Stage 2: Denial and Guilt of The Break-Up Series

15 Aug 2019

Denial & Guilt

Who’s to blame – the employer or employee? 

  1. Role Redundancy (48%)

    Denial Factor: 4/5 

    Truth: “They must be mistaken and I am certain they will call me to come to work tomorrow.”

    Job loss is hard to swallow and is a real struggle for anyone who had experienced such. What’s worse is when it’s a restructuring issue and nothing to do with your performance. To survive through this turmoil, it takes strong willpower for any individual to move towards a positive direction but for the majority, self-induced guilt takes over and they begin pondering on countless what-ifs that possibly could have changed circumstances. 

    Furthermore, role redundancy does not just impact those who are leaving but also those who still stay within the organisation. Survivor’s guilt is prominent when colleagues watch their trusted teammates leave the organisation they begin to wonder when is their turn to pack their bags.

    How to overcome this: 

    Employers: Communication and empathy is necessary when you are delivering the news. Employees typically go into immediate denial, so take note and keep repeating in a clear and concise manner to let the news sink in. Are there any suitable alternative employment options? If you have had a pleasant working experience with this staff, put in a good word and recommend the individual to alternative departments or your network. The key to handling role redundancy is managing the psychological impact on those that have left and those that remain. Transparency for surviving employees is crucial and communicating the assurance whilst their roles are being transformed.

    Employees: As difficult as it is, you have to get through it as soon as possible. The sooner you do so, the faster you will move on. Try to not take it personally as a genuine redundancy could mean that your function in the firm is no longer necessary. Update your CV and begin searching for positions that you are interested to give a shot in by including your accomplishments and existing skill set. A genuine redundancy places you in a strong position to tell a story about what happened without blaming anyone, without being rude about your ex-employer.

  2. Lack of Business Processes & Systems (10%)

    Denial Factor: 2/5

    Truth: “All seems fine to me, everything is business as usual. Why change something that is not broken?”

    The demands of the business will never remain stagnant. A process that may have worked previously may not be efficient when there’s an increase or decrease in business demands. Thus, the organisational structure is crucial for any business. A strong organisational structure enables the firm to measure and improve productivity levels and ultimately increase revenue generation. The lack of organisational structure is damaging to any business and would affect many areas – clients’ misperception of the business, a significant drop in employee morale, decrease in sales revenue  and perhaps even a need to shut down operations.

    How to overcome this: 

    Employers: Recognise, acknowledge and implement a constantly adaptive and systematic approach to the growing business operations is a crucial step. This ensures that employees have a common goal to work together with senior managers. A departmentalisation of duties is to promote collaboration among employees by leveraging on their skills to make processes efficient and effective – by asking an employee to bite more than he or she can chew would only result in a reduction of productivity levels. If an employee or your teammate decides to speak up about an inefficient process to accommodate the change in business demands, it’s time to give them your ears and hear them out. 

    Employees: If you are taking on more work on your plate and cannot seem to be able to cope with the volume, it’s time to speak up. Small firms do require people to be willing to take on a wider spectrum of work but that is (and must be) relative to the volume of work needed to be completed. Good employees typically feel guilty for speaking up on their inability to manage their work – either by staying late or perhaps even skipping a meal just to get the job done. It’s better to speak up than to affect your mental and physical health in the long run.

  3. Salaries (4%)

    Denial Factor: 3/5

    Truth: “I feel like I am doing more work than xx employee but why am I getting paid less than xx employee?” 

    The above excuse is commonly heard – here are a couple of aspects to consider: when did the individual join the firm? Is the complainant on the same corporate rank as xx employee? What metrics were used to define who contributed more? Is the employee more of a team player or an individual contributor? Though there are many websites that share the average payscale of the specified job, it all boils down to the individual.

    How to overcome this: 

    Employers: Speak to your HR department on how much the market pays for similar talent and are there any further intangible benefits that your firm can benefit the staff (e.g clocking off an hour earlier on certain days, employee appreciation days, medical or dental benefits or even a couple of extra days off). If you do have performance metrics to abide by and it does affect the employee’s salary, then be fair and refer to it!

    Employees: Actually being underpaid versus harbouring the feeling that one is underpaid (denial) are two separate issues. If you are getting promotions without a salary raise compared to peers at the same corporate rank – you need to evaluate your career decision. However, if you identify with the latter group, consider having a confidential conversation with your employer on salary negotiation or work towards a common goal with expectations clearly defined to land you a salary raise.  

  4. Mismatched Expectations (14%)

    Denial Factor: 3.5/5

    Truth: “The scope is not like the job description but my employer pays well/ has great benefits, maybe I’ll just stay a little longer before moving to another firm.”

    Do not believe such a myth! The above statement is neither beneficial to the individual or the firm. The mismatched skill set would not correspond with the employee’s existing title and both sides would have wasted time and effort without accomplishing either individual or firm’s interests.

    How to overcome this: 

    Employers: Make sure that new hires are clear of what is expected in the firm, how their role fits within the firm, and how it will impact the bottom line. In the event that the employee’s role has evolved, ensure that the title of the employee corresponds with the scope of work he/ she does. It’s crucial to know that employees are with the firm for the right reasons and with the right attitude.

    Employees: By encouraging a mismatch of job expectations, individuals will also be discouraging proper on-the-job learning and cultivating irrelevant skill set(s) in correspondence to the job title. Even if the individual was paid well for doing a job, future employers may not see the same value that he/she may be able to contribute should the individual opt for a similar opportunity to his/her title.

  5. Under-appreciated Work (9%)

    Denial Factor: 2.5/5

    Truth: “I am certain that the firm appreciates me, I have been serving them for 10 years and counting, how can they not?”

    The question is: is your work often taken credit by someone else? Were your ideas not heard during meetings but if another person brings the same idea up he/she gets credit for it? When was the last time you saw a promotion or a salary raise? While it’s generous to not sweat the small stuff (it may even help you at work!) but ensure that it does not create a long-term resentment in you. Just like relationships, at times a party would be taken for granted by constantly overcompensating while the other party is constantly at the receiving end.

    How to overcome this: 

    Employers: Effectively communicate with employees and practice fair employment practices. Losing talented employees is an expensive cost, find out what are the employees’ long-term goals and empower them to work towards that goal. Denying growth opportunities for any employee would do more damage than good to the firm, reflecting only stagnancy within the firm.

    Employees: Ask for what you need. Think you deserve a promotion or a raise after bagging in a big client? Go get it. Think your ideas are not heard? Ask on the floor how you are able to make them more digestible for all! Effectively communicate with employers on long-term goals; an appreciative employer would try his/her best to introduce growth opportunities for the employee’s career. If your work is not appreciated, perhaps it’s time to look somewhere else and not feel guilty for it.

  6. Others (15%)

Stay tuned to Part 3: Anger & Bargaining in the next part of our series!