Without getting into the political and public debate on who should have been bailed out, who didn’t support who enough, and who could have done a better job at managing each company crisis, redundancy hurts the individual employees in so many ways.
The obvious ones of course are you lose your financial security regardless of how big a pay out you get because most of us, if you can’t see in writing, or on the vague horizon what will replace that job you just lost, the panic sets in.
That annoying voice that whispers to you at night, “what if you never get hired again? What if you’re too old and no one cares about you?”
Let’s face it; we’re not exactly a culture that reveres our citizens past the age of 40, unless you’ve served in a war. There’s so much attitude that if you don’t have a poster of an Apple Mac on your wall, there’s something wrong with you.
But what also happens when you’re let off is you lose your connection to a tribe. A collective of people that make you feel like you belong to something. When you lose that, it feels like everyone in a once crowded room you stood in, just all walked away.
And a huge part of the grief process when you have a job you love doing and it’s taken from you, is it feels like a death. It’s the death of a little part of your soul.
I’ve been in the redundancy seat, many years ago when the music industry, pre-downloading, started dying like the car industry has today. And everyone that worked within it, despite having natural gripes here and there, lived and breathed their jobs.
One day, we were introduced to this new boss, dubbed the Smiling Assassin who it was rumoured was there to claim scalps.
They were horrible days, waking with fear and never really being able to have your heart in the job, because you don’t want to love something too hard if you’re scared it’s about to go.
Then D Day came for me and countless others, as word spread around the building that the firing squad was shooting this day.
And this is where it got ugly, only a week or so prior, the two bosses, the Smiling Assassin and the Robot Finance Guy had called us all into a meeting and ensured us that we, the remaining few were going to be ok. They even insinuated as a way of getting us on side, and dumbing us down, was that those that had already gone, possibly needed to go so the company could lift its game.
And here’s the thing, like others going through this might feel or have felt, we didn’t necessarily blame our bosses for the fact the music industry was globally falling apart, it was how they went about treating us that turned into a red rag to a bull.
What they did was call up each person, say “we’re sorry but we’re making you redundant today, all you need to know about is in here,” and then they’d hand you a large envelope with your name on it.
What was equally astounding as how brief his speech was, was that the pile of other envelopes sitting right under our noses, with the name of the next person about to get fired.
So we got feral. Off we stomped, like a pack of medieval peasants off to kill the King, we marched into the bottle shop, slapped down our company credit card and we ordered up big Johnny Rotten style.
We threw ourselves a rock’n’roll style wake right there in the office. It was our salute to the two men who forgot what it feels like to be a person, not just a number.