Bleak as it sounds, preparing for cost-cutting measures and a retrenchment letter is the smart thing to do. With the ongoing Covid-19 crisis and the economic aftershocks only just being felt now, we could all be looking at a period of austerity for a long time to come. Crazy as it sound, getting retrenched doesn’t have to be a horrible experience IF you take charge of the situation.
While it is awful and stressful, preparing for the fallout is the most powerful thing you can do. And if the chop doesn’t happen, then you’ve just taken pro-active steps to empower your life.
Do you know your monthly budget, have an estimate of your grocery bill and aware of the ongoing streaming subscriptions you’re not using? With more time at home, devote a couple of evenings to straightening out your affairs. Consolidate all your debt and look into low interest (check out MAS term loan offer at 8% p.a.) options to pay it off, explore re-financing or deferring your mortgage (applicable till 31 Dec 2020) or car loan, and for now, perhaps cut your wardrobe subscription till you need it again. The aim of the exercise will be for nought though if you don’t come up with a bare-bones budget.
Imagine if you’re out of work for 3-6 months, how much do you actually need to live? Detail it with a budget worksheet, NerdWallet has a comprehensive one that even includes “Wants” (read: budget for the odd cocktail delivery).
If you’re going “huh?”, maybe hold onto the cocktail delivery till you’ve sorted out your emergency fund. This can be anything from 3 to 6 months of your living expenses, stashed away, preferably in a high-interest Savings Account (check out Citibank Maxi Gain account, or DBS Multiplier). Claw whatever spare cash you have together, look at trimming your spending for the next few months and focus on cooking more and enjoying free/low-cost activities (here’s how you can save more money working from home).
Being cautious now will pay off in the long run when you’re safe in the knowledge that you have a robust fund to fall back on and stop you from making decisions out of fear.
If you’ve caught wind of impending cuts at your workplace, your best defence is knowledge.
Insensitive as it sounds, try to find out what type of severance was served to past colleagues. To better your negotiating chances, get familiar with your employment compensation terms.
Depending on your agreement and time served (usually two years and up), according to MOM, you may or may not be entitled to retrenchment benefits – some even extend medical benefits for a period of time – which can range from two weeks to a month for each year employed.
Also, if your salary has been reduced before being let go, it is the salary before the cut that’s used to decide the amount of compensation. Plus, your employer is still on the hook for all unusued annual leave, notice pay and office-related expenses incurred – so don’t sign anything until all these have been reflected and agreed upon.
If you’ve been at your current job for more than three years, chances are your resume is in need of a spruce up.
Rework it into a modern format, drop the long cover letter, instead focus on reflecting your current skill set and mastery of industry trends.
If you’re in need of upskilling, utilise your SkillsFuture credits, browse courses on LinkedIn Learning, Skillshare and Google Digital Academy and get cracking.
When you’re done, think of other ways to boost your professional profile: offer your services pro bono, think up of thought leadership topics you can weigh in on, and maybe finally sign up for that remote conference that just got a lot cheaper.
Whether you’re retrenched or fired – some employers actually don’t know the difference – all bosses will expect a proper handover. While you can use the excuse that it’s no longer your responsibility, it’s the last bargaining chip you’ll have. A handover outlining your job scope, responsibilities and how-tos will speak volumes about your professionalism. Doing so also alleviates the load left on your remaining team members who’ll no doubt go onto sing your praises, and might even refer you to your next job. Tying up loose ends also ensures a positive reference and the perfect segway to ask for a glowing LinkedIn endorsement at your exit interview.
No one is indispensible but the ugly truth is some are more dispensible than others. To decrease your chances of getting the cut, this is the time to flex. If you’re the numbers whiz on the team, put together a scale-up sales proposal for the team’s next weekly Zoom meeting, reach out to anchor clients and make sure they feel the love, all this will send the message to your boss that his/her work will be a lot more challenging without you.
With most people working remotely, you now a legitimate excuse to network during office hours. Sign up for industry-related webinars, organise Zoom drinks with old teammates, or just read, intelligently comment and follow posts on LinkedIn by key thought leaders, you’ll be surprised at how fast all this will boost your social presence and with that broaden your network.
Do not leave things till the last minute where instead of saying fond goodbyes you’re scrambling to download personal photos off your office-issued laptop. Start saving important files – presentations for future reference, key documents, training files, performance reviews, pay slips – and deleting all personal ones that should not be housed on a work device in the first place. Needless to say, curating your contact database should be a top priority, you never know who you could be working alongside soon.
Trust us, someone you know has probably already gotten the heave-ho. Know that you’re not alone and this is just temporary. Once you’re done with the pity party, re-frame and re-look your options.
If you’ve not felt challenged by your role for a while now, this upcoming window of time is a gift. Use it to explore where you really want to be and what work looks like to you. Take time to reflect and tune out the white noise. Kill the alarm clock for the foreseeable future and be kind to yourself, because eventually, this too shall pass.