Jobsite Voluntary Redundancy
May 2009 - Article by Emma Mercer

When career coach Ros Toynbee was asked to take voluntary redundancy from a job she adored, she stood up to her company and stayed put. It was the best thing for her to do at the time, but would it be the right move for you too?

The first thing to remember is that you're under no obligation to take voluntary redundancy. My view is that if you love your job and have worked there for less than five years, then you should stay. This is for personal career development reasons as well as financial ones.

Finding a job that you love, where you believe in the company and in what it stands for is a precious thing and something you shouldn't give up lightly. If there's room to grow in the role you're in and to develop new skills, then again, you need to protect that. From a financial point of view, if you've worked somewhere for less than five years, chances are that your redundancy package might not be that competitive, in which case accepting voluntary redundancy, especially if you love your job, would be a daft thing to do.

On the other hand, if you've worked somewhere for such a long time that you're offered a life-changing amount of money for redundancy - say, to study an MBA or to put down as a deposit for a house - then I'd say accept the package. Equally, some people may have reached a career crossroads and see this as an opportunity to reconsider their career, in which case, receiving a sum of money makes it easier to take action.

If you decide to take the voluntary redundancy, you need to act with caution. While it may seem a large amount initially, your money can run out very quickly if you don't budget properly. If you take the redundancy package with a view to working freelance, or for a competitor, check your contract carefully so you don't fall foul of certain contractual obligations.

However, there are also implications to consider if you do decide to stay at the company. If your organisation is downsizing, it may mean that you'll be expected to take on more work because there are fewer resources. Often, the people who stay can feel burnt out and stressed because of the extra workload, yet are so grateful to have kept their job that they won't complain about their worsening terms and conditions.

Think about whether you'll miss the team of people you work with. Some of these people will have become firm friends and you could go through a grieving period if they're suddenly no longer around.

I was once in a similar situation where I absolutely adored my job and was then asked to take voluntary redundancy. I said I wanted to stay, and even though things at work were a bit harder than before, I continued to love it. At the end of the day, only you know how much you value the career you're currently in.

Ros Toynbee is a career coach and director of The Career Coach. Contact her via her website