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.