Dealing with bad news is hard. Unexpected news is hardest of all. So getting my redundancy notice this week was not – at least for me – the source of deep despair that it might have been. But I’m lucky. I have many years of service in and will have a little fund to keep the wolf from the door. My notice period is also six months.
All of this helps me. But, as I say, I’m lucky. Many colleagues have but a few years service and much, much shorter notice periods. So I know they are nowhere near as relaxed as I am just now.
Some colleagues asked me what the letter actually said. So I showed them. They were surprised that it only contained a brief, impersonal thank you for ‘your contribution’ right at the end. But I suppose that’s the nature of forced goodbyes. I can not imagine that John sent Paul a note during the Beatles’ split to say thanks for all the help on Revolver.
What counts from now is how to use the opportunity our family has to think about what we want from our lives. For me, it’s been a process of thinking about what I’m good at – not just at work – and what I enjoy most. You spend too much time working to want to be unhappy if you can possibly help it. I started though with thinking about the things that were most important to me right now and narrowed these down to a list of five.
Family: There’s nothing like being shown the door to help you get your work/life balance into perspective. Mrs RedundantPublicServant has been particularly quick to point out that years of long hours, daft deadlines, near-impossible tasks and moving us around the country had not apparently done us much good. And my redundancy has hit my family hard emotionally. You don’t realise what a dominant force your job becomes until you try to imagine a world without it. In thinking about a possible future for me I’m going to be putting the needs of my family first.
Fun: I’ve enjoyed the people most of all during my career. We have had fun. In the most difficult of times and doing the hardest sort of work there’s always been the wit, good humour and sheer energy of my colleagues to rely on. There’s been variety too in the work. So I’m looking for something that replicates this sort of environment.
Self-worth: Redundancy does nothing for how you feel and think about yourself. In my case I’m a casualty of a change in government policy but that hasn’t stopped me from wondering if I was part of the problem that caused the change. Statements about my organisation and other areas of public service have also been hard to hear most especially when the criticisms have some basis. So I’m after something that can give me a chance to show what I can do.
Achievement: I was recruited into an organisation with a strong task and delivery focus. It’s not surprising then that I like being able to tick things off. But more than that it’s not only a question of doing but more importantly one of achieving. Pulling together my CV in its many forms has helped me reflect on stuff that I can point to that wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for me. I always remember my mother being able to point to bits of the landscape at home that our family had created. It’s the same sort of feeling that I’m after now.
Money: I was surprised to get this into my list. I’ve been lucky enough not to have to worry too much about money for a few years. But I suppose that contemplating not having a job makes you think about the sort of family income you need to fund the lifestyle you want. In my case I’m now looking for opportunities at a lot less pay than I’m on now if they satisfy my aspirations.
For me the arrival of my, ‘please sod off with all due dispatch,’ letter was not the earthquake I expected it to be. But there’s still so much to do to get me and my family through this.