How to cope with retrenchment

2015-11-01 15:05

Johannesburg - A total of 161 000 more people lost their jobs in the second quarter of this year compared with the same period last year (according to Stats SA’s latest quarterly employment survey). This is largely due to retrenchments by South African companies.

In the current economic climate, many businesses are constrained in terms of their growth and often need to reduce their expenses in various ways.

With salaries being a constant drain on the gross income companies make, cutting down on the size of the workforce can ease this financial burden for companies battling to turn in a decent profit due to economic circumstances.

Though a company may cut down on some of its costs by retrenching staff, by doing this it is slashing an employee’s income completely.

This is worsened when you consider that every working person in South Africa supports him- or herself and an average of three people.

Retrenchments can also have adverse physical health and psychological consequences for those who lose their jobs.

On top of that, losing your job brings with it a process of grief. It affects your self-identity and, as a result, your self-esteem – just think about how often we find ourselves asking someone what it is they do as a way to find out more about them. For many people, their job is a way to describe themselves and is a measure of their self-worth.

Companies in the process of retrenchment can also help by identifying possible alternative employment opportunities and giving you time off to go to interviews and talk to potential employers.

They could also offer some form of professional counselling.

Unfortunately, retrenchments are a reality, but you don’t have to let it get you down.

Get out there and find yourself a great new job.

*Vittee is CEO of Quest Staffing Solutions

What you can do to get back into the job pool

Even if the company has made its circumstances clear to employees, it is natural for you to have feelings of resentment towards the employer, as well as feelings of jealousy towards employees who have not been retrenched.

However, it is important for you to move on and get back into the workplace as soon as possible.

The longer someone is without work, the harder it is for them to find employment.

It is vital not to waste any time or wait for your retrenchment package to run out before making a concerted effort to seek new employment opportunities.

Instead, you should apply for as many jobs for which you have the required skills, education and experience as possible.

Firstly, approach your employer for a reference, which should include the reason for your retrenchment, while also highlighting the value and skills you contributed to the organisation during your time of employment.

It is also important to redesign and update your CV and learn how to search for jobs on job portals and through job agencies.

Jobseekers should submit their CVs to reputable staffing and recruitment companies.

Lastly, after being employed for a long period of time, you should learn how to prepare for job interviews again.

Not only should you know the types of interviews you may
need to prepare for, but you should also practise using realistic interview questions and seek the necessary guidance on how to dress for an interview and how to research a company before going for a job interview.

It is crucially important for you to know the dos and don’ts in this regard.

Your seven-tip action plan 

- Be honest about your retrenchment with those around you;

- Don’t waste time questioning why you, and not someone else, was retrenched;

- Don’t blame yourself;

- Use this opportunity to enhance your skills. If finances allow, why not register for a course or trade. Alternatively, volunteer your services in areas where you may be able to learn a new skill;

- Get your CV up to date as soon as possible. The longer someone is without work, the harder it is for them to find employment;

- Apply for as many jobs for which you have the required skills as possible;

- Get a reference from the company that retrenched you that describes its reasons for retrenchment and ask it to highlight the value you added to the organisation.

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