to,” Roche says.

According to the figures, retrenchment does indeed offer the opportunity for a ‘new beginning’. A 2011 survey of Right Management candidates found that nearly half of retrenched workers ended up changing industries, while nine per cent left the program to pursue self-employment.

In many cases, a successful transition comes down to selling your strengths, giving a good interview, and negotiating once a job offer comes through, provided it’s the right job, Roche says. More than a quarter of people secure new jobs in higher positions than previously held. “People often come out the other side not only happier, because they’ve found a role or work culture they’re better aligned to, but with a grasp of how to sell themselves,” Roche says.

If you find yourself in the process of being made redundant, make sure you take the time to consider what you are entitled to. Most employers will provide payment for accrued annual leave and benefits including pro-rata long service leave, and a redundancy payment based on years of service. If possible, try to negotiate the terms of your retrenchment to put you in the best position for a payout, taxation and finding new job opportunities.

The MoneyHelp website provides a useful retrenchment checklist that can help you work through entitlements and some of the practical elements of your termination.

Other helpful information

Beyond Blue can help you deal with the emotional and financial impacts of losing your job. The website contains resources such as a worksheet called ‘Structured Problem Solving’ to help you make practical steps for improving your current situation.

Centrelink’s Financial Information Service runs seminars outlining the choices you have following retrenchment. Contact Employment Services on 13 2850. Search for jobs online through the Australian JobSearch website.

Centrelink Social Workers can assist people who are facing difficulties or experiencing an unexpected change. To arrange an appointment, call 131 794 or 131 202 for languages other than English.

Job Services Australia is an Australian Government service through the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations that reconnects workers with employment opportunities and training and program support from organisations in more than 2000 locations.

The service helps people search for jobs, develop a plan for finding the right job, and connect with local employers, registered training organisations, federal, state, territory and local government and other organisations to help give you the right mix of training and skills development, based on your personal circumstances. It also offers the chance to undertake work experience with a relevant employer.

Depending on your situation, immediate help may include assistance such as résumé preparation and advice on the best ways to look for work, access to telephones, computers, stationery and employment vacancy listings to help you look for work and access to an interpreter if required.

The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations also provides special training grants to employers who hire workers 50 years of age and older.

Know your entitlements – visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website or call 131 394.

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