In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, employers have been forced to adopt various measures to keep their businesses afloat. Retrenching staff has been one of the unfortunate but common measures embraced by the employers.
For sure, this is a traumatizing time for retrenched employees. When you are used to having an employer for a number of years, you can feel rudderless once you leave employment. There has always been a sure salary every end of the month without fail. This assurance has now been removed. There was an office to go to. There is no office to go to anymore for most of the victims. There are many other depressing daily reminders that the job is no more. It may not be easy but take heart, things can be better. With positive attitude, one can even live a much better life. As they say, when one door is closed, God opens many more. And when you spend too much time looking back at the closed door, you lose the opportunity to behold the open doors in front of you. The Old Testament story of Lot in Genesis 19:25 illustrates this. When Lot’s wife looked back she became a pillar of salt. The pillar of salt is stationary. It cannot move forward. It is of no use to anyone other than those who lick it and once it loses its saltiness, it is worthless. As long as you remain stationary, people will lick any retrenchment benefits or savings until they are over. Then you become the subject of their conversation detailing how you used to work and retired with a lot of money but now you have squandered it. The fact that they contributed immensely to the depletion of your benefits is conveniently left out in the conversation.
An employee who faces retrenchment is well advised to first and foremost jealously hold onto his/her retrenchment benefits and or savings. It is going to be a long while before the former employee receives money in a lump-sum. This amount can be used to enter into business.
Secondly, the former employee should keep the few assets he may have come out of employment with loan-free. This way, he has no monthly obligations now that the monthly salary is gone.
There are several options available to an employee who has lost a job. We will explore three of these in the next part of this article.
Institutions are forever in search of experienced employees. They are forever advertising vacancies in their organizations. And, even with retrenchment, companies are still employing to bridge certain skills gaps. If company A lays off more staff in operations, company B may be in need of such staff. The retrenched employee interested in being re-employed will then need to take time to polish up his/her cv and then seek employment. Networking with colleagues in other institutions will come in handy in addition to keeping an eye out for adverts.
A word of caution though; the right jobs are not easy to come by and searching for them can often be a very frustrating affair. One may also settle for a less paying job to have a place to report to in the morning and maintain a monthly salary.
- Getting into business
Many former employees have entered into and managed very successful businesses. Business is a satisfying minefield if one is tenacious enough to navigate the terrain. The retrenched employee can apply the retirement benefits and savings to a business. This business will not only employ him/her but also generate cash flow for his/her uses. The greatest challenge in this area for employees is their background. Employment is a field where the rules (in the form of policies and procedures written in manuals) are well known and strictly enforced. An employee therefore is disadvantaged when he/she enters into a world where there are no rules. In the real business world, price undercutting, shortcuts and technical know-who are common place amongst other cut-throat techniques in the quest for customers.
The retrenched employee should therefore enter into business:
- Which he/she has tried before and knows it can succeed. In trying the business, he/she has understood the challenges and knows how to overcome them.
- He/she has a passion for. Now there is no boss to checks on whether you go to work or not and also at what time. The retrenched employee needs to get involved in a business that will motivate him/her to wake up early in the morning.
In starting a business, one is advised to:
- Start small and grow – learn the ropes as the business grows. If it doesn’t work out, you still have some money you can invest in another one.
- Pay up all the necessary obligations first or put aside an amount equivalent to 6 months living expenses – school fees, rent, water, electricity, and food are some of the household expenses that can give a retrenchee sleepless nights if not provided for.
- Be ready to work hard – it is now a matter of survival. Procrastination, sloppiness will soon kick you out of the market
Every so often, the goods and services offered in the market are rebranded with very little change in the product. A product becomes New Improved or with this and that vitamins. This is done by the marketing mandarins to ward off competition and remain relevant in the consumer’s mind. In the same way a retrenched employee can re-brand by acquiring more skills/knowledge in a new area to remain relevant in the market. For sure, given the many colleges and universities in the country, the retrenched staff is spoilt for choice. An additional certificate, diploma or degree can open new earning avenues that were hitherto unavailable to him. Consultancy and coaching is an area that is open to people with hands-on experience. There is no shortage of lecturing opportunities in the ever expanding universities and colleges sectors for those who acquire masters and PHDs.
These are just but a few of the opportunities that are available to a retrenched employee.
This world is full of employees who lost their jobs and never rose up again. They become desperate, and are more often than not avoided by their former colleagues and friends. There is life after employment. All one has to do is accept the situation and be positive that he/she can make it. With the right mind-set the former employee can approach his new found circumstances with enthusiasm instead of trepidation.