There are things that you think would never happen to you. Sometimes you get to comfortable in a zone when everything seems to be going well. You have a job, which pays you well and gives you great employee perks, trains you up professionally and you just think you are set for life. Then one day, unexpectedly you get laid off. What do you do? No job security, reduced income, no health insurance and you are faced with psychological trauma.
Thankfully, I was prepared (in a better way) before I got laid off. Yes, I got laid off from my job at one of the oil and gas companies most people were fighting to get employed in. It’s been a year and two months now. I have had most people ask if I was still Tullow and my response which usually is in the negative is mostly met with surprise. I have held back revealing that I was laid off.
I have been meaning to write this post for some time now. The post has written itself on the grey matter of my brain for some months now. I have mulled over it and wondered whether I should or not. It then struck me that I should. The reason wasn’t only for it to be a form of exit for the stagnant pool of emotions to gush out but also because I believe it is a form of sharing how I unknowingly prepared for a moment like this and how you should also prepare for the same.
How did it all start? As employees we had been foretold of an upcoming laying off of employees across the globally located offices. Everyone was going to be affected. From London, Ireland to Ghana. What if I got laid off I thought to myself? Everyone had the same thoughts running through their minds. There was so much trepidation in the air. The corridors were rife with grapevine news of who got laid off in the UK offices. People I knew started packing files and personal items just in case they got the ax.
Was I that dispensable? Could the company do away with a loyal employee that they had trained internationally into Occupational Hygiene? Would they throw away the cost of all that investment? These were some of the questions I asked myself. I nevertheless prepared myself for a storm. If it didn’t happen, Glory to God. If it did, I will weather it and continue on a path I had already been creating for some time.
Some years ago, on my way to work.
“I am sorry, the company has decided to let you go. We are thankful for your loyalty over the years…blah blah.” The ax swung! No matter how psychologically you have prepared for such a meeting, nothing prepares you for the effect of those words. It struck deep. It will strike deep. My heart thumped. Your heart will thump. Present at the same meeting, were my Line Manager and immediate boss and an HR rep. My immediate boss looked dismal. Did he know before that moment? I didn’t know. I got up numbly and went off to pack my things into a box. UK / US style. I didn’t have a plant on my desk though. My hands shook as I added the last bit of things I had prepared just in case. The “ just in case “ had actually happened. I was out of the building within 10 minutes. There wasn’t enough time to bid goodbye to work friends. What are you going to say even? “Chale, they said I should go oh.” Nah.
Back in the days at the office with my friend Emmanuel.
I had told my Mom of the upcoming layoffs so I told her to prepare herself as well, just in case. I called her and told her that the “ just in case “ had happened. Her disappointment and shock was summed into a single word, “OH!”
As I drove home, I tried to be strong. My emotions were haywire. Shock that I was dispensable and a relief that at least I was being compensated more than I would have made had I quit my job. That had actually crossed my mind some months back. Job fatigue or a desire for change I think.
How did I survive the layoff? Well, it wasn’t an easy journey. I experienced all kinds of emotions and that alone is enough to commit the not-so-strong to a mental institution. I hope these points will be a worthy experience to share and that you pick up some salient points as well.
Have diverse streams of Income
- Although I didn’t ever expect to be laid off, I have never been one to be content at earning a single income. My job paid me well enough to be content with just one source. However, I read books and listened to renowned writers and preachers who often counseled on the importance of having several streams of incomes. I started blogging in 2011 not to make money but to open the tap of my passion of writing and sharing my knowledge. It gradually opened up avenues for me to earn money on the side. It didn’t pay as much as my 8-5 but it was an opportunity to save every penny in addition to my salary. Today, creating content is now a full-time work I am immensely talented at and it has won me Best Lifestyle Blog in Africa. 😄 This is how I survived. Then I set up a social media management startup with my partner a few months after. I was able to wake up the next day after the layoff and write like nothing had happened. Don’t get comfortable in your current 8-5 if that’s all you have.
Build Your Influence
- I built my digital and social influence ever since I took blogging more seriously. It’s something you have to do if you want to be an authority in digital media. I got recognized as a go-to woman for social media tips, blogging mentorship etc. I gave my knowledge and got back influence. Even if you don’t have digital influence, start setting yourself up as an authority in an area you are skilled in. Whether it’s in youth mentorship or childcare, invest in yourself and think of how other people can benefit from your knowledge, which is a solution to their problems.
Pray A lot
- I prayed a lot about my career and what my next steps was going to be. Was it God who led me onto another path by moving me out of where I was? Perhaps. I inclined to believe that. My 8-5 taught me a lot about organizational structure, people management, how to organize events, teamwork etc. I believe God wouldn’t just move me out to another area without first preparing me for what lay ahead. After the layoff, it was prayer that became my outlet for venting. Depression tried to overtake me. Prayer overtook it. There were times that I was so low that waking up to do anything was a nuisance. I just couldn’t be bothered. Then I would quietly whisper to God, ‘Please help me.’ He did.
Talk to Someone
- It always helps to talk to someone you trust about what your next steps will be. Don’t choose someone who will just whatsapp your predicament to konkonsa whatsapp group chats. You can target your Pastor or a relative who has experience in HR matters. When I spoke to my Pastor before the layoff, he was confident that I would be okay. He counseled me with really sound advice. My aunt was priceless. She had been an HR manager for almost 15 years at an international bank so she was pretty much an expert in layoff matters. Don’t keep your emotions bottled in. That would do you more harm than good. By talking to someone, I was able to free off plaguing blood-sucking questions on my mind. I also shared my frustration with my then-boyfriend who is now my husband. The thing is, no one will understand how you feel if they haven’t been through it before. But never look down a comforting hand or encouraging words.
Build Your Self-Esteem
- I never allowed any setback to reduce my self-esteem. I can think back on broken relationships, visa bouncing, failed exams and parental divorce. And now a layoff. I have never allowed any setback to make me think less of myself. I never thought I wasn’t good enough if something didn’t work out. Setbacks to me were just moments of redirection to a greater good. All I had to do was persevere which lead to a stronger spirit. It’s interesting how most of my Aunties and personal relations told me that ‘I was strong woman’ so I would be fine. It revealed to me that indeed people have watched me over the years and noticed my survival instincts. That didn’t happen overnight, however. It took mental strength and reminders that I was an overcomer.
o Speak positivism over yourself. Look in the mirror and speak life to yourself.
o Don’t allow negativism to overcome your positivism. And trust me when you are laid off, there will loads of it coming your way.
I have taken several other steps to be where I am now. I work more remotely instead of being at a sedentary desk now. I am more fulfilled in what I do now but there are loads more I can do to be where my heart yearns to go. I have the time to explore and delve more into several passions to travel and experience the world. Now that I am married, I wont be doing that alone. 😊 Will I ever get into an 8-5? I don’t think so. I choose to consult now. It’s less stressful.
Always be prepared in life. There are storms that we never expect to happen to us. I believe that when we are more prepared, the battering of the storm is less harsh. We cant be fully prepared for every storm. We just pray for perseverance and strength when it rises up.
Have you ever been laid off? How did you get through it? Do you know anyone who got laid off? How did they get through it? Please share your thoughts below.