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With reports of lawyers and support staff alike facing redundancy at firms across the country in the wake of the C-19 pandemic, what can you do to minimise the negative impact of redundancy on your confidence and future prospects if you’re one of the people impacted? Obelisk Support spoke to HR expert Lisa Harley, Company Director & HR Consultant at Harley HR, to find out more.

Follow the process

In the UK, making more than 20 people redundant within a 90-day period triggers a process known as collective consultation, which has to last for at least 30 days before any member of staff leaves the business (45 days if over 100 people are affected). Whilst this places extra responsibilities on the employer and offers some protection to employees, being involved in the process, with the attendant stress and uncertainty, can impact on your mental health.Make sure you understand what your employer is proposing, what the milestone dates for key activities and decisions are and when the process is expected to conclude. If you are keen to stay with your employer, make sure you are aware of alternative roles that may be on offer if yours is at risk and what will be involved in any assessment and selection processes. Remember your role is being made redundant, this is not necessarily a reflection on you and your abilities. Lisa explains, “The decision to make you redundant is not personal, and in the current climate is unlikely to be a reflection of your performance. Decisions about redundancy are never taken lightly and arise from the health, or lack thereof, of an organisation´s balance sheet.”

Look after your mental health

Going through a redundancy can be extremely stressful, even if you are actually happy to be moving on. To protect your mental health and avoid dwelling on negatives and uncertainties, Lisa recommends that you focus on areas you can control, such as developing a positive mental attitude. “Turning a negative situation into a positive one is not always easy but remember this is an opportunity and is not the end of the world. Draw on your resilience and remember that resilience is something that can be learned. Understand that suffering is part of life for all humans, and everyone goes through it. Tune into the good into your life, however small. Ask yourself if what you are thinking and doing is good for you, or harming you.”This can also be an extremely lonely time, especially if you are leaving colleagues that you are close to or if you are having to make others redundant as well as being made redundant yourself. Tap into all the resources your employer makes available to support you, such as outplacement and employee advice programmes, and make a conscious effort to ask for support from family or friends.

…and your finances

Of course losing your income unexpectedly is the core concern for most people. Review all your financial commitments to work out if there are any areas you can cut back if you need to. Again, take advantage of any support your current employer might offer in terms of financial advice and tap into services such as Stepchange or Debtline who can advise you on the best way to manage debts or unforeseen expenses.

Take the opportunity to rethink your working life

Depending on where you are in your career and your time in your current role, it may’ve been some time since you consciously thought about what’s next. Lisa advises, “Don’t give into the temptation to immediately commence your job search and apply to every single vacancy you can find. While securing paid employment is a priority, this is also an ideal time to assess where you want your career to go next – particularly if you are considering a career change. You will be much more successful with your applications if you choose a considered approach.” Seize the opportunity to give yourself some time to think about what you enjoy about what you’re doing at the moment and what you’d like to change.

Research all your options

Once you know you’re definitely going to be leaving your current employer, make sure you explore all the other options that are out there. Your next move might be to a similar role with another employer or you might want to consider:

  • Freelance work. Offering greater flexibility and control over your hours than a traditional legal role, working as a freelance legal consultant can be a great long-term option or a way to keep working while you think about what’s next. Our e-book can help you explore further and work out if this is the right next step for you.
  • Changing direction. Explore alternative sectors or roles by tapping into your network for advice, reading vacancy adverts online or consider working with a career coach.
  • Going back into education. This could take you in another direction entirely or give you the opportunity to build skills that compliment your legal expertise and make you more employable as the legal industry evolves, for example project management, financial/business strategy or technology qualifications.
  • Setting up your own business. As Lisa points out, some of the world’s most successful businesses have been set up during periods of economic uncertainty or recessions. This may be the springboard you need to start out on your own.

Look ahead

Going through redundancy can be difficult, but it is a process and you will get through it. As Lisa says, “If we look within, we will find that we have strength and stamina which we now need to rely on more than ever. Adaptability and imagination are also helpful in designing our future work lives. When we are able to adapt, as we have done throughout history, we can overcome any obstacle which may come our way.”

This article is for information only and should not be taken as a substitute for seeking professional advice.

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