Several UK higher education institutions are currently going through some sort of restructuring, either to improve their efficiency and services to the outside world, or to cope with the cuts in funding due to the recent recession, or both. These times can be very stressful, as restructurings tend to affect some or many employees. It is worth remembering though that not everything is doom and gloom. Here are some suggestions:
1) Investigate the alternatives in your own institution: when a restructuring happens, redundancies tend to be made. At the same time though, new positions tend to open up. Existing employees in danger of redundancy are normally given priority for these new positions, so make sure that you know all about them and that you make your interest clear to your superiors. Sometimes certain new positions are “ring-fenced” for certain employees, so be sure to take advantage of such an opportunity.
2) Work with HR: HR are not anyone’s enemies. And contrary to the common belief, it’s not HR who makes decisions on recruitment and/or firing in higher education. In periods of restructuring, HR usually offer consultative sessions with those employees whose jobs may be lost in order to advise them on what to do next. These sessions are a good opportunity to discuss your skills, experience and professional goals and are also used to alert employees on upcoming opportunities that match their profile.
3) Investigate outside of your institution: Although there is a good chance that most employees will be offered new positions within their institution after the restructuring takes place, you may find that you are up for a challenge in a new environment. So why not browse the job market, ask around, make your intentions known to your contacts, apply and test your strengths in other institutions? Chances are that sooner or later, you will be offered a position somewhere else.
4) Don’t forget to network: Inside and outside of your own institution, in conferences and professional events, in meetings, networking is key to success and can open up doors you never imagined it could.
5) Find out if there’s a voluntary redundancy package: If you have decided that you still want to leave your institution because the alternatives on offer don’t suit you, see if there is a redundancy package which you can benefit from. Some institutions offer incentive schemes for employees who decide to take voluntary redundancy or go to early retirement. The financial incentives can be surprisingly good – often enough for a person to survive a whole year without working. This will take you off the stress of having to find a new job immediately and will give you the time to look better and find something that closely matches your aspirations.