Plan ahead to cope if you lose job

Rumours of possible retrenchment threats often waft down the corridors in quiet whispers. At other times they arrive like a blow from a sledgehammer.
Finance minister Tito Mboweni used the sledgehammer in his recent budget speech, putting civil servants on notice that job cuts are inevitable. Irrespective of how the message arrives, the receiver must have a strategy to stay ahead of the news.
Retrenched, or you suspect it may be in the offing? Time for “No more Mr Nice-Guy, or Mrs Nice-Girl”.
Your future is threatened and loyalty to your salary source is over. It’s not personal, as the organisation is bound to say, “it’s just business”. Some people will do better than others regarding the settlement packages and you need to be on the positive side, and if you use the right strategy, be right at the head of the queue.
Fighting hard might be totally against your personality, but you need to be prepared for a tough, tedious battle well before the retrenchment process starts. However, you can’t go to war without ammunition, and in the retrenchment fight information is ammunition.
There are clear warning signs that jobs are under threat. Attention to these signs might actually save your job, which could be first prize if you love what you are doing. If not it will give you more time to prepare your strategy for searching for another career.
There are various estimates that retrenchment will cut as many as 500,000 jobs in 2019, from shop floor to director level.
Most employers should try to avoid people feeling the axe, with retrenchments the unavoidable final manoeuvre, so if you have a nagging suspicion that you may be a target, then you are already a step ahead. Pose a few scary questions to yourself, and give yourself blunt, sugar-less answers.
Has it been increasingly difficult for the organisation to meet its targets, beat the competition, iron out production hassles, stay in the area as a large customer departs, source raw material, or generally stay competitive? Tick one.
Is new technology making your job redundant, are there cheaper ways of doing the same thing, are you “re-skillable” and do you want to be? Tick two.
The opening move, well before the “know your rights” skirmish starts, is to review your financial position and see how long you can survive.
In the short term, lifestyle sacrifices may be essential. Then, consult a retrenchment expert.
Several options don’t involve simply accepting the offer. A good lawyer will split you from the herd, ensuring you are treated as an individual.
With the lawyer’s advice, buy time. Avoid, if possible, impulsive financial decisions. Use delaying tactics. The company wants you out as soon as they can, but you need to stay as long as convenient. Forget about loyalty, think survival...

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