As M&S announce job cuts, experts share redundancy advice

Mental Health

Retail giant Marks & Spencer will be cutting 7,000 jobs over the next three month due to the coronavirus pandemic

With forced closures followed by social distancing regulations in force, it’s no surprise the UK high street has been hit hard during the coronavirus pandemic. Several big-names have already fallen into administration, including Laura Ashley, Debenhams, Oasis and Warehouse.

The latest worrying announcement comes from much-loved British retailer, Marks & Spencer who will be cutting 7,000 jobs over the next three months.

The cuts taking place will affect those working in stores as well as the central support centre and members of regional management. After shops reopened two months ago, total sales for the retailer have been down almost 30%, still being affected by a reduced footfall.

Marks & Spencer have said they hope a large proportion of job losses that will take place will come from voluntary redundancies and early retirements.

Keen to learn from this unprecedented event, Chief Executive Steve Rowe says the company outlined plans in May to deliver a stronger and more agile business – the Never the Same Again programme.

“As part of our Never The Same Again programme to embed the positive changes in ways of working through the crisis, we are today announcing proposals to further streamline store operations and management structures. These proposals are an important step in becoming a leaner, faster business set up to serve changing customer needs and we are committed to supporting colleagues through this time.”

The hope is that from this business shake-up, more jobs will ultimately be created, likely in online fulfilment and a new ambient food warehouse.

I’ve been made redundant, now what?

Whatever industry you’re in, if you’ve been made redundant, chances are you’re feeling a mixture of emotions, including fear and worry about what the future may hold. Here, we look at some key advice from experts and career coaches on what to do next.

Create a support network

In her article, Bouncing back after redundancy – your personal action plan, life coach Suzanne Griffiths notes that before getting into the practicalities of finding work, you need to take time to process what’s happened. Highlighting the importance of understanding your emotions and keeping a positive mindset, Suzanne explains that practising self-care and building a support network is key.

“Many people think that self-care is selfish and don’t like the idea of putting themselves first, however, you’re going through major change and all that this entails so you need to be looking after yourself, in whichever way works for you.

“Having a team of people around you to support you through this time is essential. When I’m talking to clients I always refer to Ellie Goulding’s song ‘Army’ – you want your own personal army around you for both emotional and practical support, as well as positivity and encouragement.”

Take stock and re-evaluate your life

Career coach and transition specialist Steve Preston notes that job hunting post-coronavirus will look different.

“As we are in uncharted times, it means thinking differently. With so many jobs disappearing, there is no guarantee that the work you do will still be required and, if so, maybe not in the same way it was before.

“Creativity and innovation will become ever more important.”

Taking time to stop and consider not only what you can offer the job market, but what you truly want from it moving forward is important. When you have a clear idea, Steve recommends the following:

“Reconnect with people from your past, who could be influential. Focus on recommendations, referrals and introductions, as these are the best ways to get to people who can open doors for you or offer you jobs.

“Be opportunistic and look to ‘crystalise a need’ in companies and organisations where they are likely to find your skillset desirable. Target speculative applications to a named person e.g. line manager, showcasing how you can add value to the company/organisation, especially in the current climate.

“Create a strong online brand and presence, embrace social media to do this, especially LinkedIn. It’s also a great place to find jobs advertised but even more importantly to develop and optimise your networks.”

Make connections, not applications

Career coach and author of #ENTRYLEVELBOSS: A 9-step guide to finding a job you like (and actually getting hired to do it) Alexa Shoen shares a range of tips in her article Coping with redundancy and job hunting.

One of these tips is to think about connections over applications.

“Studies show that 70-80% of open roles never even make it online and are filled through personal connections.

“How can I help? is a magical phrase right now and will open up doors in ways that you never could have expected. You have all kinds of contacts in your own life who are dealing with unprecedented situations at the moment – and your skillset could be exactly what they need.”

Accept change

Noting the grieving process that comes with redundancy in her article Dealing with redundancy: How to grieve, grief counsellor and author Lianna Champ encourages us to accept the things outside our realm of control.

“We have to let go of trying to control and intellectualise every aspect of our lives and become more fluid, especially when something drastic happens to us, like losing our job. Don’t let it define you. Use this time to improve your learning whether through an online course or volunteering work.

“There is always something to do if we look. Have faith. Show the world that you can adapt and find excitement in the unknown – it could just end up being a blessing in disguise.”

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