10 steps to help you through redundancy

Coping with redundancy can be difficult at the best of times – let alone during a global pandemic, when it’s difficult to predict when normal life will resume. It’s important to remember that whether you’re feeling sad, shocked, angry, frustrated or something else entirely; your feelings are completely valid. There is 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, then it’s important to give yourself some time to come to terms with the situation.

When we lose something that is really important to us, it’s normal to enter a grieving period – which is usually your brain’s way of trying to understand and make sense of your loss. This process usually isn’t linear and can take you on a rollercoaster of emotions. During this time, it’s important that you acknowledge your feelings and work through them, rather than trying to suppress them. As this can halt the recovery process and prevent you from moving forward. If you are experiencing shock or grief and would like to find out more about the steps you can take to help you through, then consider reading our article on Coping with grief and loss.

2. Try not to panic

It’s completely normal to experience shock at losing your job but it’s important to avoid letting feelings of panic take over. Panicking affects our ability to think clearly and to plan forward, and can make the situation feel even worse. If you’re finding it hard not to panic, then there are a few helpful breathing exercises that you could try that might help you to feel calmer. Some people also find it helpful to practice mindfulness. While this might not be for everyone; many people say that by bringing their mind back to the present moment (and not ruminating about the future), they are able to find some peace. You can also try undertaking a range of everyday activities that will help keep your mind focused on the present. You can find more information about these activities, here.

3. Don’t be afraid to negotiate with your employer

When your employer approaches you to inform you about your redundancy, don’t be afraid to bargain with them if it will 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 top up your redundancy entitlement to help keep you afloat. Even if your employer can’t afford to offer anything of financial benefit, your boss might agree to write you a glowing reference, a LinkedIn recommendation or be able 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 will 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 are failing to uphold their end of the bargain, then the Acas, Citizens Advice and Government websites can give you more information about your entitlement, and about help and support that the government is putting in place to support businesses and employees.

You might also find it helpful 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

The pandemic has made life difficult for almost everyone, including for a lot of employers, and just as you might be finding it difficult to accept your redundancy – it can also be 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 is now asking you to leave. But, try your best not to take it personally, as this can affect your own confidence and self-esteem, and negatively affect you when you go in search of your next opportunity.

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

6. Plan your finances

One of the first things that will probably have 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 that we face in life, so 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 2 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 visit 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.

Sections of the Rest Less redundancy guide that you might find helpful…

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.

Find ways to cut costs

It might also be helpful to start thinking about other ways that you could save money  while you consider your next move. Our practical guide on 10 ways to cut costs offers some suggestions for ways to cut costs quickly.

Banks are also offering people mortgage payment holidays to help reduce the financial stress if they lose their income due to coronavirus – you can read our guide to taking a mortgage payment holiday here. You might be able to get help with credit card loans and other bills too. Find out more in our article Get help with your bills.

You may also be interested in our articles on ways to raise emergency cash and Six ways to pile on the pounds in 2020.

Make a budget

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. Once you’ve done this, you should have a clearer picture of how much money you have to spend on areas such as your weekly food shop. If you need to cut some corners, take a hard look at all your other outgoings. This includes things like television and magazine subscriptions. By making some sacrifices, you could help get yourself in a more comfortable position financially.

For tips on how to stay in control when you’re on a tight budget, take a look at this useful guide.

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 will explain more 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. It can help to make a list of your transferable skills and you may be surprised at quite how broad a skill set you already have that could be applicable to any number of roles and industries.

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

Or if redundancy has led you to think about whether you should retire early and claim your pension, then there’s a section in our full redundancy guide that might help.

8. Focus on enhancing your employability

The job market is not functioning normally at the moment. Many companies are reducing their workforce, whilst others are shutting up shop for good. However, some companies are still hiring, and there are jobs out there – even if there are less than usual right now.

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 the ways in which you can boost your income in the meantime, for example, considering whether you could start a side hustle from home.

Resources that might help…

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 helpful 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. Although social distancing rules still apply, your friends or family members will still want to support you from the other end of the phone. Now that lockdown restrictions have eased, it might also help to meet up with a trusted friend or family member outdoors.

If you’re experiencing feelings of despair or hopelessness and you’re finding it tough to pick yourself back up – then it’s worth getting in touch with your GP. Whilst they aren’t seeing people in person at the moment, they can still advise you over the phone of any help that might be available to you. 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 have a lot of anxious thoughts about the future and wonder where on earth you’re supposed to turn next.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that however dark your days might seem now, there will always be a better day. In the meantime, be kind to yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

Have you been made redundant? Do you have any additional coping strategies or an uplifting story that you would like to share? Email us at [email protected] or leave a comment below.

Links with an * by them are affiliate links which help Rest Less stay free to use as they can result in a payment or benefit to us. You can read more on how we make money here.


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