Redundancy: 19 Things You Need To Do

Redundancy: 19 things you should know
and do when made redundant

What if I told you that there are 19 things you need to know about how to survive redundancy?

Let’s face it: Redundancy happens …….

I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say:

Redundancy is one of life’s most stressful events.
Whenever you lose a job it’s often emotionally difficult
to handle. It is also much harder when you get older.

From my experience, there can be several important things you need to know and do before you see any benefits from your current job loss predicament

In this article, you will learn how to mentally survive the emotional shock of being made redundant using several practical tips which I have used over the years.

The good news is you will survive.……….

Though the time this journey can take varies for everyone. What I have always found interesting is that the HR people still believe that.

What is the difference between redundancy and retrenchment? 

In simple terms, your employer can make your position redundant when the duties of your position are no longer required to be done by anyone. Once the position in the organisation is made redundant, you being the person performing the duties in that role are more often than not made retrenched (lose your job and not be offered another in the organisation). (1)

Redundancy woman holding head with anger emotional anger

Often you never seem to have any control over this decision. It’s unsettling, with a range of emotions surging through you including:

  • anger
  • disappointment
  • disbelief
  • loss of confidence
  • the feeling of failure, loss, and
  • being overwhelmed with this changed situation

On rare occasions you could be thankful you have been unshackled to seize the opportunity you have been wanting to embark upon.

It doesn’t matter if it’s not how you foresaw your professional working relationship concluding. It forces you into a situation where you will have to accept change, make decisions, trust your intuition and look for opportunities. ….. Dawn of a new beginning.

The challenge for you now is
How mentally prepared, are you?

As everyone can be retrenched including YOU!

So how quickly and effectively will you be able to:

  • adapt to this change
  • survive the situation, and
  • how effortlessly will you be able to make this transition?

You probably have no idea how to begin handling this situation, so, in this post, I’m going to explain the 19 things you need to know about how you can survive your redundancy.

This is because I realized most of the information online deals with the legal and practical aspects surrounding redundancy and retrenchments. I couldn’t find practical information on how as an individual you should cope with the emotional and psychological impact of redundancy.

19 ways to deal with the emotional aftermath and the realities of losing your job 

Redundancy is becoming increasingly common and will continue to have an increasing impact upon individuals, families and the community. With many businesses moving to:

man hand flicking retrenched employee
  • Employers wanting to reduce costs through the reduction of their workforce
  • Restructuring of job roles – increasing the number of work tasks among fewer people
  • Closing departments and moving jobs offshore to take advantage of cheap labour costs
  • Increase use of office automation, technology, artificial intelligence, robotics and the digital disruptors which will replace many of the traditional job roles within organisations and
  • Business mergers due to competition

This combination of new and old factors which are the reality of the economy today will only increase the number of redundancies occurring over the next few years.

1. Know your employee rights

There are several laws relating to an employer which they are legally required to observe. It requires employers to consult with their employees (and their union), through a process called consultation, if they wish to dismiss 15 or more employees.

You will usually be entitled to severance pay, otherwise known as, a redundancy payout. You should be informed of the amount you will receive in writing during the consultation. It is important to note you may not receive a redundancy payout in every situation if you are employed by a small business or as a casual worker. The amount of your redundancy payout you’re entitled to will be calculated based on your length of continuous service, excluding any unpaid leave.

If you’ve been retrenched or made redundant and received a termination payment the Australian Government Department of Human Services website can provide useful information.

2. Remember your legal requirements

Once you are informed of your redundancy you may be tempted to share this information across various social media sites. Just remind yourself of any specific company policies relating to specific confidentiality agreements. Also, be guarded on how you phrase your views or criticism about your redundancy and those towards your employer. Your conduct may be the reason for dismissal and the redundancy payout you were hoping for could be forfeited.

You may be fortunate enough to receive a payout of several weeks or months from your employer. Think of this payout as a benefit to be used to assist you to financially survive until you find another role. So, resist your desire to spend this and take the time to work out a budget. You need to list all the essential expenses you are required to pay such as:

Employees checking their workplace rights on laptop

As an employee, you’re required by law to work out your redundancy notice period if your employer insists on it. You may take annual leave or sick leave as per your employment contract.

To obtain further information and free advice about your workplace rights and obligations go to the Australian Government Fair Work Ombudsman website. It also has a Notice and Redundancy Calculator to calculate entitlements when your employment is ended.

3. Accept assistance from your employer

Many organisations attempt to help their employees that are made redundant. The assistance may take the form of:

  • organising career counselling
  • information sessions by external providers on how to write job applications, update your CV
  • job search skills, or
  • some upskilling or re-training opportunities

Take advantage of any assistance that is offered.

Check with your employer if they are working with any other organisations that may recruit retrenched staff for their business or if it’s a contract take over. If this is the situation check if your current employer is going to provide a reference for you for the new employer. You should be offered the opportunity to take up any other comparable roles within the organisation if you are suitable.

4. Prepare a budget

  • mortgage or rent
  • utilities–water, gas and electricity
  • insurances
  • car or transport costs
  • food
Retrenched man planning budget

Remember, attempt to keep all the expenses to a minimum and consider how long you can survive on your payout by sticking meticulously to a tight budget. It is important to clarify if you would be entitled to any Centrelink (2) benefits. Usually, you are not entitled to any Government benefits for the period you have received any severance pay for or paid out annual leave. Don’t delay registering with Centrelink after your final day. Though you may not get immediate payment, you can get the paperwork process started.

The worst-case scenario after you cut back on all your expenditure is you may have to still consider downsizing as most income support through Newstart Allowance in Australia starts at a maximum of approximately $555.70 for a single person with no children. But this depends on a number of personal circumstances and savings.

5. Plan what you might do next

Even before you are formally informed of your impending job loss, it is the time to proactively consider what type of job or role you would like to aim for next.

You may have skills or qualifications in a specific area or industry which you have not been utilising, considering return back to a job not requiring as much commuting or work hours that would better suit your family or lifestyle.

6. Feeling of Loss

man-hands on face - question mark feeling emotional loss

It is strange but though we often complain or moaned about most things about work, from the hours, our colleague’s attitudes, workloads and unrealistic deadlines, you miss it. You often have a feeling of loss.  The loss of structured workdays, the banter in the workplace, a steady wage, paid sick days and holidays. A sense of jealousy towards those workmates that have kept their jobs sets in.

Though redundancy is more common than ever, it still takes an emotional toll. Your sense of work and a feeling of stigma whenever someone asks you “What do you do for work?” Though you may feel a sense of loss and shock, you need to discover how you can make the best of this freed up time in your life.

7. Talk with someone

It is best to associate with someone that has ideally been through a similar situation. These people can often relate and empathise with the emotions and feelings you are experiencing during this time. They can help you to put your feelings into perspective and not dismiss what you are experiencing.

Well-meaning people can often make the emotional impact of your redundancy worse.

 two men talking bout redundancy

They just don’t get it and seem to be dismissive of your feeling as they have never had to work through the circumstance you are now confronted with.

These people have a habit of saying things like:

  • “at least you have….”
  • “that’s bad luck mate”
  • “you’ll easily just pick up another job”
  • “so, have you got over it yet”

There is nothing more frustrating than people that are ignorant of the current competitive environment of the job search environment and the difficulty that this presents. I remember my elderly mother at one stage during one of my 11-month periods of unemployment continuously asking me every time I spoke to her “have you got a job yet”.

I understood that she was well-intentioned, but this infuriated me, and I often internalised this as “what is wrong with me”.  Trying to explain that the job I went for had over 342 applicants did not seem to register to her the challenges that I was facing.

8. Debrief and clear your Mind

You will need time to come to terms with and comprehend the impact of your own “Redundancy”. Though there may have been talk about the possibility of redundancies around the workplace, most of us hope it will not be us. When we are informed it’s us, many of us have the same reaction and that is of shock, disbelief with the inevitable question “why me”, “how can this happen”

A range of emotions will consume you. These are often more intense the more unexpected the redundancy is. I would suggest that many of us go through a range of similar feelings of loss and grief to varying degrees. The intensity of your feelings is contingent on how entrenched you have been in the organisation and associated with the position and career path.

man sitting on hill meditating to clear mind

The common range of emotions you will experience will include:

  • Disbelief
  • Shock
  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Loss
  • Depression, and
  • Acceptance

There is no prescribed time frame you need to adhere to. The time required to process your feelings is very individual. You will progress to the acceptance stage. This is when you realise what your redundancy provided you with. New opportunities and acceptance in moving into a new position or phase of life. It was the event you had to have!

Many people find it helpful to talk with someone about how they feel without being judged. This could be with your partner, a good friend or a professional.

9. Stay Calm

You need to stay calm and centred. Resist the temptation to partake in any destructive behaviour that would just exacerbate your current situation. Such behaviours can include

  • excessive drinking or drug taking
  • partaking in dangerous activities
  • plotting revenge
  • withdrawing from society, etc

You need to remind yourself that in most redundancy situations you could not have changed the outcome.  It usually has nothing to do with your skills or abilities, maybe your skills and abilities were a potential threat to more senior staff. Either way, the reality is you felt personally rejected and you need to look at strategies to remain calm and not undertake irrational, destructive behaviour or self-sabotaging activities you may regret.

10. Have self-respect

People rarely realise how much their job title seems to define them as an individual. Many of you whether you want to admit it or not are defined by your job title. It often defines how you perceive ourself, your belief in your own self-importance, a range of responsibilities, the status you have which you associate with your job title. It is something you believed you earned. Though this is only an illusion and reality is limited to the organisation you are employed at.

When you are made redundant, and you are categorised as unemployed you dwell on the title you once had.

You must remember that your job 
was what you did,
not who you are”.

You have to let go of the belief that your past job titled defined you as it can hinder you from moving forward.

Many people in their 50’s fear of losing respect, your perceived status and your social standing in the community that your position in the workforce provided. You don’t need to justify yourself worth. Your integrity, discipline and focus and your traits are more significant than the artificial titles bestowed upon you within an organisation. Substitute a hobby or interest to justify your own self-worth.

11. Re-center yourself

man looking out on trees focusing on mindfulness re-center

Take the opportunity after you are made redundant to clear your head and get yourself into the right headspace. Time is your best companion in this situation. You probably have heard the adage “it takes time”. Yes, it does but you need to find something you can focus upon to become centred again.

Many people find that doing what they enjoy such as a hobby or interest that they may have let slide due to lack of time. Whatever will help you clear your mind one day at a time. You need to focus your mind and energy on the tasks at hand, so you are not replaying those negative thoughts you have been harbouring in your mind about the earlier events that have transpired. Yes, the new term used now is mindfulness. Simply focusing your attention on the present moment will help you cope with the current situation and the tough times.

This will eventually get you into the right headspace, but you need to persevere, and it will not be easy.

12. Don’t try to hide the reality that you were made redundant

Redundancies are a daily occurrence for many people throughout the workforce. So, you should not be ashamed that this occurred to you. It is common, and it will, unfortunately, continue to become the norm for many people throughout their working life.

Avoid placing negative emotional tags to your redundancy such as feelings of

  • humiliation
  • shame
  • disgrace, or
  • embarrassment

as these make the healing process more challenging.

Accept it and don’t be afraid to tell people you are “seeking new opportunities”. Also, ask for advice and support as many people often want to help. Organise coffee catch-ups and stay in regular contact through phone, email or text.

13. Purge the past

Remember, it’s completely normal to feel you want to hibernate and hideout. You may just want to withdraw and lick your wounds, sulk, fume or fictitiously plot your ex-employers painful demise.

One suggested cathartic method to overcome these feelings was to write about how you felt about the company, people and the role. To undertake this process, you can include:

man writing thoughts in diary
  • what you liked
  • what you hated
  • things that frustrated you
  • what you missed about the job, and
  • what you loved and enjoyed about your work and position.

This may take time and it will offer you an insight into “who you were in that job role”.  When you believe you are finished writing down everything you can stop. Make a conscious effort that when you have finished your writings, you will have purged the past. Remember, you should NOT email any of your writings, they are for your eyes only.

This exercise aims to provide you with psychological relief through the expression of your strong emotions, causing you to have a cathartic moment. This can take time for you to work at it as your emotional response to redundancy is unique to you.  Some people have more difficulty handling the mental aspect and find it much more challenging. This often depends on the circumstance leading up to your redundancy.

When you’re ready

If you find you are struggling with moving on or it’s taking an excessive amount of time, it’s always prudent to seek support. This can include talking with a close friend or engaging the services of a professional.

When you are ready, then it’s your time to move forward to the new opportunities that await you – whatever that may be. Your next role may not be obvious to you at the moment, but you cannot move forward until you have purged your past.

14. Redundancy can be an opportune time to reassess

Some people find redundancy provides an opportunity to have a timeout. This allows them to be reminded of what their priorities in life are. Even with looming financial issues such as a mortgage, many people express feelings of being-

female re-potting plants during timeout
  • suffocated
  • becoming brain dead, or just
  • surviving in the job.

This was until retrenchment forced them to re-evaluate what is important in their life.

Many people realised that their redundancy provided them with the opportunity to consider a

  • career change, or
  • start up a business venture, and
  • pursue something they always wanted to do!

They have even stated that they now have the time to reconnect with the family they never realised they were neglecting or participate in a hobby. As they were so busy spending an inordinate amount of time working and chasing a corporate career path.

Redundancy can give you the opportunity to focus on something that provides you with real satisfaction.

15. Get serious about your career marketing – it’s important

Consider letting everyone know that you are looking for a position. Start with updating your resume through to contacting your network. Make sure you inform them that if they hear of any job prospects have them pointed in your direction.

Research on how to update your resume in the format that HR consultants are looking for. Make sure you have your updated resume on the job search sites that highlight your skills and potential for any future employers.

Are you aware that many recruitment agencies rely on automated computer software to pre-filter your resume known as Applicant Tracking System (ATS).  The ATS scans through your application and is only viewed by humans if the system matches the resume to the job ad. Research what you need to consider such as inserting keywords to make your resume robot friendly.

Job search sites available:

You will need to acquaint yourself with the job search sites available such as:

  • Seek, is Australia’s number one job search site as you can choose from thousands of jobs across the country. You can find jobs by location, classification, and salary. Almost 3 out of 4 Australians use it when searching for a job. Seek also provides resume storage, application tracking, online training, and career advice.
  • gov.au is the government website which offers jobs from Australia’s public service sector. If you want to work for any of the federal government agencies, this site is for you. You can sign up for job alerts and save job ads to apply for later.
  • CareerOne provides thousands of general jobs, plus company profiles, career advice, job hunting tips, employment updates, online courses, and support in structuring and writing resumes.
  • Job Search is another government website for job seekers. You can search for short-term or contract work, part-time or full-time positions, and local government jobs. The site also offers information on how to find training and employment services programs, occupation and industry statistics, and job application tips.
  • Other sites include Indeed, Alljobs, etc

Individual recruiting agencies are a great source of information and job listings like Hays Recruiting, Randstad, Adecco or Kelly Services, etc. It’s a good idea to consider what options there are for your future.


To obtain the job you desire you must make sure you get the attention of the recruiters to enable you to be selected for an interview. If you don’t achieve this your chance of being hired is nil.

Remember, the reality is not good for many people that find themselves over 50 and unemployed in later in life. Discover what the unemployment rates are for older workers over 50.

Don’t undersell yourself, highlight your accomplishments and promote them.  Research the questions that many recruiters and employers ask and prepare your answers. Your responses to their questions must highlight your achievements, together with why you would be:

  • an asset to the organisation or
  • be able to solve particular issues.

Good prior preparation prevents poor performance through your job search campaign.

16. Research the latest job search strategies and interview techniques

man sitting typing resume on laptop

Everything evolves in the world of work. Emailing your resume to two employers and recruitment agencies and expecting a response are long gone. Consider the alternative avenues that may help in your job search quest.

Besides networking with your friends and acquaintances by phone or text, social media sites are good options. Ensure you embrace LinkedIn as it is known to be the best social media site to go to if you’re looking for white-collar jobs and senior management roles.

About 1 in 4 Australians are registered members of LinkedIn. (3) You create a public or private resume or connect with employers and recruiters. Your job searches become tailored to you. You can follow certain companies to stay updated on what positions they have available. LinkedIn is also a fantastic way to keep in touch with former colleagues, and network.

It may feel like a new world but research, becoming familiar with and embracing the different terms and methods is important. Such as the concept of social branding and different social media opportunities for self-promotion which are now part of today’s job search market.

17. Stay disciplined with your job search and don’t get side-tracked

Gaining another job often can take time. It is important that you organise a routine to schedule your job searching activities, application writing, and networking into your day.

Self-discipline and a routine are essential to have but not at the expense of neglecting yourself, or your family. Think of your job searching activities as your “work hours”.

You need to be mentally resilient to handle the rejections that inevitably occur. Each job rejection has an impact on your self-esteem and confidence. This can have a cumulative negative effect on your mental outlook as time passes without gaining employment.

So, make time for self-care through:

  • exercise
  • healthy mindfulness activities, or other
  • positive activities that you are interested in

Complete those home renovation or projects you have been putting off but not at the expense of job searching. It is important to maintain mental toughness.

18. Avoid retreating and hiding out – do something different

Man thinking of learning new skill on -line

For some people, losing their job will make them want to withdraw from life, people, and former work colleagues. They may physically shut themselves away at home or escape into a virtual world of electronic gaming. This is the worst thing you can do.

So, as you are already out of your comfort zone and in uncharted territory for the first time in your life take full advantage and try something new.

The activity does not have to cost you much such as undertaking a course which could be:

  • career-related in up-skilling
  • learning a new skill for a career change, or
  • something just for your own self-interest

It could be on how to use advanced formulas in Excel, a new language or whatever you have been curious about. You may have been wanting to do this or a long time, but never had the time to pursue…….. Have a look at what’s available.

Providers offering free courses

Below is a selection of course providers that offer a range of courses and many are free.

  • The Good Universities Guide Universities from around the world have included their courses on this major MOOC platforms. These are available to anyone that wants to take the online course.
  • Open2Study provides free, specialised short courses, online and across the world, in a range of subject areas.
  • Khan Academy This website has a variety of video lessons for free. The courses are broken down into small specific subject lessons, which is great for people returning back into education.
  • Udemy is an online institution that offers a range of courses taught by industry experts. There is detailed information about the course, the instructor, along with student feedback. In the review area, you can read past student ratings and opinions of the course.
  • Coursera This is one of the largest website databases for University open courseware. Like EdX, these courses are at a set time (lasting for 10-14 weeks). You can access classes from 16 different Universities’ including Princeton, Duke, Stanford, and CalTech.
  • Other providers include Open Learning, MITOpenCourseware, and Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative

Every new experience or activity you try may reveal something about your abilities, your interests or maybe the spark you were waiting for.

19. Consider early retirement – make the best of the situation 

Redundancy, especially later in life will certainly throw a spanner into your well-laid retirement plans. A study by retirement consulting firm Mercer revealed 40% of Australians are forced into retirement due to redundancy or illness before they are financially ready. (4)

For some people later life redundancy will mean a forced early retirement. You may have to rethink and re-frame the way you view your retirement years. As you will have to adapt to the changed situation together with a more flexible outlook towards the future.

male financial planner in office giving superannuation advice

Consider seeking professional advice in discovering the legal ways to withdraw your super benefits early. This will depend on several factors including your age and the various conditions of release under the superannuation rules which include:

  • starting your transition-to-retirement
  • severe financial hardship
  • compassionate grounds, and
  • permanent disability or incapacity

A major life change like forced retirement due to redundancy can create a huge window of opportunity to make positive lifestyle changes.

In conclusion

When you’re occupied with your work, you rarely think about how much it defines your identity until it’s taken away through redundancy.

As discussed being made redundant can be the catalyst either for a crisis in your confidence, bitterness, hurt, confusion, anxiety, anger and for some people debilitating mental anguish.

Whilst for others redundancy may be viewed as a positive experience with emotions of relief and even maybe (one day) gratitude. As with many of life’s events, this will be a challenging period in your life in coping with this transition.

Finally, be kind to yourself and remember with the right actions, support, and mindset you’ll move forward from your redundancy along a new path with different opportunities.


  1. Business Victoria, How to deal with redundancy and retrenchment: Avoid unfair dismissal and help your business through change. http://www.business.vic.gov.au/hiring-and-managing-staff/ending-employment/genuine-redundancy-pay-redundancy
  2. Centrelink payment and services – A list of Centrelink payments and services available from the Department of Human Services.
  3. Social Media Statistics Australia – January 2018 – David Cowling on February 1, 2018. SocialMediaNews.com.au
  4. http://www.mercer.com.au/content/dam/mercer/attachments/asia-pacific/australia/News/Mercer-Superannuation-Sentiment-Index-Feb-2013.pdf

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Redundancy and Retrenchment?

Redundancy and retrenchment are different terms that most people get confused with. You are made Redundant when your job role is no longer required to be performed and you may receive a redundancy payout. Whilst Retrenchment targets people you lose your job role and cannot be re deployed as no other suitable job exists in the company.

How to best cope with Redundancy ?

Redundancy is becoming increasingly common and will continue to have a major impact upon people’s lives. Most information available covers the legal and practical aspects but not how to emotionally deal with redundancy. But it is vitally important that you learn how to cope with the emotional and psychological impact redundancy will have on you. There are a number of practical and useful steps you can take to adapt to this change.

What are the most common emotions you’ll experience after being made Redundant?

For some individuals they may be thankful for the redundancy to seize the opportunity to pursue a new career direction.
However, most people experience a range of emotions including:
– anger
– disappointment
– disbelief
– loss of confidence
– the feeling of failure, loss, and
– being overwhelmed with this changed situation

Have you ever been made redundant?

  • Been affected by redundancy or are you facing this situation now?
  • What steps did you take to face this challenge?

Share your experiences in how you coped in the comments section below.

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