Coping with redundancy can be incredibly difficult. But it’s important to remember that whether you’re feeling sad, shocked, angry, frustrated or something else entirely; your feelings are completely valid.

There’s also no right way to cope with the situation. However, there are a few considered steps that you can take to help you move forward.

Whether you’ve already been made redundant or think you might be made redundant in the near future, here are 10 helpful steps you can take to help you navigate this unsettling time and get back on your feet.

1. Take some time to come to terms with the situation

Perhaps you didn’t see your redundancy coming, or maybe you suspected it would happen but have still been left reeling by the fact that it’s now a reality. Whatever your situation, if you’re in a state of shock, it’s important to give yourself some time to come to terms with the situation.

When we lose something really important to us, it’s normal to enter a period of grief, as our brain tries to make sense of what’s happened and adjust to a new normal. This process usually isn’t linear and can take you on a rollercoaster of emotions.

During this time, it’s important to acknowledge your feelings, rather than suppress them, as this can delay the recovery process and make it more difficult to move forward.

If you’re experiencing shock or grief and are struggling to find a way through it, our article on coping with grief and loss has some helpful steps you can take.

2. Try not to panic

It’s completely normal to experience shock at losing your job, but try not to let feelings of panic take over.

Panicking affects our ability to think clearly and plan forward, and can make the situation feel worse. If you’re finding it difficult not to panic, there are a few helpful breathing exercises you could try to help you to feel calmer.

Some people also find mindfulness effective. While it might not be for everyone; many people say that bringing their mind back to the present moment (and not ruminating about the future), gives them some peace.

Everyday activities from cooking to gardening can be used to focus your mind on the present. You can find more information about these activities in our article on the subject.

3. Consider negotiating with your employer

When your employer approaches you to inform you about your redundancy, consider whether bargaining with them could make the process easier for you. For example, perhaps you could ask for some extra financial support towards a course that will help you retrain in a new profession, or for an extra month’s pay to keep you afloat.

Even if your employer can’t afford to offer anything of financial benefit, they might agree to write you a glowing reference or LinkedIn recommendation, or to introduce you to people in their network at other firms. They may also be willing to negotiate on your last day of employment to buy you a little more time.

Employers know that redundancies are often devastating for people. So there’s a chance that they’ll be open to bargaining if it won’t cost them the earth – but will make things that little bit easier for you.

It’s also worth asking your employer about alternative working arrangements. For example, whether there’s a chance that you could stay with the company if you dropped down to part-time hours, took a pay cut, or moved into another role. For more information about how to negotiate with your employer, it’s worth reading the relevant section of our redundancy guide, here.

4. Know your rights

Navigating the redundancy process can feel much more manageable if you know your rights. It’s a good idea to get hold of a copy of your employer’s redundancy policy, and to check over your employment contract to confirm that the agreed exit terms are being followed.

If you feel that you’ve been treated unfairly by your employer or they’re failing to uphold their end of the bargain, the Acas, Citizens Advice, and Government websites can give you more information about your entitlement, and what support is available for businesses and employees.

You might also find it useful to read more about whether your redundancy is fair or not in our guide to redundancy, which offers information on redundancy notice periods, the redundancy consultation process, and redundancy pay.

5. Try not to take it personally and keep the lines of communication open with your employer

Just as you might be finding it difficult to accept your redundancy – it can also be incredibly difficult for employers and managers to make these decisions and to let people go.

It’s normal to feel angry about the situation and to feel hurt that you’ve put time and effort into a company that’s now asking you to leave. But, try your best not to take it personally, as this can affect your confidence and self-esteem, and, in turn, impact your job search.

Even if you don’t feel like it, try to make your exit a graceful one. It’s generally best to remain civil and keep in touch with your employer if possible. They can still provide you with an important reference, and you never know – they might be able to introduce or recommend you to some of their industry contacts.

6. Plan your finances

One of the first things that will probably run through your mind if you’ve been made redundant or think you might be made redundant, is how you will continue to support yourself financially.

Financial hardship is one of the biggest stressors we face in life. Therefore, it’s important to understand what help and support might be available to you so you can make a plan.

Calculate your redundancy pay

The first thing to establish is how much redundancy pay you will be entitled to so that you can plan for the future. There are two simple tests that you can use to check whether you’re entitled to redundancy pay.

  1. You need to be classed as an employee (check ACAS guidelines for more details on employee status).
  2. You need to have worked continuously for your employer for more than two years.

If these tests show that you do qualify for redundancy pay, then the amount you receive will depend on your employment contract, your age, and the length of time you have worked for your current employer.

For more information about redundancy pay, you can visit the relevant section of our redundancy guide or the Government website. Our redundancy guide also offers information about pay in lieu of notice, what to do if your employer goes bust, and what happens if you’re still owed holiday. We’ve linked these below…

Understand what benefits you might be entitled to

It can also help to find out what unemployment benefits you might be entitled to and how to go about claiming universal credit for the first time.

Make a budget and find ways to cut costs if you need to

It might sound obvious, but one of the most helpful things you can do when you find yourself without a job is to make a budget.

Start by working out how much money you will need to cover your monthly essentials and then set that amount aside. This should cover, for example, your rent or mortgage, utility bills, council tax, and any other debts, such as credit cards and/or personal loans.

If you need to cut down somewhere to make sure you can cover everything, take a good look at all your other outgoings. This includes things like television and magazine subscriptions. By making some sacrifices, you could help get yourself into a more comfortable financial position.

For tips on how to stay in control when you’re on a tight budget, take a look at this useful guide. Our articles on ways to raise emergency cash and Six ways to pile on the pounds in 2023 have plenty more tips too.

You might also be able to get help with credit card loans and other bills. Find out more in our article; Get help with your bills.

Help with debt

It’s easy for debts to get out of hand – especially if you’ve been made redundant. Our article, Serious debt: your options explained, has more details about your options if you find yourself unsure where to turn.

7. Consider what you want to do next

While it can be difficult to come to terms with your redundancy; once you’ve gotten over the initial shock, it can be helpful to start thinking ahead and preparing to find your next opportunity.

This part can be daunting, but it can also be exciting and offer hope. In time, many people see it as a chance to open up a new and interesting life chapter, with opportunities to try new things and meet new people. As the saying goes, when one door closes, another one opens.

Start by considering what other career paths or companies you might enjoy working for and make a list of your transferable skills – you might be surprised at quite how broad a skill set you already have.

If you’re considering your next career move, but are looking for a bit of inspiration then we also have a section of the site that is dedicated to job ideas and inspiration, with plenty of tips and advice on how to get started.

From working with animals to business ideas you can start from home – there are literally hundreds of different ideas to get you thinking creatively about your next move.

Alternatively, if redundancy has led you to think about retiring early and claiming your pension, there’s a section in our full redundancy guide that might help.

8. Focus on enhancing your employability

One of the best ways that you can prepare yourself for finding your next opportunity is to focus on creating a strong CV and cover letter, and building up as many relevant skills as you can – perhaps through volunteering – so that you can help yourself to stand out from the crowd.

You might also find it helpful to think creatively about how you can boost your income in the meantime. For example, considering whether you could start a side hustle from home.

Resources that might help to boost your employability…

9. Consider reading some uplifting stories about those who have been made redundant and come through the other side

Sometimes when we aren’t sure where to turn next, it can be inspiring to read some uplifting stories about other people who have been through similar situations and come through the other side.

Many of our members who have been made redundant or gone through exceptionally difficult times have gone on to learn something new, retrain in new jobs or careers, or even make an entirely new life for themselves that they now love.

Stephen’s story: retraining as a carer at 55

Christine’s story: getting a university degree after ending a long-term relationship and finding herself homeless

Cheryl’s story: becoming a Mortgage Advisor at 59

David’s story: setting up a catering business and training to be a counsellor in his early 50s

10. Ask for support if you need it

Losing a job or a career that you loved, or that was supporting you financially, can be incredibly painful to deal with. While it’s important to take practical steps, such as planning your finances and looking for new opportunities – it’s equally important to reach out for help if you need it.

This might mean reaching out to friends and family members and asking for support, either over the phone or in person.

Or, if you’re experiencing feelings of despair or hopelessness and you’re finding it tough to pick yourself back up, it’s worth getting in touch with your GP. 

You can also contact the Samaritans or Silver Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week if you need somewhere to turn quickly. You don’t have to struggle by yourself.

A final thought…

When you experience something as life-changing as redundancy, you might feel anxious about the future and wonder where to turn next.

But, try to remember that no matter how dark your days might seem now, things can change for the better – and there’s always hope on the horizon. In the meantime, try to be kind to yourself and remember to ask for help if you need it.