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Preparing For Retrenchment

Timothy Juma, MBA, MACP, Ph.D. Candidate

Clinical Psychologist

There is a high likelihood that somebody you are familiar with or even yourself has faced a redundancy. No matter how safe and stable your job might appear, getting a notice of dismissal from employment or the so-called pink slip can occur to anybody. Some things in life, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, are beyond our control. Retrenchment has become a part of our life, so we should be ready to cope with this and overcome it. It would be unpragmatic to take for granted that your job is secure, and you don't have to prepare for being unemployed.

The “womb to tomb” jobs of our parents do not exist anymore. The days of high job security are mostly over. Financial pressures on businesses, and partly to a change in attitudes has led to this. Loyalty is out. Instead, most emphasis is on survival, continuous and never-ending improvement, and the ruthless quest of profits. Lately, companies feel the pinch in a stagnant economy, and COVID 19 has made it worse. One consequence is that worldwide, firms are quicker than ever to retrench vast numbers of workers. Despite having this knowledge, being retrenched is still painful. Hence, it is important to prepare for a soft landing should this happen.

According to the East African Standard, more than one million Kenyans lost their employment or were sent on indefinite unpaid leave as the Covid-19 pandemic became a big issue. A compilation of public data from some companies suggests that the numbers could be higher, especially when casual laborers are taken into account. The worst-hit companies are in the tourism, transport, horticulture, communication, and education sectors (Wafula, 2020).

Ordinarily, the last people employed are the first to be retrenched. Still, companies may decide to retrench non-essential sectors. This may include long-serving staff members, workers from departments that have an excess staff, or based on whether you have the requisite skills the company needs to continue operating. Part of the preparation involves saving money and income protector insurance policies. One needs to continually look at ways to reinvent themselves and cultivate skills, hopefully, be relevant to a company even in hard times.

Some practical ways of dealing with retrenchment include: -

  1. Turning the challenges into opportunities. Learning new skills can give you an edge over your competitors.

  2. Keep your networks healthy. At a time like this, and it is essential to keep genuine friends close to you who will keep you motivated because retrenchment can be significant confidence knock. Keep checking with your networks about new job opportunities as you do your job searches.

  3. Job Searching. Stay positive and understand that you were not retrenched because of your capabilities but because of market demands.

  4. Rebrand Yourself. If you have the financial ability, and have knowledge gaps, sign up for a course to upskill and align yourself to the market demands of the industry you are qualified to function within.

  5. Do not rush to spend. Many people make the mistake of quickly investing their retrenchment proceeds. Unless you are investing in an already existing business, take some time to think about your life and possible investment opportunities.


Wafula, P. (2020, June 5). Over one million rendered jobless in Kenya as Covid-19 takes toll on businesses. The EastAfrican.


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