Redundancy and layoff – emotions and what to expect!

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When you are made redundant you may have to work your way through some very challenging and negative emotions. These can be disturbing and worrying for you and for those about you.  It helps if you, and they, know what to expect.
Shock and denial

Actually being made redundant comes as a shock.  Sometimes people simply refuse to believe it! Then they may go through a period when they deny what has happened.  They may have a conviction that somebody got something wrong and very shortly they will get a call back.

You may find yourself believing that the employer will change their mind. The reality is that it is very rare indeed for this to happen.  Good employers will have thought long and hard before announcing a redundancy and bad employers are very unlikely to want to admit they got it wrong.


After a while, you may become very angry.  This may be with your former employer but it might also be with your former colleagues – those who were lucky enough to stay! Why were you chosen and not them? The picture you paint in your mind of yourself and what happened can be far from the truth! Becoming consumed with anger is self-defeating and can be dangerous. If you, or someone near to you, can’t get passed this kind of anger, you may need to seek some outside help from a coach or counsellor and you may need to speak to your doctor.


It is usual to feel down when you have lost your job.  But after a while, this can turn into the darker emotion of depression.  Depression is an illness.  It goes with low self-esteem, loss of confidence and lack of energy.  You feel deeply miserable! You may not feel it is even worthwhile applying for another job, because no one is ever again going to want you.  Or you may apply for a job in a half-hearted way and then when you don’t get it that reinforces what you are already feeling.  So you can spiral down!

When this starts to happen it is best to get help. Depression is a serious condition and you should seek medical help if you feel it is becoming too much to handle.

Guilt and shame

It isn’t unusual to feel guilty when you have been made redundant.  You can feel it is your fault and that you have let yourself and your family down.  But in the present climate this is usually not true. Like you, lots of people who were very good at their work, are now unemployed.

It is painful even though it is not your fault.  But, you may feel shame and find yourself avoiding places and people that remind you of what has happened.  Sometimes people cover feelings of shame by behaving aggressively.

When you feel shame and guilt, sometimes it helps to stand back and think

  • Do I really believe someone thinks less of me as a result of this and would that be fair?
  • Would I think less of someone who had gone through an identical experience to the one I’ve had?
  • What advice would I give them, if they felt shame and guilt?

This is possibly the oddest emotion to list here.  But the reality is that you may feel relief that the uncertainty about being made redundant is over. The months before a redundancy is announced are often unpleasant and anxious – everyone is very uncertain.  Going to work has usually been stressful and now, at least, you are out from under the cloud!

Loss of confidence

Most of the emotions described above can undermine confidence and self belief.  You can begin to doubt yourself and your abilities. This in turn gets in the way of making a fresh start and finding a new job.

If you, yourself, are made redundant

Try not to be too proud to ask for and accept help.  It really can help to talk to someone else about how you are feeling.  As well as that, the best thing is to get into some practical tasks.  Don’t take a break before you begin your job search and, for example, CV updating.  Start as soon as possible.  Work with a buddy or a group if you can – there are lots around – search for one on the internet or ask in your local library or at the job centre.

Don’t let yourself feel isolated – these days, social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are great places to network and just to have a virtual chat.

If you are a relative or friend of someone made redundant or laid-off

It can be hard to know how to talk to someone who has been made redundant!  You don’t want to be too downbeat and add to the misery.  But if you are too upbeat, you can sound uncaring.  It is usually no good at all telling someone who has just been made redundant that this may turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to them, even if it’s true.  But it is important to be there for them!  Expect, and allow space for, them to go through a range of emotions.  Counsel them to seek outside help if you are worried.

Meanwhile If you have a question or just want to let off steam, by all mean feel free to drop me a line here.  I will do my very best to help.

Wendy Mason is a Life and Career Coach.  She helps people have the confidence they need to be successful at work and to change career. You can email her at or ring ++44(0)2084610114 

Some other great posts for you to read

Job Search and Motivation – when the motivation vampire strikes!
6 Tips for Confident Networking
Unemployed – Interview Techniques – Behavioural or Competency Based Interviewing 

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