Discovered redundancy is imminent - what to do?
November 13, 2017 2:31 PM   Subscribe

I have been told, from a reliable source, that, after many years with my employer, I am probably going to be made redundant at the end of the month. I am not meant to know this, and I am not sure what to do with this knowledge. What should I do?

Needless to say, my brain is fried and my motivation to work is severely lacking. I believe there may be a (possibly slim) chance that an alternative solution might be found (e.g. a different, cheaper contract or a partially paid leave of absence), however at the minute I am not involved in any discussions (since I am not meant to know this is happening).

I do not want to lose this job (for a variety of reasons), so I would wish to grab at any alternative solution with both hands.

I believe this is being discussed at my N+2 level or higher; as far as I am aware my direct manager is not aware that this on the cards. I am also reasonably confident that my direct manager would not be pleased with my leaving (we are already understaffed after previous rounds of redundancies in preceeding years). Should I approach my direct manager and let him know what is happening, in the hope of gaining an "ally"? My main concern about doing this is that this may cause problems for person who informed me of the situation (since it may be obvious who told me). I am also aware that, if the decision is definite, there is little my manager could do to prevent this.

In any event what else should I be doing? Does this foreknowledge give me any power, or does it just mean a couple of weeks of sleepless nights and non-productive days waiting for the axe to fall?

In case it is relevant, my employer is a large multinational. I am fully aware that HR is not my friend.
posted by teselecta to Work & Money (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Start looking for a new job. If you don't end up needing one, great, but the main benefit to knowing in advance that you are likely to be laid off is that it gives you more time to look for a new job. I guess you could approach your manager and say that you've heard some unpleasant rumors, and ask if he knows anything about it, but that seems unlikely to be fruitful.

(You don't say where you are - I'm guessing not in the US based on your use of "redundancy" - if you post something about your location and the nature of your contract you might get more useful advice.)
posted by mskyle at 2:38 PM on November 13, 2017 [10 favorites]

Work on your resume, find out what colleagues could be used as professional references and get their personal contact info, make sure you have whatever documents/materials/contacts would be helpful
posted by raccoon409 at 2:39 PM on November 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

I would start working my network inside the company to see if any other teams have space for someone like me, as well as internal resources (e.g. internal job listings).

And yeah, line up your contacts, potential recommendations, work samples (but only to the extent you are allowed, i.e. don't break your NDA)...
posted by batter_my_heart at 3:09 PM on November 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

This happened to me earlier in the year. My recommendation is to tell absolutely nobody that you have this information. It sucks, but you really want to make sure to burn as few bridges as you can on your way out. If you're lucky, you may get a severance package, and you absolutely do not want to risk losing it, because when employers are dropping people, they'll look for any reason to fire you instead. And don't tell your direct manager--I cannot see any positive outcome of that and many negative outcomes.

What you can do on a positive note: Start exploring new jobs. Update and scrub your resume. Update your LinkedIn profile. Get some feelers out, let people around your industry know that you may be approaching a search soon. If you can, get all the contact information for all of you coworkers (I brought home the company-wide phone/email list they produced every month), in case you may want to either use them as a reference later, or continue to have them in your professional network. If you're not connected on LinkedIn with any of them, start doing that (although I'd take it slow so as to not draw attention. Start taking your personal items home slowly over the month, so you don't have to wait for them to mail you your g-d phone charger, photos, that jacket you wore one day when it was cold i the morning but too warm in the afternoon, etc. Oh, and if you have any IP that you want to save, say some writing for samples, make sure to grab that.

I'm sorry this may be happening for you. It sucks. Best of luck.
posted by General Malaise at 3:12 PM on November 13, 2017 [10 favorites]

If you want to keep your direct manager as an ally you should assemble a bit of documentation to hand over, regarding processes and the status of various deliverables. I assume that the day you are notified is also your last day, which is common in some industries. You can present yourself as a good guy and make references and referrals easier to obtain.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 3:30 PM on November 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

Does this foreknowledge give me any power, or does it just mean a couple of weeks of sleepless nights and non-productive days waiting for the axe to fall?

The latter, I'm afraid. I'm sorry this is happening to you, but long-term you will be glad that you had foreknowledge and the opportunity to plan your exit effectively.

Everyone above is right: Tell. No. One. Not one soul. This was told to you in confidence and that was a super great kindness from the person who did it, but all you can do by telling others is to get that very kind person who tried to help you fired. Don't do that.

Your direct manager most likely does know about this, or will shortly. If they do NOT know, then it means their staffing needs do not carry sufficient weight with the higher-ups to influence decision making. Heck, odds are it means they're next up on the chopping block.

It sounds like you've just learned this and are in the shock/denial/bargaining phase. That's natural! It is deeply unpleasant but natural. Ride it out. Cry and grieve! But resist the urge to actually try and save your job. You cannot save it. Someone may yet save it for you? But it can't be you.

Once you have moved more into the "Acceptance" phase of this whole deal, follow all of the excellent advice re: gathering contact info, updating your resume, reviewing your budget, applying for jobs.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 3:32 PM on November 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

You've gotten mostly good advice so far. You can't save your job, and neither can your manager (so no, do NOT tell them). What you need to do now is be prepared for the inevitable.

That can mean looking for a new job, or just mentally preparing yourself for taking a break after this one.

But what you must do, is assume that at any moment you can be walked out of the office with no warning. So any information you need that exists on your computer, emails, calendars, etc. needs to be saved somewhere safe, immediately. Any physical information needs to be considered as well. You will not have access to any of this going forward. When it happens you will get called to a meeting room, and while you're there your access will be turned off, you'll be walked back to your desk and someone will be watching you clear out.

Conversely, make sure any personal info that might exist on any company property is scrubbed. Cookies, history, saved passwords, etc.

Sure you can keep your work projects tidy and ready to be handed over at a moment's notice, but do this only insomuch as you otherwise would as a competent employee. Personally, I would want to leave as much ambiguity around any foreknowledge I had, both to protect my source and to keep my relationship with my former manager uncomplicated ("you knew? why didn't you tell me??").

Now would also be a good time to make sure your LinkedIn network is up to date (is everyone you work with already a connection?) and maybe make an extra effort to socialize with coworkers--not because you're trying to desperately hang on, or find a new thing, but because you might not see these nice people again for a while.

You actually DO have an advantage here. It doesn't have to be sleepless nights. You've gotten the gift of being able to manage your exit--most folks would kill for this.
posted by danny the boy at 3:50 PM on November 13, 2017 [14 favorites]

Looks like you're in the UK, so here's your statutory rights, which is the first thing you might want to know for more certainty. Even after you're notified you'll still have at least $many weeks notice before you have to leave, plus a statutory redundancy pay of $many weeks (both given that you say you've worked there $many years), so there's a bit of breathing space, although of course you might be put on gardening leave during the notice period.

Apart from that, and reading your contract to see if you have more than the basic statutory rights*, I'd suggest that the main thing you need to do is get yourself much more reflective about the value of what you do is, mentally summing up each thing you do during the day as a CV item and an interview story. And keep your positive face on and be friendly and try to explore opportunities. Good luck!

*although as the presumably US-based answers above imply, it's definitely worth being thankful you have those rights.
posted by ambrosen at 4:05 PM on November 13, 2017

Apologies, it looks like you're a UK citizen resident abroad, so obviously you'll need to look up the statutory rights of the country that you live in. Hopefully they're similar or better.
posted by ambrosen at 4:10 PM on November 13, 2017

> I do not want to lose this job (for a variety of reasons), so I would wish to grab at any alternative solution with both hands.

You need as many options in front of you as possible, because you don't know which one's going to pan out. Alongside the standard advice above (which is excellent and absolutely correct) I suggest that if someone does drop the bomb on you, you find out what problem they are solving by making you redundant (budget? usefulness? strategy?) and proposing ways they can solve that problem without firing you (eg if it's a temporary budget shortfall, they could make budget if you went to two days a week for four months). I'd only consider that a stopgap measure, though - look for an alternative.
posted by Leon at 5:13 PM on November 13, 2017

BTDT. It sucks, you have my sympathies.
1. Check your contract for your entitlements, and research how any redundancy payment might be taxed.
2. Update your resume/CV
3. Ensure your contacts are accessible to you (ie keep a copy at home, not just on the work computer)
4. Start planning how to use your networks to get your next job.
You have a massive advantage in being forewarned - you can be very professional about it, and being prepared you will be much better placed to move forward than being shocked and traumatised by having it come out of nowhere.

Good luck.
posted by GeeEmm at 6:39 PM on November 13, 2017

I used to work in HR for a multinational. Once the decision to terminate you is made, there’s little to gain in trying to fight it. If will only paint you as a bitter person and a sore loser (in the eyes of your employer, that is)

Instead, as already suggested above, do update your CV, start looking for jobs ASAP, make a copy of all the personal info stored on your company’s laptop if applicable, and start preparing your handover notes to be able to exit gracefully.
posted by Kwadeng at 7:16 PM on November 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

If it was still under discussion and I had more then just the one ally in a decision making capacity, I'd definitely communicate to them that I'd be OK with alternative arrangements for a while if that would be helpful. However, it sounds like it's just the one person and while they may be privy to the conversation, they may have no input. In that case, all talking about it as if you know you're about to be made redundant can do is get your friend/confidante/whatever in trouble.

That said, if there has been some recent life change that would make a discussion about going to part time not seem completely out of the blue and you'd rather have that than your likely severance package, that might be worth broaching with your boss, so long as you can keep the fact that you have heard about layoff discussions completely to yourself.
posted by wierdo at 8:00 PM on November 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

This may be more devious than you're willing to go but why not suddenly develop work-related depression/fatigue/etc.? You will not be terminated whilst on medical leave (most likely) so you can achieve two things: 1. drag another month out of it, and 2. paint yourself as the victim of tough working conditions - which may help when negotiating your severance.
Oh, and all of the good ideas above.
Good luck!
posted by Parsnip at 5:19 AM on November 14, 2017

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