UNCERTAIN KNOCKS: Some advice if your job is at risk

There’s a lot of uncertainty in public sector comms right now with people’s jobs under threat.

Large swathes of the NHS have been put under review with the likelihood of some people losing their jobs and for those who are left facing a bigger workload.

It’s a tough time. I thought I’d briefly blog with some pointers for you on how to navigate the process.

I’ve been involved in such processes three times. Two ended up in redundancy and both times I was fine with that. Other people are veterans of more than a dozen reviews and restructures. Heck, they’ve been around the block.

Here’s some pieces of advice for you.

Join a union

Let me tell you a story. When I was 21 I got a job in a newspaper darkroom to keep body and soul together while I was working out post-University what I wanted to do. After two weeks it was announced that the paper was being put up for sale. Ten months later the hammer finally fell. Six of us were made redundant and three kept their jobs.

At the start of the process, the newspaper proprietor tried to cut corners. One of the printers was in a union. One phone call later, the union organiser was delivering chapter and verse as to what the process was and what would be happening. There was no more corner cutting. It was black and white.

As a result of this experience, I’ve been an NUJ member since 1995. What’s union membership? It’s basically an insurance policy against rainy days. Restructuring and redundancy maybe a new process for you. Have someone in your corner who knows the law backwards. HR are there for the organisation. Not for you. 

When I came to leave local government, I took voluntary redundancy, Having a union rep in the room meant they had to do everything by the book.

You can join the NUJ here

Be professional 

Now you’ve got your union membership sorted it’s now down to how you behave. Be professional. Don’t be a dick. Be polite. Address the question. Be civil.

Ignore rumour 

There’s going to be a lot of discussion in the weeks ahead and an absence of hard facts. Rumour will become fact for half a day then exposed as false. From experience, don’t listen to it. Don’t add to it. Hard facts in writing are the currency. Speculation isn’t. It’s damaging to you. Ignore it.

Keep a record

When you’re informed of the process keep a record. When you are communicating, keep a record. When something is said to you go back and confirm it in email.   

One door closes and another opens

When I was a kid my Mum told me that when a door closes another opens. You won’t appreciate being told this at the time and often the door closing can be tough and painful. But it’s true. You may well look back in months and years to come and with hindsight be pleased that this fork in the road presented itself. There is life beyond your current employer. 

That cliche about ‘it’s not you, it’s the post’? It’s true.

Good luck. 

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1 Comment

  1. I was a former NUJ FoC back in my newspaper days, but nowadays, being in local government comms, I belong to UNISON. For me this is a much better option as I have members across all different job types and grades.

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