I have some friends who have heard a rumor their company will be making big redundancies soon, and I really feel for them. One thing that’s guaranteed to cause instability in a person — and any organization — is the rumor of redundancy.
For many, the security of having a job is essential for their well-being. If you know anything about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, safety and employment are in the second level, just above breathing — so it’s pretty important.
If you are facing the threat of redundancy then I imagine you’re going through many different emotions right now, but there are some things you can do to help you deal with these rumors more easily.
Take my friends, for instance. A few welcome the idea of redundancy and are actively seeking to be made redundant. Others are struggling with the idea, mainly because of their unhealthy thinking about redundancy and how it will ultimately affect them.
It’s important to learn to deal with unknown threats well, otherwise anxiety can become overwhelming. Once that happens, it’s very easy to cause ourselves even more emotional, cognitive, and behavioral problems.
So what can those facing redundancy do?
First, understand that this is a rumor and may not be true. Worrying about something that doesn’t exist or over which you have no control is a waste of time and effort.
Second, check that you are not causing yourself anxiety by creating unhealthy thoughts and putting yourself in a “loss-condition.” That’s when you focus so much on the potential loss that you magnify it and take it to a catastrophic conclusion. For example, a person in a loss-condition might start thinking, “What if I lose my job? I can’t lose my job, that would be awful. What if I don’t find another one and can’t afford to pay my rent? My children won’t be able to go to school and my wife will leave me. I’ll then be alone and homeless on the streets. Oh God, I can’t stand it. This must not happen!”
The problem with creating this loss scenario is that once you think it, your mind will create a visual story of that thought and react accordingly. Your brain will begin to believe that thought is true. The more you think that irrational belief, the quicker your brain will recall that devastating visual and it’ll react to the threat by creating even more anxiety symptoms. Before you know it, you won’t be able to think clearly and cope with the threat or the reality of redundancy.
Essentially, you’ve created a fictitious scenario that your brain believes to be true. You’ll be convinced that this will be your ultimate outcome. This thinking is very dangerous to your health.
Third, while you are focusing on the loss scenario, you are not focused on what you might be able to do to help yourself if the redundancy does become real and does affects you. While you’re becoming more anxious and spending more time thinking about how awful life will be, you could have gotten your resume updated, gotten an idea about the state of your finances, checked out insurance policies to see if you have unemployment payment protection, and so on. (There are many good sites that offer practical advice.)
It’s perfectly healthy to have concerns over being made redundant, because it’s not a small thing. It’s also healthy to be cautious and prepared for the possibility that you may be made redundant. But it’s too easy to let our healthy concerns turn into unhealthy anxiety.
With just a small change in thinking, while rationally assessing the situation, you will be putting yourself in a healthier position to react, and manage any potential loss situation in healthier, more productive ways.