#ConversationsWithACareerCoach: Helping retrenched workers is more than just a job, it is a calling
By Yogeswary D/O Nithiah Nandan, Senior Employability Coach, Employment & Employability Coach, e2i
You receive an urgent invite, and the next thing you know, you’re in a meeting room with a solemn-faced rep from HR. You hear the words but they are just noise and you can’t grasp their meaning right away, until realisation finally crashes down.
You have just been retrenched.
A blur of emotions
I have been at e2i for about 2 years now coaching retrenched workers. I have seen how emotional turmoil tears away at them following their retrenchment, how they swing from doubt, to rejection, to blame, and the inner frustration boiling over many unanswered questions.
‘What am I going to do now? How do I cope? How do I find another job?’
Let me illustrate this with my experience with one of my clients, Jane*.
A day in my life
Not too long ago, I received a retrenchment notification from the union. On further probing, I found out that the affected workers were informed of the bad news just a few hours ago, and the morale at the company was at rock bottom.
Although I’ve been through this many times, each retrenchment notice still gets me in the heart.
I dropped everything to focus on this new case, and started reviewing the profiles of the affected workers. When notifications come in at the last minute, it helps to have some background information before I talk to the affected workers.
Thereafter, I headed down to the company to give a briefing on how e2i could help retrenched workers, and it was there where I met Jane and her colleagues. My mission was simple - to build rapport with them, and to let them know they have a friend in me that they could turn to.
The initial shock
While I tried to share how e2i could support retrenched workers in this difficult situation, it also weighed on me that this was often the last thing on their minds. Jane was no exception.
Jane was in her late forties and had been a customer service officer with this company for nearly 20 years. This was the only job she had ever had, so her retrenchment came as a complete shock to her.
Jane was reticent during my briefing, exactly how many other retrenched workers tend to be in the beginning. Distraught was clearly etched on her face; her brows were furrowed and she seemed anxious and deep in thought.
At the end of the briefing, I informed the workers that I would be stationed at their company until the next day for any questions or advice.
The first step to recovery
Later that day, Jane came over and asked for a chat. She needed someone to share her struggles with. I was glad that she took that step to open up to me.
We sat down together and had an honest conversation about her fears. She nearly broke down as she related her worries about being too old to find another job. Moreover, she did not have a resume and was not confident of her interview skills. She recounted how she only needed to sign an application form 20 years ago when she applied for the job she had just lost.
Resolve and moving forward
Despite only having one job for most of her life, Jane was willing to adapt and improve herself, and this made it easier for her to look beyond the current challenges and forge ahead. I helped Jane by editing her resume before she started applying for jobs. Her positivity also served as a catalyst for others. When I met with Jane on the next occasion for a follow-up, she had even brought along other retrenched colleagues. I could tell that she taking small steps towards regaining her confidence.
The last time I spoke with Jane, she happily shared that she had found a job in the same industry. She was glad to have overcome her fears about her age and employability, and is thankful to be able to move forward with e2i’s help.
Many people ask me why I chose to work as an employability coach, given the emotional roller coaster rides I often have to accompany my clients on. While I have always been a people-person, my greatest satisfaction is in helping others get back on course, and being there to guide the way ahead.
Have you lost your job and are feeling lost?
Book an appointment online to meet e2i’s Employability Coach. e2i also accepts walk-ins at e2i west and e2i central.
*Client’s name and details have been changed for confidentiality reasons.