The headline of Britain’s Daily Telegraph for 20 October 2010 reads, 500,000 public sector jobs to go.
While the ultimate impact on the viability of the UK’s economy remains to be seen, the impact on employees—both job losers and job stayers—will be significant.
Financial Impact: With private sector employment remaining in a slump, many people laid off will have a long struggle to find comparable employment to replace their lost jobs. Financial support for the unemployed is also diminishing.
Emotional Impact: The inevitable pain associated with dismissal is worsened when the root causes for the situation is so distant from the individual. The problem is the UK economy as a whole. Positions are not redundant because of poor economic performance or poor quality in their work unit or their organization. It won’t seem fair at all to those bearing the consequences.
Identity Impact: In many instances, the jobs are gone forever. The intention of the cuts in many cases is to eliminate an entire kind of job from public sector organizations. The change calls for major retooling of career expectations.
Impact on Stayers: While employment remains in the dumps, corporate economic employment has thrived. The recent improvements in productivity translate into fewer people maintaining steady production. In many instances, this represents working smarter. In other instances it means working harder or longer or cheaper. Stayers may be troubled by the lack of justice in selecting those who were laid off: if the choices seem arbitrary (but personally fortunate) this time, similar choices could well be arbitrary, but personally unfortunate in the future.
As large scale shifts in employment occur around the world, people must manage a careful course through troubled landscapes. National economic policies may completely trump the working relationships of individuals with their employers. The consequences are potentially huge on a personal level.
Thriving in this volatile world requires people to attend to developing their skills and abilities continuously, as well as their perspectives.
A history of working with engagement leaves a record of quality performance.
It also develops resilience. Working well in uncertain time builds capacities that will help a complex career thrive rather than flounder in difficult times.