Kenya’s corporate sector continues to lay off workers citing hard economic times that threaten the survival of long-established firms. The affected employees, most of whom are breadwinners, are at crossroads with no immediate options either in the short-term or foreseeable future.
The bad news is a shock to the workers, their families, friends and communities that needs to be managed with understanding. Loss of employment, whether planned or not, is bedeviled with psychological and other implications that should not be ignored. At this rate, the unemployment rate in Kenya is bound to keep growing.
Here are some factors that separated employees should address as they chart out their future lives.
1. Personal level adjustment
Paid employment accords one a wide variety of comforts and benefits which are taken for granted until they cease to exist. The exiting employees will experience a deep sense of loss and intolerable disorientation.
They will part with the company of colleagues; daily work routines; working status; job titles and monthly salary with other benefits.
Settling down in the new situation of uncertainty of the world outside work would require intensive soul-searching moments. Some people may resort to grieving to wish away the pain of job loss. Others search for and apply personal techniques that have worked in coping with previous losses.
Another mechanism for coming to terms with loss of employment is to use encouraging affirmations such as “one door is closed, another one will be open” or “losing one’s employment is not the end of the world.”
Whichever approach one decides to use, the overall aim should be to accept the eventuality and move on to create new options for earning a living. The adjustment process and period may differ from one person to another but in the end, viable means of livelihood will emerge.
In the event that one is overwhelmed with adjustment issues, he or she should not shy away from seeking professional counseling.
2. Participation of family members
In any life crisis, family is the first stopover for social support. The existing state of family relationships will influence the extent to which one would make post-retrenchment adjustments. It is important to inform and discuss with family members forthcoming implications to allay any real or imagined fears.
Employees with school-going children are expected to provide hope on continuation of schooling even if it would require transfers to new schools. Changes in family lifestyle as a result of no future regular income should be tabled for discussion.
Family members should be encouraged to participate in the decision- making process on matters that will affect them.
3. Management of terminal benefits
Employees whose services are terminated on redundancy grounds are entitled to payments specified in the labour laws. Regardless of the lump sum received, one should undertake utmost prudence in spending it.
Any lump sum is prone to be exhausted within a short time when money for immediate and future use is easily accessible. Money not required for pressing living expenses can, in the meantime, be saved in financial instruments such as fixed deposits account.
4. Shelter considerations
Employees who are staying in rented houses may decide to shift to affordable houses as they plan for what to do next. Those living in staff quarters can relocate within the urban area or later on return to respective rural communities.
If one does not have a house in the rural area, there will need to construct one to meet family shelter needs. Shelter will obviously not be a post-employment factor if one resides in his or her own house.
5. Searching for a new job
After leaving a job there will always be a transition period before other openings become available. To re-enter the labour market, one is expected to craft a new CV and market it to potential employers. Sources of information on employment opportunities may include former colleagues, friends, relatives and various media.
6. Starting a small business
Although people who leave employment are easily attracted to starting small businesses, this option should be undertaken with caution. In full-time employment, one may not have acquired necessary business management for entry into the small enterprise sector.
Neither were they exposed to relevant business experiences required for running a small business. Anyone intending to venture into business for the first time should acquire business skills from training providers or credible mentors.
These actions can help people get something to do to earn a living and reduce the unemployment rate in Kenya.
Samson Osero is Human Resource Development Consultant and Author of ‘Transition into Retirement’. My personal email is: [email protected]