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By Robyn Ironside
Robyn Ironside is an experienced journalist who has covered numerous areas of expertise over her long career. Robyn tells the story of her redundancy… and the opportunities the decision created, both personally and professionally.
Being made redundant was always a possibility in my chosen profession of journalism but I never thought it would happen to me.
Working hard and getting along with people would somehow make me impervious to the increasing cuts in my organisation, I thought.
I really didn’t stop to think about all the things that made me a prime target, such as earning a higher than average salary and doing a job that was commonly outsourced, with a multitude of talented freelancers working in the same space.
The end of the financial year had come and gone which made me think those unpleasant decisions had all been made and executed. So it came as quite a shock, when, just four days into the new financial year, I got an email from my interstate-based manager’s assistant, politely informing me he was in town and I was to meet with him in 30 minutes.
Perhaps it was a blessing I had so little time to prepare or to think about what was about to happen, and when I walked into the meeting room at the designated time and saw my boss sitting there with the HR manager – well, the writing was on the wall.
Their words barely registered. “You’ve been a credit to our organisation but unfortunately we’ve had to make some hard decisions about the roles we have, and we’ve decided yours is one we no longer need.” Or words to that effect.
An envelope of papers was handed to me, including a letter setting out the fact my role was being made redundant and if there was not another position within the organisation for me, I would be leaving on July 14. In 10 days time. A page of figures set out what my redundancy payout would be, which should probably have been of some comfort but at the time, I just felt numb.
I had never been unemployed. I felt unwanted, and used. I’d worked long hours almost every week, often at the expense of my own family. I’d worked during annual leave without any additional compensation, on days off, nights – happily. I loved my job and what I did, and no request ever seemed like too much to me. But now this. It hit me hard and it didn’t help that my family was out of town at the time – taking a holiday without me because… I was working. I went home to my dogs and cried and tried to make sense of it all. It took a few days before I could even tell anyone. I felt ashamed.
Among the material given to me, was the number for professional counsellors, a service provided for free by my workplace. I didn’t use it, but in hindsight I probably should have.
In hindsight I should have done a lot of things that I didn’t, so hopefully anyone reading this won’t make the same mistakes.
There was also a course offered on resume writing and going to interviews – something else I probably should have taken advantage of. And then there was the redundancy payout. My employer was generous. After just over 10 years of service, it was a good payout, and it would have been smart to get some proper financial advice. After all, how often does a year’s pay land in your lap that attracts minimal tax? With a sizeable mortgage still to pay off, and two children in high school, I thought it best to put it towards those things – as tempting as it was to blow a good portion on a lavish holiday.
Others who had been in similar positions suggested I take some time out, to take stock of what I wanted to do next; refocus, rejuvenate and regroup. That just wasn’t my style and thanks to some good contacts and a good name, I started training with another media organisation before my last day. A year on, I’m enjoying working as a journalist again albeit in a much different way. I don’t work every day and nor do I want to. My shoulders are relaxed; the constant tension in my neck has gone; I am much more available to my family and am looking forward to a ripper holiday at the end of the year. My financial position is considerably stronger than it was a year ago, although I do wonder if I had sought professional advice – how much better it could be.
Someone asked me the other day: “Is redundancy the best thing that happened to you?” I am not entirely sure if it is but I do know this. Redundancy is a (sometimes unforeseen) opportunity and like any opportunity, you should try to make the best of it. Do accept offers of help and training, get the support you need and get the advice you need. It also doesn’t hurt to keep exercising, and keep smiling.
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