Today, in a change to my normal cheerful topic of chit-chat which is of course adoptive parenting and, well, generally the kids mucking about, I would like to talk about the dreadful taboo that is redundancy. It’s something that I’m experiencing at the moment, and despite being such an enormous issue, it’s rarely discussed openly.
I am no expert, but in essence the redundancy process expects an employee (that’s me) to wait for a whole month to find out whether or not they’re getting the proverbial boot. It’s impersonal and un-apologetically vague and nobody is clear whether or not they are allowed to discuss it. I’m not even sure whether or not I should be talking about this, but I haven’t found any first-hand accounts of actual people talking about their redundancy experience and I like to write so here we are. I’m not sure who I should blame for this awful process; whether it’s the government; distant, far removed from the real people in the country’s offices and factories, or the struggling employer; trying desperately to negotiate their difficulties whilst avoiding a nasty court battle. One thing I do know for sure, after experiencing the process first hand, is that the redundancy process is definitely not designed to offer any comfort to the employee. Something that I find terribly unethical.
My employer have been wonderful to me; eight years of personal development, encouragement, flexibility and generally a marvellous team of tea-drinkers to spend my ups-and-downs with. People who I genuinely describe as my best friends. Which, when I think about this awful situation only makes things worse; consequently I find myself sincerely worried about the business and the lives of the fantastic people operating it.
Anyway, here I go. Redundanexit.
In my case, the grievous announcement arrived during what began as a fairly positive December company briefing, with a sprinkling of optimism for the future of the company for the lucky few unnamed survivors. I refer to the survivors as the ‘Redundamainers’, and by the way this is all Brexit’s fault, apparently.
Once the tears had settled and a gallon of tea had been sipped, the announcement was followed by a series of wordy, speculative emails. A baffled colleague said that she’d asked her partner to read one of the redundancy emails, only to find that he also couldn’t deduce anything useful from it whatsoever; it was just a series of complicated statements. Then, no communication for while, until after a couple of weeks, a revised company structure was circulated around the office, providing a quick shimmer of reality, containing a list of roles that would (possibly) be available after the cutbacks; from which employees speculated whether their job might still exist or not. Then, a vague, inconclusive letter arrived in the post which in my case popped through the letter box along with a pile of lovely Christmas cards on Christmas eve (shortly after an email to confirm that despite a refreshingly optimistic rumour, we will not be having Christmas eve afternoon off, thank you very much indeed) confirming that nothing will be confirmed until after Christmas. 🤷
To make matters somehow worse, a panel of employees were nominated to get together and debate about the Redundamainers which resulted in a leaked, vague email containing a list of names. Like last year’s leaked Sugababes album, nobody was sure who had it or whether we were allowed to find it. Somebody asked me whether or not I was on the list – I asked a friend within the panel but they were unable to tell me until much later.
Incidentally by this stage I’d come to terms with the idea that I was going to take my statutory redundancy pay and become a fabulous self-employed writer in the new year, so I paid no attention. When I finally sneaked a look at the list of Redundamainers, my name didn’t appear on the list. Never-the-less I was determined not to get upset. So, I shrugged, got up and made a round of tea.
Every piece of protracted correspondence alluded to the idea that redundancies were a last-resort and every attempt will be made to avoid them. At no time did anyone or anything transparently say – ‘you are likely to be made redundant’, or ‘you are likely to keep your job’. Roles are mentioned, not people, or jobs. This part of the process is ironically described as ‘The Consultation’. Although if I were responsible for renaming it I would probably call it the ‘The not-being Consulted’.
In conclusion, my opinion (for what it’s worth, which incidentally is diddly-squat) is that the redundancy process needs a good old-fashioned review, in favour of employees. Nobody should be expected to spend Christmas wondering whether or not they will have a job in the new year. Information, intentions, names and possible outcomes should be available, readily, to enable an employee to plan ahead and come to terms with everything.
So, what happens next? For me, after a wonderful Christmas with my fiancé, our kids and our cheerful extended family (full of plentiful good advice and a positive outlook), I have now been given the bad, or well, inevitable news that I am indeed being made redundant. Naturally I’m much happier now that I’ve been provided with a clear, concise decision to enable me to move on.
So it’s onward, and definitely upward in 2017.
And, guess what… I’ve only gone and bagged my first commercial freelance writing project!
Here's my website - www.jamiebeaglehole.co.uk.
Get in touch if you'd like to hire me!