Redundancy – just the word can strike fear into the heart of everyone who relies on their income to pay their bills each month.
But it’s more than the threat of financial ruin – for many people their “steady” job is part of their identity and losing that security really pulls the rug out from under their feet and leaves them reeling.
At the end of 2013, I was in that very position. I was happily working as deputy news editor at the local newspapers in my home town when the threat of a major restructure loomed.
Redundancy turned out great
But, as it turned out, taking voluntary redundancy was probably one of the best things that has ever happened to me.
At the time I held the title of deputy news editor. I had returned to work full time just a year earlier after previously being a part-time reporter following the birth of my children.
I was happy there and enjoying the job.
I had no plans to leave so the announcement that the publishing company that owned the titles was cutting staff was a shock, but unfortunately not a huge surprise. It was massively in debt and had been making swingeing cuts throughout all areas of the business for a number of years.
This time, though, the axe was falling close to home and I was told that the title of news editor and deputy would likely be culled, although we could apply for the (reduced) number of reporter jobs which would remain.
I was confident that I would get one of those reporter roles, but I enjoyed the more varied role I was currently doing, so I didn’t relish the idea of returning to a straightforward reporting role.
Redundancy pay would not pay the bills
But I was very concerned about what other options were available to me if I took the voluntary redundancy package which was being offered. As I had not been there very long, the financial aspect was not going to pay the mortgage and bills for long.
I am a single mum of two children and couldn’t contemplate a long commute to work which would impact on my childcare arrangements, so I was restricted to a small geographical area and opportunities for people with my skill set are few and far between locally.
The news editor who I worked with was in a similar position and planning on taking voluntary redundancy and one day, over lunch, we were talking about our next steps when we jokingly said we should set up our own newspaper.
It almost started out as a joke, but the more we thought about it and toyed with it, the more it seemed like a realistic suggestion.
We knew that we had access to the right team to make the project a success and we felt there was capacity in the town for another newspaper.
Waiting for redundancy to be approved
And so we set the wheels in motion. It was obviously absolutely terrifying, particularly as we had to press ahead and put things in place in secret while we were still working at the papers and waiting to be approved for voluntary redundancy. But it was a very exciting and busy time and things moved quickly.
Our redundancies were approved and myself, along with three former colleagues, became partners in our own newspaper, which five years later is going from strength to strength – although, of course, I’m no longer working there.
It now has a team of 10 people in editorial and advertising sales roles and from my initial role as production editor it gave me the scope to start up a design and marketing agency.
It was that role which enabled me to again consider taking voluntary redundancy in 2018 to go it alone and set up Plan B Marketing.
Second redundancy even more scary
It was terrifying all over again – perhaps even more so as this time I was going it alone. But my previous experience gave me the courage to give it a go and I haven’t looked back.
Redundancy, therefore, opened up all sorts of new opportunities for me and as my own boss I have more flexibility to find a better work-life balance. I’m even earning more money than I ever did as an employee and I’ve learned new skills which I’m using in my personal business ventures.
I think without redundancy I would have been too afraid to turn my back on a guaranteed monthly salary to quit my job and give it a go.
The voluntary redundancy payments we received also enabled me and my business partners to invest in getting the business started – we would probably not have been in a position to do that otherwise.
So, I can honestly say, redundancy is not always the impending disaster it might at first appear to me.
It may be a catalyst for you to move outside of your comfort zone and try something you’ve always wanted to do. Who knows, it could just be the start of an amazing new chapter. It certainly has been for me.