Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fearing the Potential Loss of Your Government Job? How Will You Cope?

For many people a job is more than an income - it's an important part of who we are. So a career transition of any sort is one of the most unsettling experiences you can face in your life.

— Paul Clitheroe

First there were the rumours. Then the announcements began. In order to reduce the deficit, the Government of Canada is reducing program spending in a number of departments and agencies, and there is growing concern among many public servants that they may be among those looking for work inside and, perhaps, outside the federal bureaucracy.

Given the number of programs and services being examined, it is inevitable that some Public Service jobs will be cut. PS unions are predicting that it could be in the 10 percent range (or close de 65 000 jobs between 2011 and 2014!). Little wonder that uncertainty in the public service is rampant and morale is suffering.

Dealing with job loss

Job loss is among life's top 10 most stressful events, so successfully overcoming this challenge demands focus, commitment and a significant effort on your part.

Anyone losing his or her job will go through a number of stages of loss similar to those that people experience following the death of a loved one: shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance.

Affected or surplus employees

Traditionally, employment security was one of the key attractions of a public service career, but those days are gone. Nevertheless, affected employees or those declared surplus can still rely on a number of services to help cope with their situation and successfully make the transition to a new job.

For example, to maximize employment opportunities for indeterminate employees affected by work force adjustment, departments and agencies, wherever possible, are expected to ensure that alternative employment opportunities are offered. And, in the case of surplus employees, retraining may be provided for up to two years.

What can a manager do?

Just as employees are often traumatized by job loss; managers can also be deeply affected. Most managers suffer sleepless nights and bouts of uncertainty while deciding which employees to cut, and/or how to deal with affected employees.

Some Tips:

  • Be sincere and compassionate, but don't raise false expectations or misrepresent the consequences of your decisions
  • Allow affected and surplus employees time to adjust to their situation and recognize that their performance may suffer in the interim
  • Focus on those leaving as well as those who will be left behind
  • Find out from human resources specialists what you can (and can't) do and provide transitional help whenever and wherever possible
  • Strive to keep the work environment positive and productive
  • Establish and maintain open communications with all your employees

What can you do?

Once you get over the initial shock (and the denial, anger and depression), learn to accept the situation and focus your efforts on moving on.

Some tips:

  • Look for help – whether from colleagues, family members, a mental health professional, etc. – anyone who is willing to let you vent.
  • Then, if you haven't already done so, make an inventory of your skills and abilities, and identify the ones you need to work on in order to go after a new position, or those that are transferrable to other occupations.
  • Next it's time to do some networking with possible job contacts – friends, co-workers, former colleagues, even contacts in your community.
  • As well, decide how much time you need to spend on your job search, your skill development and your networking; then set up a schedule – and stick to it.

Y2CP can help

At Y2CP, we have the seasoned professionals and the experience to assist you in dealing with job loss and its aftermath. We're just a call away!

Leaman Long, B.A., B.Ed.
HRM Consultant
Y2 Consulting Psychologists Y2

If you have any questions and/or comments, don't hesitate. Thank you!

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