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Threat of Redundancy Took Away My Confidence: A Case Study

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 7 Jun 2016 | comments*Discuss
Redundancy Threat Redundant Company

It is well documented how redundancy can shatter your confidence, but what about that low-level continuous stress that comes with the threat of redundancy?

This is the situation that Heather Cooper found herself in when the global recession started to take hold. Working in the automotive industry, Heather was acutely aware of the downturn.

She told us, “There was so much information on the news every night that I was so aware of the problem, not to mention the fact that, as fleet administrator in a car manufacturers, I could tell that orders were considerably down. It wasn’t helped that all my friends and family kept asking about my job and how safe it was, because they were watching the news too! I know they were only trying to help, but I felt like I couldn’t get away from the problem at work or at home.”

Keeping Staff in the Dark

Heather found that the most damaging aspect of the situation was that no senior management at her company were talking to staff about how the global downturn was affecting their business. This meant that all the staff were talking among themselves, making matters worse.

Heather explained, “We all knew what was happening in the company, with the lack of orders, but no one was saying anything official, which meant that the gossip in the office was terrible. If anyone had a day off, it would go round that they had been made redundant and no one felt able to take a day off sick, or book any holiday. It was a really bad atmosphere. I was really disappointed with how the management chose to handle the situation.”

Ultimately, it was this bad atmosphere that made Heather decide to change her career direction. Rather than continue to work at the car manufacturers under the cloud of possible redundancy and then try to find work, Heather decided to take control of the situation.

She continued, “It was clear that the automotive industry was not going to enjoy another boom time for a while, especially not the company I worked for, so rather than keep trudging into work and feeling worse and worse, I decided to look for other work. I didn’t breathe a word to any of my colleagues because I knew that it would get gossiped about and potentially mark me out for redundancy sooner.”

A Positive Change

Heather’s health was beginning to suffer as she was finding it hard to sleep and she had taken to comfort-eating, making her put on weight, which was not helping her confidence. Heather felt better almost as soon as she had made the decision to leave of her own accord, rather than waiting around for information that was not forthcoming.

Heather concluded, “Waiting to inevitably be made redundant is not the best way to feel good about yourself, especially as everyone around you reminds you of the situation. I knew that if I stayed and then was made redundant further down the line, my confidence would be so low that any new employer wouldn’t want to hire me anyway. I am so pleased that I decided to leave, especially as I found a new position in the IT training field that uses my skills but is less affected by the recession.”

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I have a medical condition which has caused me lower back pain and problems for 29 years now (I am a blue parking badge holder). My employer (a large NHS organisation) originally arranged workplace adaptations, e.g. a curved desk, to minimise the movements I have to make throughout the day, which really helped. The office has now moved to a location almost 20 miles away from our original office, which causes me more pain already due to the 40 mile round trip every day but that aside we have now all had our desks removed and a row of straight desks put in (as it is more pleasing to the eye and gives more room). The curved desks allowed less room I agree, but it was still within the health and safety limits. After a short time of working at this desk, with my files all behind me, I am having severe problems with pain and mobility and have needed to take time away from work. I am now very concerned that the same is going to happen once I am up to returning. My manager has had to arrange for an occupational Health expert to see me while I am away, due to a work policy directive. However, last time I needed to attend OH my Manager ignored the recommendations, saying he doesn't agree with the way OH works and that they are always on the employees side! I also have a workplace assessment arranged with 'Health & Safety guy' at work on my return, but he was the one who agreed with my Manager that straight desks would be best in the office for eveyone. I am really worried about my return to work now as too much strain on my back could have pretty dire consequences. I have worked there for 4 years now, oh and my union rep is no use at all as he is good friends with the Manager and has known him for over 20 years, he has not helped any of our team of staff once with anything. Could anyone please advise me?
Misty - 7-Jun-16 @ 3:11 PM
@willo - there is no reason why you can't look or leave to take another job, while on probation. However, I think in this instance you might be better giving Acas a call to see whether your employer has the right to withhold your reference. See link here. I hope this helps.
WorkingRights - 24-Apr-15 @ 11:42 AM
I am a tier 2 visa holder, I am almost the end of my probation but not very happy with the work conditions and also worried that my career will stagnant in my current role. I have since applied and gotten a new job, but my current bosses seem not happy that I have to leave (though I have not notified them yet). - is it illegal to change jobs while still on probation with one employer? - my manager has also refused to give me a reference. is it possible that he can refuse to do so even without a valid reason, just because he is disappointed that I have to leave? - my manager has also threatened to cancel my contract because of the new job offer I have. but I have not resigned yet and neither have I started working for the new employer. please advise on these matters. thank you
willo - 22-Apr-15 @ 10:19 PM
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