The offer of voluntary redundancy can leave individuals with a big decision to make. How do you go about deciding if this is the right offer for you? We asked Chiumento MD, Mike Burgneay, for his views on what can be a big balancing act.

Where do you begin?

My advice is to start by rolling the clock back to the world before the word redundancy was ever mentioned. Your base line has to be how happy you were in your job, and how engaged you were with the organisation, before this all started.

So what does happiness at work look like? You could start by asking yourself questions including:

  • How interesting and challenging was my job? Was I really enjoying it?
  • Did I believe in the company culture and values? Did I feel “at home”?
  • Where was my career headed? Could I see a way ahead in the organisation or was I at a dead end?
  • What did my relationship with my boss look like? Did we work well together?
  • How did I feel about my colleagues? Would I have missed them if they left?
  • Would I have considered leaving if the right offer came along? Was I even thinking of leaving already?

What you’ll come to, if you answer honestly, is an evaluation of the state of your relationship with the organisation. It maybe that you love the place and can’t imagine working anywhere else. At the other end of the spectrum you might already have been itching to get out. Where you were between those two extremes will be a good initial barometer of whether applying for voluntary redundancy is the right step.

Risk and reward can hinder your perspective

Faced with the potential of redundancy “survivor syndrome” can sometimes set in. Irrespective of how you felt before the announcements, suddenly the urge just to protect what you have kicks in. It can blind you to the option of exiting on your terms and with a good deal. As a result people end up staying in jobs they didn’t like anyway. And potentially end up leaving a few months later.

A redundancy payment can sometimes be life changing. It’s the money to fund that business you always wanted to start. It might be the deposit for that first property. Or it could solve your immediate debt issues. Equally the lure of the cash can blind you to the long term implications of taking voluntary redundancy. We’ve worked with people who have come to regret the decision – not least when they realise the cash won’t last as long as they thought.

Take time to do the numbers

Once you have an indicative figure for your redundancy payment you need to assess how far that money will actually go. How long before it runs out and you end up in difficulty? You need to work out a monthly budget including everything from food and power to mortgage payments, loan repayments and the little things that make life worth living. Then divide that into the total you’ve been offered. How many months will it last?

How long will it take you to get another job?

This can be a tough one. It depends on a huge number of factors from your skill set (and how in demand that is) to where you live or what type of working pattern you need. That also includes asking yourself if you can you replicate your past pay somewhere else? If your current employer is the best payer in your area or profession you may have to factor in potentially earning less in future. At least initially.

If you are lucky, your employer may give you what Chiumento describes as “pre-decision support”. That’s access to an experienced career coach who can help you work through all this. Asking you the right questions and helping you understand your value in the outside jobs market. If you’ve not looked for a job in a long time you may have little idea how in demand your skills really are. Or what salary you might command. The answer might be a very pleasant surprise – or an unwelcome shock. Either way you can make informed decisions.

Ultimately what you need, to be convinced of is that you’ll get another job, that pays all those bills, before your redundancy pay runs out.

If you do decide to go…

Make sure you ask for outplacement support as part of your exit package. If you’ve not come across outplacement before this short article explains the basics.

Research shows that individuals receiving outplacement typically land in a new job much sooner than those who have to face jobsearch alone. It might be attractive to take a cash alternative to outplacement but if that means you eventually lose out on weeks of salary it might not be such a good trade off.

Ultimately the decision to stay or go has to be one you can live with. Just make sure you have the maximum information and let the head rule the heart.