Coping with retrenchment is easy in theory. However, when the emotional reality hits you it can knock the stuffing out of you.
In South Africa where as professionals we are faced with monthly expenses such as medical aid, school fees and security, panic can set in.
Unexpectedly, retrenched professionals report that financial aspects of retrenchment are initially the least of their worries. Instead, they say, riding the rollercoaster of your emotions is what unravels you.
What is the Rollercoaster?
According to psychologists, being retrenched is similar to suffering bereavement or being diagnosed with a terminal illness. Emotionally, there are five stages in the process of dealing with such an event.
This is a temporary defense and may lead to thoughts such as “This can’t be happening to me. There must be some mistake.”
Once denial has passed, you may feel angry at your situation or people related to it. For example, you may think “It’s not fair. My colleague is far less valuable. S/he should have been retrenched instead.”
This is the horse-trading ‘if only’ stage. You may be thinking “If they just let me stay on at a reduced package, I’ll make it worth their while.”
Ultimately you have to accept the inevitability of the job loss and the interruption of your career. Your spirits will feel very low and you may become quite tearful.
Once you have got to the end of the process you begin to think “I’m not beaten. There are other employers out there with opportunities for me.”
How Long Is the Ride?
The time taken to process your emotions will vary. There are a number of factors that affect this, for example, how attached you were to your role, what you perceive to be your future prospects and so on.
Give yourself time. For some people it may be a matter of hours or days, for others it may be much longer.
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- We regret to advise that the comments section for this article has closed.
- You’ve Earned It/YEI is not the author of this article, written in 2012, and therefore is not in a position to advise on finance or retrenchment matters.
- If you are in need of retrenchment advice, we advise you to contact your HR Department for advice regarding early retirement and/or retrenchment matters.
- We further recommend that you contact a labour lawyer should you feel the need for independent advice on labour matters.