Surviving Retrenchment

Written by Your Future Now

Retrenchment is much like the television show, Survivor. Except, you are not on a remote island, the strongest contestant doesn’t always win in the end and there are no immunity idols up for grabs in this version – welcome to the real world. Retrenchment is a word that is incorrectly synonymous with older employees – this can’t be any further from the truth. When companies make the decision to retrench, they usually follow a method know as last in first out. This means that the heads of employees that joined the company most recently will be the first to roll. Whether you are younger or older, male or female, you can be asked to walk the plank at any time.

Retrenchment can strike when you least expect it and the first thing you’ll have to do is acknowledge it. There is no point in living in denial until the day you walk out of the office doors for the last time. Know that you probably have a few rough months ahead of you but keep your chin up and your eye on the prize. After acknowledging your retrenchment, the next step is to adjust financially. If you are an avid follower of Your Future Now, you should know by now how important it is to have an emergency fund in place, right? Your emergency fund should be able to cover your living expenses for up to three months should the dreaded R-word strike.

If you don’t have an emergency fund in place, consider setting up short-term financial goals as well as long-term financial goals. As a Survivor contestant your short-term goals are securing food and shelter and your long-term goal is winning the game. You will need to adjust your finances, as well as your spending habits if you want to survive retrenchment and get out alive on the other side.

Avoid making impulsive decisions like selling your car or cashing out your provident fund. Just because you no longer have a job to drive to on a daily basis it doesn’t mean you no longer need a method of transport. Your provident fund is your key to a comfortable retirement and should be preserved as far as possible. Maxing out your credit card is another impulsive decision that should be avoided. Even though using a credit card seems like a great idea to fix a few holes in the sinking ship, this will only delay your financial problems and make it harder to recover once you are back on your feet. Drastic steps like these should be a last resort, if even.

Cutting costs can be hard but your unemployment will most probably be a temporary hurdle in your life. If you have any standing contracts or financial agreements, you have to communicate your retrenchment to your service providers. Contact the service providers to find out if the services that you pay for can be temporarily paused. Some financial products like retirement annuities might even qualify for a holiday. This means the service in question is placed on hold for a certain period.

If you were contributing to an unemployment insurance fund (UIF) during your employment period, you will be eligible to claim. You can claim starting from the last day of employment until your UIF benefits are depleted or as soon as you start working again. It is important to remember that you must claim your UIF within six months after you’ve been retrenched. Your previous employer is obligated to assist you with the required documents like a certificate of service and a UI-19 document. The UI-19 document is basically a copy of your employment history.

If you want to win Survivor, you need to rely on your tribe. In the real life, this is where your network of friends come in. As hard as it might be to swallow your pride and ask for help, this is exactly what you must do. I am not suggesting that you borrow money from friends. In fact, this should be avoided as far as possible. Instead, inform family and friends of your predicament and ask them to keep their eyes and ears open for possible new job positions. Before you turn to family and friends however, be sure that you have an updated CV at the ready. Update your CV and include information about the job you were retrenched from. When asked about your retrenchment in a job interview it is good to remember that honesty is the best policy. Retrenchment isn’t necessarily frowned upon and is nothing you should be ashamed of. Bite your tongue however and avoid making excuses or blaming your previous employer for your current situation when being interviewed.

Though retrenchment can waltz into your life unannounced, it might just arrive exactly when it means to. Before you start the job hunting journey, which can sometimes feel like a journey of rejection complete with standard response emails informing you that your application was unsuccessful, you can always consider starting your own thing. Self-employment can be quite rewarding, especially during that awkward job application period. Instead of worrying where the money for your next meal will come from, be proactive and earn some extra money from the comfort of your home. Websites like, PeoplePerHour and UpWork provides a platform for creatives where they can trade their talents for some serious cash. When you have a certain skill set in Survivor, you are considered a valuable member of your tribe. Back in the real world, your talents are valuable too and can take you a long way. Whether you’ll be starting your own business or heading straight back to the working world, you can survive retrenchment and become the ultimate survivor.

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