How to avoid a genuine redundancy

In today’s volatile work environment, with businesses changing daily and technology replacing human processes and skills at every turn, many employees fear being made redundant in Australia. Many organisations will explore all possible alternatives to making an employee's job redundant, considering the legal implications around affected employees and the potential negative effects on morale that often accompany the redundancy process.

Common actions an organisation may take instead of redundancy: freezing external recruitment, stopping voluntary overtime, offering voluntary redundancy packages, secondments and career breaks, reducing normal working hours/days worked and reviewing employee benefits.

Sometimes, redundancies are unavoidable and sudden. Generally, redundancy occurs in circumstances when your employer's business closes, becomes insolvent or bankrupt, changes direction or major changes like merging with another business. Other times, they are a little more predictable, like when an emerging technology suddenly takes over an industry, automating a large portion of someone’s job. The minimum notice period required by the National Employment Standards ensures that employees are provided with sufficient advance notice before any significant changes to their employment status occur.

In these cases, it pays to be thinking strategically about your role within your organisation well before the consultation process begins so that you can future-proof your career and avoid the uncertainty surrounding redundancy.

As a recruitment agency, we've seen it all and can offer helpful career advice. Here are five key actions you can take.

Work on your transferable skills

Continuous learning and skill development are essential to staying relevant not only in your workplace but also in the job market. Identify the skills that are in demand and actively work on acquiring or enhancing them. Consider taking courses, attending workshops, or pursuing further education to broaden your knowledge base and make yourself more valuable to employers.

Expanding your skill set beyond your primary area of expertise can make you more versatile and less susceptible to redundancy. Look for opportunities to develop in different areas or take on additional responsibilities at work. By diversifying your skills, you can potentially transition to different roles or industries if needed.

Soft skills are in demand in many organisations. The ability to adapt and change, to communicate and think strategically are highly sought after. Demonstrate your ability and willingness to manage change within your role and organisation; work on your verbal and written communication skills and show that you’re a problem solver.  This way, if your technical skills and experience suddenly become redundant, you’ll be more likely to stay within your organisation in a different role, as your employer will want to keep your excellent new skills around.

Network within your own organisation

Think networking is just for when you’re job hunting? Think again. Being an active member of your organisation, meeting people from other departments, learning how they contribute to the business as a whole and making a good impression is an immensely valuable tactic for preventing redundancy. It could be as straight-forward as showing up to after-work activities and functions, joining a social committee, volunteering for secondment or shadowing. Learn people’s names and add them to your LinkedIn profile. In short, become a visible and essential part of your organisation.

Networking is crucial for career growth and reducing the risk of redundancy. Building a strong network of professional and social contacts can lead to new opportunities, referrals, and insights into potential job openings. It also helps you stay connected with the pulse of your industry, making you more adaptable to changes.

Learn how to operate the technology

If you feel like there’s a substantial part of your job that could likely be absorbed by AI, one way to get ahead of the curve is to learn how to implement and operate the technology itself. Understanding how it works, what it can do and being able to train others to use it can help you avoid redundancy.

Stay informed about the latest trends and developments in your field. This includes staying updated on technological advancements, market shifts, and changes in consumer preferences. Being aware of industry trends allows you to adapt yourself accordingly, making you less likely to become redundant.

Innovate within your role

If you’re being made redundant, you don’t want to be the last one to know. Actively seek efficiencies and opportunities and communicate these with your manager. This will show you’re committed to the business’s operations as a whole, not just thinking about your job in silo. Ensure you’ve also got a plan to make the most of the time you’ll save from introducing a new technique or system.

Advocate for yourself

A big part of avoiding redundancy is to make sure you’re communicating your value. Claiming and sharing your achievements is something that many people are reluctant to do, but it’s an essential way to take ownership of your job and career. Marketing yourself by building up your personal brand – posting on LinkedIn, writing, sharing, speaking, and leading – helps decision-makers pay attention to how integral you are to your team and the business.

Be proactive in your career by actively seeking new opportunities and being open to change. Stay vigilant about the job market and be willing to adapt to emerging trends or technological advancements. Embrace change as an opportunity for growth rather than resisting it. By staying flexible and proactive, you can position yourself as a valuable asset and reduce the risk of redundancy.

Ultimately, there may be nothing you can do to completely prevent redundancy. However, by following the tips above, it may be possible to avoid redundancy. If you don’t manage to avoid it, following the advice above will help you over the long term in your career.

Know your rights: redundancy pay and more

It helps to understand your rights to ensure you experience a genuine redundancy. There are helpful government resources that define redundancy and provide information on redundancy pay, redundancy entitlements, what happens to accrued sick leave and annual leave, redundancy notice period, the fair work act, wrongful termination, how to manage an unfair dismissal claim and other employment issues:

If you are concerned about your financial situation in the event your employment ends, Services Australia has a free service to help you make decisions about money and finances, call 13 23 00.

Next steps

We're ready to help. If your role is made redundant it's important to remain positive. We can set you up with temporary work to give you breathing space or find you a new job.

Get ready to meet with potential employers with these resources:

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