Being made redundant – opinions required!
I’ve sat on my thoughts about this for some time, and have just recently gotten around to writing them down. This blog is after all a cathartic / therapeutic exercise! I’d like to know what people think…
A bit of history:
Years ago, after working in financial services in London for some time, I moved back to my hometown. I wanted to be nearer family whilst my children were young. At the same time, my avid interest in technology prompted a change of career direction. I returned to University to take an I.T. degree, which established a more defined career path for me, mostly based around software testing. A few changes in role / employer post-university, alongside existing ability, gave me a solid all-round set of IT services & support skills.
Sadly made redundant in the autumn of 2020, I widened my job search beyond software testing. I eventually got a reply to a speculative application, and after interview, I was offered a role covering support, compliance / documentation and infrastructure. Assisting or reporting to senior members of the company, and with a team supporting clients, I hit the ground running. The role didn’t pay quite as much as some of my previous positions, but its variety, along with a learning curve for in-depth tasks my career had only briefly touched on previously, was enjoyable.
All going well!
Halfway through my six month probationary period, I felt well-liked by colleagues, had numerous responsibilities, and coped reasonably well with gaps in my knowledge when tasks were difficult. More experienced colleagues, although frequently busy, were happy to help when needed. The only issues I’d had were securing the assistance and training from busy colleagues when it was required, and a payroll issue that saw me paid short for 3 months (which was eventually made up and apologised for). But, I was doing well and only narrowly missed out on a quarterly staff award after several nominations. I was praised for how well I was doing, and an early end to my probationary period was promised. I was enjoying the challenge. The tide soon began to turn however…
Things began to change
A internal vacancy for a technical writer caught my eye, so I applied. Suddenly, there was noticeable concern amongst “powers that be” regarding someone still on their probation applying for a change of role! Open, friendly colleagues became a little more guarded, and I was pulled to one side and asked if I had any concerns about my work. I was offered the choice of continuing in my existing role and having my probation ended early as promised, or having it postponed whilst I pursued the application (on the grounds that were I to be successful, the new line manager would need to “assess” me). I chose the latter, but was sadly not successful in my application. The promised early end to probation never reappeared however.
At the same time, I had some issues at home, in the form of my adult daughter being made redundant and needing to be financially supported. This caused financial stress, and together with increasingly long work hours and task complexity, a few cracks began to show in my calm demeanour at work. Approaching me under the guise of a helpful “bedside manner”, management sought to identify anything problematic, and offering to lend an ear. I spoke to them of troubles and financial issues outside of work, my taking anti-depressant medication for stress and anxiety since an incident the year before, and the lengthy hours I was working. Supposedly genuine concern was expressed, and lip service paid to ensuring I was supported. Suggestions were made about booking training time with senior colleagues to reinforce knowledge, and I began to work from home a little more often to save money on transport.
A few days after this conversation with my line manager, a major IT infrastructure incident occurred on the one day of that particular week that I was in the office (courtesy of a lift from a colleague). A senior colleague went to the offsite location where the fault had occurred, whilst I liaised with him from the office and helped work towards a resolution. This was a difficult day, not just because of the issue, but because one of the first things that had happened to me that day was finding out from my cousin that my aunt had died! Unable to travel home outside of the lift from my colleague for financial reasons, I had to refuse the offer of going home for compassionate reasons put forward by the HR manager. I carried on working on normal responsibilities, alongside helping with a resolution to the major incident that had occurred.
A toxic end
The following week, on the next day I was in the office, I was summoned to a meeting with my line manager and the HR manager, and told I was being fired on the following grounds:
- On the day of the major IT incident (referred to above), I had not taken a lead in keeping colleagues informed of progress towards resolving the issue.
- A week or so before the incident, I’d been late with acting upon instructions given to me by two senior colleagues on an allegedly “urgent” IT matter.
- I was reprimanded for ignoring suggestions to book in training time with a particular senior colleague to reinforce and supplement knowledge.
- An administrative error the week before had seen a £25 item I ordered via the company Amazon account and had intended to pay for being charged to a company credit card in error.
- It was suggested my medication and stress levels made me unsuitable for the role.
Initially stunned into silence, during the meeting I eventually responded to the above as follows:
Regarding (1) above, I told the HR manager I’d been “head down” working hard on the issue, and hadn’t been aware of the need for any comms, having not been advised to send any by my senior colleague with whom I had been working to resolve the situation. The HR manager herself had sent comms advising staff of progress, so I considered the matter dealt with (and thought it was her responsibility to do so anyway, i.e. keeping the wider company informed), thought no more of it and carried on working. The HR manager also suggested that given the family bereavement I had experienced on that day, I should have gone home. My response that I’d been unable to afford to do so and was relying on a colleague for a lift was ignored.
Regarding the “urgent” matter referred to by (2) above; I knew from doing the same thing in a previous role and for personal purposes, that it was not as urgent as the colleagues concerned had made out. This assertion was ignored however.
Regarding (3), the suggestion re training time had only been made less than 2 weeks previously, and the colleague with whom I’d been told to book some training had very little availability during that time, with a diary regularly booked out 7am – 8pm! Again, this response was dismissed / ignored.
Regarding (4) above, that was an error on my part for which I apologised. I’d intended to pay with my own card but had been unable to do so on the payment page, so had brought cash into the office to rectify it on the day I was summoned to this meeting.
I had no response to their 5th point.
Conclusion – what do YOU think?
I went from enthusiastic, busy and keen to come to work despite the long hours, to depressed, stressed and fired in the space of a month or two. Management’s attitude towards me had changed after I applied for a different internal role, told them about my antidepressants and money problems at home, and acted contrary to suggestions made by colleagues with whom those present in my final meeting were personally friendly with. In the weeks after I left, I heard from several former colleagues with whom I was still in touch / friendly that increasing numbers of people were resigning / leaving. It sounds like an increasingly toxic organisation, but thankfully I am in a far better place now.
What do you think? I’d be interested to hear your comments.