Making a Pivot How to Turn Redundancy at Work Into an Opportunity

Making a Pivot How to Turn Redundancy at Work Into an Opportunity
Jobstreet content teamupdated on 03 February, 2023

Facing redundancy at work can be a very challenging experience. The reality is there’s no straight answer to knowing how to avoid redundancy at work. It’s something that’s not in your control. After all, no one wants to receive that dreaded retrenchment e-mail. But if this has happened to you, take a deep breath, and remember that it’s not the end of the world. It might not be what you expected, but you are not alone.

In 2022, e-commerce giant Shopee laid off employees from their Malaysian operations, joining their fellow Southeast Asian counterparts in layoffs across the region. Carsome, Malaysia’s first tech unicorn, also announced layoffs to its workforce in the same year because of the global economic outlook.

Whether you’re dealing with being dismissed or wondering what happens when your job is made redundant, this guide will show you how to turn redundancy into an opportunity.

What does it mean to be redundant at work?

People often use the words “redundancy”, “retrenchment”, “layoffs”, and “downsizing” interchangeably. It helps to know the differences between these words.

Redundancy is when positions are reduced due to different factors. These can include restructuring because of economic or technological factors, eliminating jobs, or changing job scopes. For example, a company has chosen to automate certain processes, removing the need for people who work on those. They are made redundant.

On the other hand, a case in Malaysia defines retrenchment as “the discharge of surplus labour or staff by the employer for any reasons whatsoever otherwise than as a punishment inflicted by way of disciplinary action”.

Layoffs can also be an effect of redundancy. However, it can be temporary, while retrenchment is permanent. For instance, a restaurant struggling during a pandemic can temporarily lay off its servers for up to a month, then call them back to work once the number of diners returns to normal.

Lastly, downsizing is when a company reduces its size. This process often involves redundancy and retrenchment. However, this is not always the case. For instance, a company may retrench some employees while giving others the option to transfer to another department or office.

(Read more: Laid Off vs Fired: How to Prepare for Unexpected Unemployment )

What is the compensation for redundancy in Malaysia?

If you are terminated due to redundancy, you are eligible for a severance package to compensate for the job loss. The amount depends on your length of stay in the company.

Amount of severance payLength of stay at the company
10 days’ worth of salary for each year of serviceWithin the first two years
15 days’ worth of salary for each year of serviceTwo to five years
20 days’ worth of salary for each year of serviceMore than five years

How Can You Turn Redundancy at Work into an Opportunity?

Leave on good terms.

It can be easy to feel resentful toward your employer, but burning bridges is not a clever career move. After all, you could wind up meeting your colleagues again, especially if you work in the same industry. Besides, a good referral letter from your manager could be helpful when you look for your next job. Your former colleagues might also be able to point you toward new opportunities somewhere down the line.

Know your rights.

Find out what your compensation is for being marked as redundant. Malaysian law also requires that your employer notifies you ahead of time before you are let go. The notice period is as follows:

If you have worked with the company:

  • For less than two years, the notice period is four weeks
  • For two to five years, the notice period is six weeks
  • For more than five years, the notice period is eight weeks

(Read more: 5 Most Important Things to Know About Malaysian Employment Laws )

Process the shock.

Give yourself time to process the emotions: shock, disbelief, disappointment, anger, fear – you’ll expectedly experience each in varying degrees. Talk to coworkers, friends, and family to absorb the situation. Talking it over will give you a chance to vent, get things off your chest, and, most importantly, provide you with different perspectives on the matter.

Stay positive.

Once you get over the initial shock, don’t wind up wallowing in self-pity. One way to do this is to avoid tying your self-worth to your career. Remember that you were not made redundant; your job was. Even if you knew how to avoid redundancy at work, it is sometimes inevitable. Your employer hired you because they found you a good fit for the job. Had the circumstances been different, they would have kept you.

(Read more: How to Successfully Handle Unemployment Challenges and Stay Positive on Your Career Journey )

Empower yourself by adopting a growth mindset. It means believing you can always learn new skills, including those needed to find a new job.

Do an objective self-review.

Use this as a chance to ask for constructive feedback from your manager or department head. Factor their responses into your assessment so you can develop a self-improvement action plan to move forward. It’s good to stay open to criticism but bear in mind that your retrenchment is mainly the result of economic forces and factors not in your control rather than your ability to do the job.

Explore your options.

If you’ve ever wished for a chance to start over and try something completely different, this is your opportunity. If you’re being thrust into a position of change anyway, why not make it a change you’ll relish rather than resent? Being made redundant might just be a blessing in disguise if you’ve secretly been itching to explore a different career path or start your own business.

Take control by creating an action plan.

Take stock of your finances and find out how long you can get by without a job. Then list the steps you need to take to find work. Do you need to upskill or build your portfolio? Are you planning to take on temporary work?

While you’re at it, take the time to reflect on what you want from your next job, whether it’s flexible work arrangements or different company culture. Remember to treat your job search like a real job. Determine how many hours a day you’ll spend looking for work and stick to your schedule.

Tap your professional network.

Catch up with former colleagues and ask whether they know of any openings or opportunities. You can also ask friends, relatives, and even old professors. If you’ve never been to a networking session before, now is the time to start. After all, recruiters often attend these events to find new talent as well.

Prepare for your job search.

Improve your chances of landing a job interview by tailoring your resume to each job opening. Do your research on the companies you’re interested in, and practice answering the most common interview questions.

When interviewers ask why you left your previous job, be honest about being made redundant. After all, employers can be more understanding about this than you think. Simply answer matter-of-factly, then move the discussion to the qualifications and skills that make you the best fit for the job. You can even talk about what you learned from the experience of being retrenched and the steps you’ve taken to grow and overcome this setback.

While dealing with redundancy at work can be quite daunting, you can #SEEKBetter jobs by maintaining a can-do attitude and maximising the resources at your disposal.

Ready to jump back into the job market? Update your JobStreet profile and be ready to nail those interviews with our Practice Tool.

For more expert tips and advice on employee rights and job hunting, check out our Career Resources Hub.

Applying for jobs

Browse top search terms

Did you know many candidates preparing a resume also research their industry by exploring top search terms?
Did you find this helpful?

Subscribe to Career Advice

Get expert career advice delivered to your inbox.
You can cancel emails at any time. By clicking ‘subscribe’ you agree to Jobstreet’s Privacy Statement.