Morgan, Lawyer, Brisbane
I never expected to be made redundant. Even the night before it happened, a friend asked if I felt I had job security and I said ‘absolutely.’ The next day, I received an email from the partner in my office wanting to schedule a time to talk to me about changes that needed to occur in the firm as a result of COVID-19. She suggested I access the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) during this difficult time, so I knew straight away what was happening.
When I first found out I burst into tears and had no idea what to do. So many worries were running through my head so I just put my runners on and ran until sundown. It’s now been six weeks since my redundancy and I’ve accepted it. I’m trying to remain positive and hopeful but I still have days where it seems impossible. I try not to apply for jobs on those days because I know that I’ll be thinking what’s the point and I don’t want that kind of attitude coming across in my applications.
I worked out my notice period (I was equally bitter and glad about this) so when my first day of unemployment came around, it really hit me. I’m naturally such an organised person so I was very lost and had no idea what to do. Having so much time makes you overthink everything and there were days when I would spiral and think I had failed.
Being made redundant in the middle of a pandemic and at a time when no company’s priority is recruitment is pretty overwhelming. Financial fears are definitely there for me and potentially losing my house, and also my mental health. I’m thankful I’ve been able to access government benefits. I know it’ll all have to be paid back (probably by increased taxes) at some point, but for now it’s allowing me to keep a roof over my head and food on the table so I am grateful.
It truly has made me love and appreciate my support network so much more. The other day I came home to groceries on my doorstep from my friend and it filled my heart with so much warmth. It has also made me appreciate that having a job is a privilege not to be taken for granted. Also, when there’s no money coming in you question every cent going out - so it has definitely reshaped my relationship with money for the better.
I think that it is really comforting to know that so many people are in the same situation. I gave myself a few days to be sad and have no routine at all, but now I try and be so productive with my time, even if that means resting. Before we know it everything will be back to normal and we will be wishing for a holiday or a break, so try as much as you can to enjoy the time for what it is.
I spend as much time outside as I can and I try to consciously do things that value my time, my relationships, and my money. Every week my nanna teaches me to crochet so it’s nice to spend that time with her while still learning something new for myself.
Charlotte,* Journalist, Sydney
I felt completely blindsided, it all happened so quickly. A conference call was scheduled into my calendar around 10am and I was made redundant over the phone by 11am. It was brutal.
Like many of many colleagues, I had no idea it was going to happen and felt I had no time to prepare. The abruptness of the whole situation and the complete lack of communication was probably the worst part.
When I first heard the news, I was left feeling completely shocked and came away with a lot of self-doubts. It’s hard to tell yourself it’s nothing to do with your performance and that you haven’t failed - you immediately blame yourself. As I hung up from the call I was left feeling that I simply wasn’t good enough.
My lowest moment was thinking I’d have to give up my dream of being a writer. Like many others, I’ve spent years getting my foot in the door and trying to climb the ladder. The feeling that all my hard work had been pulled from underneath me in a matter of minutes was absolutely devastating.
Being made redundant has made me reconsider whether this is the right career path for me. When you know you’re good at your job and you work long and hard hours, it’s difficult when you’re left feeling under-appreciated and like you’re just another number on the books.
I’m worried about signing up for unemployment, I’m worried about paying bills, I’m worried about paying off debts, and I’m worried about the future. The thought of having no income is extremely stressful.
The normal stress that goes along with losing your job is amplified by a thousand when you’re in the midst of a pandemic. It’s not as easy to pick yourself back up. Whilst I have some money saved, the fear of dipping into my savings and the process of calculating how long it will last is absolutely terrifying. Although I’m very lucky I have a partner who is currently employed, the thought of not having enough money and having to rely on someone else is now constantly in the back of my mind.
It has been exactly one week since I have been made redundant. I think it took me a while to believe this was a real thing that was happening. Some part of me had hoped that they made a mistake. The mental aspect is so draining. The tears and sadness have since dried up, and after feeling angry and confused towards the end of last week I can now feel a sense of hopelessness creeping in.
It’s pivotal to have people you can lean on and ask for advice during a time like this. I feel very lucky to have an incredible support system, and being made redundant has made me realise just how important my family and friends are. It’s comforting to know you have people backing you who can help guide you through seriously shitty times. Many of my colleagues are in the same boat and having people who are going through the same thing certainly helps, too. Having others around you who help you realise that it’s not just you and that you’re not to blame is so crucial.
If you’re experiencing redundancy, know you’re not alone. Turn to the support of your family and friends and make your mental health a priority. It can be so difficult to maintain a positive mindset during a time like this, but it’s so important to know that you haven’t failed.
Emily, Financial Controller, Brisbane
I was temporarily stood down without pay. This means that they have no work for me in the foreseeable future and therefore can't pay me to work.
I wasn't expecting it. I’m the leader of my team so I thought that they would keep myself and my assistant team leader. In hindsight, I should have expected it as they only kept my assistant team leader who has been around for longer than I have and knows everything I know plus more detail.
After I was stood down, I drove eight hours to where my family live and stayed there for a month. I felt numb for the first couple of days but once it sunk in that I wouldn't be working anymore it was a very bizarre feeling.
It wasn't until I came back to my place in Brisbane two weeks ago that I realised I had nothing to motivate me or hold me accountable. That’s when I started to struggle and that was my lowest moment.
It's now been a month and a half since I was stood down and I'm feeling a little better about it. It's all still very uncertain but my work has been great with keeping us connected and updated. I'm resigned to the fact that if I can't get my job back in the medium future, I’ll be able to look for something else. However, I'd really like to go back to my old role so I'm still holding out for now.
My biggest fear is the state of the industry I work in. I work in the travel industry, which has been critically impacted and for who knows how long. I'm lucky I work for one of the biggest companies in the industry, but it is very hard to know when we will be required to come back to work as we don't know when borders will be re-opening, and it will take time after that happens for the work to flow onto my team.
I’ve been entitled to the JobKeeper allowance and this has been a massive help. It really took the stress out of the whole situation knowing I would have some money. I think in this way the government have been hugely helpful.
I have a really great support network of family and friends and they have all reached out to me during this time. I'm far from being the only one going through this and I know I'm in a much more privileged position than some so I feel lucky.
Being stood down has given me plenty of time to think. I'm also using this time to focus on my physical health which has been taking a back seat recently and I'm hoping that will have positive flow-on effects for my mental health.
If you’re going through the same thing, I suggest just taking each day as it comes. People will be super quick to ask you what your plan is and what you want to do next. It's okay to not know.
Putting undue pressure on yourself to figure it out will never be helpful. Just see what feels right for you and go from there. We're all in unprecedented times right now so it's okay to take time to yourself and have a breather from all the craziness. It's a really strange time to be alive.
*Name has been changed to protect interviewee's identity.