Redundancy: now what?

Written by Emma Barber

7th October 2020

a man carrying a brown bag

Allow me to re-coin that classic break-up line…“it’s not you, it’s me the job!”

This time it really is true – they haven’t just gone and found someone better and are too chicken to tell you. Redundancy is defined on the UK government website as action taken “when employers need to reduce their workforce”. Thanks to COVID, many more of us are becoming familiar with redundancy. It can be a real shock and, for your own sanity, you must remember that it’s not that YOU were redundant as a person, but rather that the job BECAME redundant. Write it on a post-it somewhere you will see it each morning. Say it out loud, right now. Never let go of this truth:

The job became redundant, I did not.

Once you weave this into your mental attitude, one of the hardest parts of redundancy will be easier – hanging onto your self-confidence. People always talk of the loss of confidence acting like a virus (and we all know how devastating a virus’s hold can be), damaging personal relationships, pushing mental health to the limits, and then the stress of finances…and…and…oh dear, the spiral is happening and everything feels bad and I can’t do it and… STOP RIGHT THERE!

See? It can happen quite easily. So what can you do in the face of redundancy (whether you want to be prepared for the possibility of it or whether it has happened already)?


Knowing your rights and the process ahead of you is really useful. It can help reassure you, give you direction, and ensure professional advice and support. Don’t let the fact that the COVID context means these services are going to be busier than normal stop you. Get in line – it will be worth the wait and you still have just as much right to legal help as before. In addition, with government advice and support changing on a quasi-daily basis, it’s always good to talk to someone whose job is to know exactly what is going on!

There’s also a lot of information online which, yes, can be overwhelming due to the sheer volume, so here are a couple of links to give you a good foothold and get you started:

For a clear overview of the basics, check out:

For impartial advice on redundancy:


One of the big stressors when the word “redundancy” rears its head is money. How will I pay the bills? The mortgage? What if I can’t support those who depend on me?

These are all important questions and, even though they are indeed stressful, you absolutely do need to keep asking them and start making the appropriate changes on your financial landscape. As with most things, the best practice is to be prepared BEFORE it all happens. Once again, the internet has been trawled for you and here are a couple of really strong websites that explain how you can manage financially in general as well as in the face of redundancy:

Money Saving Expert is fantastic at providing clear advice on how to prepare…:

…plus there are some income boosting tips which can be of great help when you’re struggling to make ends meet:

Money Advice Service has an online chat function in addition to lots of written advice if you want some extra support or direction:


That looming question, made of anxiety, fear, and uncertainty…now what?

With your daily routine gone, it’s time to establish your own daily, weekly and monthly plans and goals. This DOES NOT mean you work like a machine day in day out to achieve the goal of applying to 20 jobs a day whilst learning 5 new skills and training to run a marathon, all while never letting the worry get to you.


It means you need to make REALISTIC action plans. One of the things people quickly learn when they’ve been made redundant (or experience long-term unemployment) is that you cannot spend each and every day scouring every job site you come across. Try just 3-5 sessions a week, dedicating a morning or an afternoon to effective job selection, cover letter brainstorming and writing, and application. Even though it’s less time, it will yield much greater results.

With this method adopted, your daily plans now have more space for other, equally worthwhile, activities and practices. After a morning of job hunting, perhaps you could take some time for reading, meditation, art, socialising, or learning a new skill. All of these things, in their own way, will help you through this tough period before you find your new job/career/goal.

It won’t be easy every day – there may be days where every little task seems insurmountable and you just want to sit and mindlessly watch TV while drinking an excessive amount of tea and eating a, quite frankly, an alarming number of biscuits. That’s a valid way to feel. It’s hard, but if you can learn to witness your emotions, rather than “feel” them (as this can be overwhelming), you can act in a way that is much kinder to yourself. Think of it like a movie screen in your head, and your thoughts, feelings, imagined disaster scenarios etc. are all projected onto that screen. You are the viewer. If you see extreme emotions causing unrest, anxiety, and moments of depression, then it’s time to take care of yourself. That might mean a bath, a run, a cosy reading session, writing it all down, praying, meditating, talking about it with loved ones, or sometimes, just a little lie down with some of your favourite music on. Giving yourself this quality time to process your emotions (there’s going to be A LOT of them!) is one of the healthiest and most beneficial actions you can take.

It’s not all doom and gloom by the way! There are lots of stories out there where redundancy gave people the capital and time they needed to finally launch into their dream career/lifestyle. Analysts become Pilates instructors, store managers become stable managers, and marketing executives become performers. You just never know. And even if you don’t launch off into a completely new career, you might find yourself with a new perspective: tight times make you weigh up what really matters and stressful moments reveal how important the support of friends and family can be.

Finally, remember that redundancy is not new: when the Victorians used gas lamps to light the streets, there was someone whose job it was to go around lighting the street lamps in the evening, and then to snuff them out in the morning. When street lamps became electric, the job became redundant – it simply ceased to exist. This was no reflection on the person’s ability to do that job; the job just didn’t need to be done any more. Lamplighters soon found other work.

It may not be new, but it’s still tough, and it will be new to you in all likelihood. Be reasonable with what you expect from yourself, be sensitive to how you are feeling, and be kind to yourself. It will be harder to progress and remain balanced if you keep beating yourself up emotionally.

Just remember:

The job became redundant, I did not.

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