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Why is redundancy still kept so secret?

A recent survey of 1,400 adults in the UK has revealed that redundancy is still a taboo subject

Worryingly, there is clearly a stigma associated with being made redundant, with 8% of those questioned responding that they would keep the loss of their job a secret even from loved ones; meanwhile, nearly half of those questioned said they would only discuss having been made redundant with their nearest and dearest.

One of the ramifications of this silence around the subject of redundancy is that the processes and procedures remain a mystery to most of us. 63% of the respondents in the recent survey confessed that they had no understanding of the redundancy process, while 79% said they were unaware of the financial help they could be entitled to if they were made redundant.
Amongst the reasons people gave for keeping their redundancy a secret were embarrassment, fear of judgement, and protecting their privacy.

The fear around redundancy centres on two factors: firstly, how long we could survive without work, and secondly, how long it would take to find new employment. 62% said they thought they could survive between one and six months, with most people saying that three to four months was the most realistic estimate of how long they could get by without a regular income.

36% of the respondents felt that they could survive for more than six months, although whether this is related to how much of a pay-off they expected to receive is unclear. Just 2% felt they could survive less than one month, which indicates that most people have some faith in their employers to fairly compensate them for their loss of earnings.

The other factor underlying the widespread unease about redundancy is the length of time it might take to find new employment. Around one-third of the respondents thought it would only take them one or two months to get a new job, while 74% felt it may take up to six months. Sadly, 6% felt that they would never find work again.

The survey was commissioned by ScotCareers, the job site for Media Scotland. Mike Hartley, the commercial director, explained that the research was undertaken to understand people’s issues around the subject of redundancy and to gain an understanding of the questions people want answered. The research will be used to help tailor solutions that will help people to navigate the post-redundancy minefield, ensuring that they receive all the help and support necessary to secure themselves and their families.

It is also essential that people who have been made redundant receive the right kind of assistance in seeking new work and that recruitment staff are trained to understand the realities of redundancy. This includes the real reasons it happens, which often have little or no relation to actual job performance; instead, they are frequently a consequence of what Hartley terms ‘industrial volatility’.

An awareness of the stigmas associated with redundancy should help HR and recruitment staff to cut through some of the prejudice that surrounds it and to boost the confidence of those who have experienced it.

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