Getting retrenched isn’t on anyone’s cards. It’s a terrible experience. What should you do if that happens to you? Here are some ways to cope with retrenchment in Singapore.
The global workforce has seen an uptick of quiet quitters and waves of the Great Resignation in the past year. However, one practice that still frequently occurs today is retrenchment. You would’ve heard about the massive layoffs at Twitter, Meta, Amazon, and Shopee recently. According to the Ministry of Manpower, 4,000 workers in Singapore were retrenched in the first quarter of this year. The last time we hit that number was in 2016 and 2017.
Being retrenched is a shocking and devastating predicament. Besides losing financial and job security, there’s also your mental health to take care of. It can happen to anyone, so here are some things you should do if you’ve been retrenched.
How to handle retrenchment in Singapore
1. Examine your contract’s fine print
Understandably, you’ll be dumbstruck upon receiving the news. However, it’s essential to clarify the next steps. Look at your contract and confirm that your notice period aligns with what was previously indicated. If you’re asked to leave without notice, file a claim with the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) within six months from your final day.
You should also request a termination letter from your human resource department and review it extensively. Be sure to clarify with them if you have any questions. Take your time to understand the whole process.
While doing the above, don’t forget to check if you’re entitled to a severance package. According to the Ministry of Manpower, the recommended amount depends on your years with the company. You should receive between two weeks and a month’s salary for every year of service.
2. Keep calm and maintain professionalism
Retrenchment isn’t the most favourable outcome, but don’t let the news affect your relationship with your employer. Speak to your reporting manager and request a referral letter. And don’t badmouth them to anyone! It’s not a good look for you because you might cross paths again. So stay calm and collected, even when you’re feeling dejected and grappling with the termination.
Plus, you’re still legally bound to your contract even after you’ve left, so make sure you abide by the standard operating procedures. This includes not divulging pertinent information to competitors and following through with the handover process.
3. Make sense of your dollars (and cents)
Financial instability is the main thing you’ll experience after being retrenched. What you have to do now is reevaluate your expenses and prioritise building an emergency fund. Ensure you have at least three to six months’ salary set aside – you should be doing this while still employed.
Regularly set aside 15% to 20% of your income in a separate account. This inculcates the habit of saving, so if you do ever get laid off, you’ll have money to tide you over while you look for a new job. You can also seek financial assistance with SupportGoWhere.
4. Don’t stop crying your heart out
Like a breakup, you’ll experience a rollercoaster of emotions after being retrenched. It’ll start with shock and denial, followed by anger, guilt, depression, and eventually, acceptance. Give yourself time to absorb and process everything. Don’t take it personally – plenty of other people have been and are in the same boat as you. There’s nothing to be ashamed about.
If it’s too much for you to bear, talk it out with someone you trust. Otherwise, you can consider counselling. Each year, the Singapore Counselling Centre sees on average 30% of older professionals, managers, executives, and technicians who experience retrenchment. If you’re not ready to meet someone, download a mental health app and pour your heart out.
5. Catch up on things you’ve put off
It’s not all doom and gloom after retrenchment. Consider your unemployment period the time to do things you’ve meant to do. Been putting off exercising? Strap on your shoes and go for a run or hit the gym. Maybe you’re keen on a new activity. Well, now’s the time to pick up tufting or pottery. Or, you can pack your bags and go for a quick getaway or visit a new travel destination. When was the last time you travelled out of the country, anyway?
In short, do something that’ll make you smile again. As Elle Woods in Legally Blonde wisely said, endorphins make you happy.
6. Time for a resume renaissance
When you’re ready to put yourself out there again, get your professional life in order. First, update both your CV and LinkedIn profile. Let everyone know you’re open to new job opportunities. Tap into your network for recommendations. And don’t forget to make use of the referral letter when applying for employment.
Now’s also a good time to reflect on your career choices. Look at your skillsets and qualifications to assess whether you can switch things up with a career change. Ask yourself questions such as where you want to work and what position you’re aiming for. If you’ve been dreaming of starting your own business, perhaps this is the sign that you should go for it.
7. Unleash your new potential
So you’ve decided on a new career path. What’s next? Use your SkillsFuture credits by signing up for courses to level up your skillset. There are plenty of options to check out, such as social media marketing and programming. You’ll attain certification when you’ve completed your training, which you can use when applying for jobs. SkillsFuture can also help you get job placements.
8. It’s okay to ask for help
Job hunting may be an individual pursuit, but that doesn’t mean you have to go about it alone. Workforce Singapore provides career advice and guidance to those seeking employment. You’ll be paired with a career ambassador or coach, who’ll enlighten you by identifying your goals and supporting you on your journey. Best of all, this service is free!
While getting retrenched isn’t the most ideal situation, know that it’s a temporary situation. With these practical steps, you’ll overcome the tide and emerge stronger than ever.