betty July 11, 2022

SINGAPORE – In this series, manpower correspondent Calvin Yang offers practical answers to candid questions on navigating workplace challenges and getting ahead in your career.

Q: I heard a retrenchment exercise is coming. I am worried but dare not broach the topic with my boss and co-workers. Help?  

A: Do not panic and jump to conclusions. You may want to tread carefully because the rumour could be unfounded.

Speculation about something that may or may not happen could make it look like you are a “problem employee”, says Mr David Blasco, senior director at recruitment firm Randstad Singapore.

And if a retrenchment exercise does happen, you may actually run the risk of being let go.

“Instead of speculating, you should start evaluating your own work performance and skills. If you have recorded good work performance over the past few years, are equipped with in-demand skills, and demonstrate an ability to adapt to new changes, you may stand a better chance of staying with the organisation,” he adds.

Retrenchments – which spiked in Singapore in 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic struck, though the situation has since improved – are very structured exercises carried out by businesses.

If you hear of a retrenchment exercise coming soon, try speaking to your supervisor or, if you find that difficult, a human resource colleague or union representative. Verify the news first before planning your next step.

If you happen to be affected, it would help to understand your entitlements, says Ms Linda Teo, country manager at ManpowerGroup Singapore.

Consider whether you are eligible to receive any retrenchment benefits, based on your employment contract or collective agreement. If you know there will be benefits and you do not yet have a confirmed job offer, it might be better to take such benefits than to resign.

If you are not expecting the bad news and it hits you hard, do give yourself some time to calm down and process everything, says Ms Teo.

If need be, you can also ask the person who delivered the news to explain the contents of the layoff letter personally again in a private setting.

“Confide in someone whom you trust to clear your mind and process your emotions,” adds Ms Teo. Your family and friends, for instance.

It is fine to seek help and you need not go through this journey alone.