This article continues from previous post (refer here) where I discussed how to stay financially and mentally resilient during a crisis resulting in a retrenchment. The discussion apparently did not include the type of resilience such as acquisition of work skill-sets which can easily be transited from one company/ industry to another.
Why retrenchment can happen to any employed person?
Some people say “Oh retrenchment will not happen to me, because I have a stable job…Oh I am young, can find another job easily…Oh, I am highly valuable to my company...Oh my boss like me…Oh I am in civil service!” It can be true NOW, but certainly not throughout your entire working life.
Is it a big deal that we are young now? No! I am still young also, but everyone grows old one day with more burdens on our shoulders from family expenses. Even when you are frugal, but living in the inflationary Lion city is going to be tough.
If you think you are really valuable to your company, sometimes the ugly truth is because you are still “cheap” in salary. Your salary may go up one day and you can become an eye sore during a crisis too. Okay…you win! You prefer to be lowly paid! Counter-intuitively, lowly paid does not always mean you are on the safe side. Due to change of corporate structure, you can be made redundant by the highly-paid bosses too. The most junior staffs in my office were the first to be let go during this crisis.
Your boss likes you now, but your boss can change before you realise. For some reason, your new boss may loathe you. Even when your boss is owner of the company, he can sell the business to a new owner. This happened to me a few times.
Perhaps the only exception is probably when you are working in a civil service and has an “iron rice bowl”, so as to speak. Yet, how many in the civil service really enjoy their job? Honestly, civil service tends to provide more opportunity to “scholars” and for “farmers” the path of climbing is really long and gradual, which also mean lesser exposures and lower salary comparatively.
With all aforesaid, it is of grave importance to be financially and mentally prepared for a downturn, even if chances are slim for you to be “slashed”. Those who follow my blog will know that I had long prepared for this impending crisis, not just limited to my industry of O&G, but also extends to the general economy as a whole.
I already considered myself to be lucky up to now that I am still surviving with a comfortable income with manageable stress in my job. Many in similar category as me either already left or is so stressful and unhappy about work now. Maybe it boils down to this…Read: Oil & Gas Crisis – Time to Take On More Work Even with No Pay Raise!
Anyway, if the unfortunate do take place on me, what would I really do next?
Have a peaceful mind! Do not rush into the next job desperately
No matter how well prepared we are, when an ill-fated dismissal actually falls upon us, emotion is bound to be stirred and feeling sad is inevitable. In situation like this, our mind is definitely not in the clearest state to make good decision. Hence, the need to have a peaceful mind before making the next decision is extremely important.
I am suggesting to myself NEVER to rush into the next available full-time employed job desperately. In any case, since the Oil and Gas industry is so bad now, rushing from one job to another can also mean jumping from one shit to another!
The worst thing you want is to get into a new job and then get retrench within few months again. I already saw many friends entering into this kind of shitty situation now, and they are really unhappy!
Take a well-deserved break
Ideally, go sabbatical for 6 months or more including the few months’ notice period and balance annual leave. Do NOT even search for ads on job during the first 3-4 months at least. I will try to enjoy this period on things that I could possibly miss out in my life due to work.
Spend time with my kids
Priority number one for me - more time with my kids. You simply cannot turn back the clock when they grow up later. That said, I will not be just a stay-home dad doing household chores and become a nanny to my kids! By the way, I hate doing these chores. I prefer to be a Father, a Friend and a Mentor! While I am already my children’s part-time tuition teacher outside textbooks, I endeavour to do more with a more structured way of teaching for them. Of course, I will exercise and play with them, such as swimming, jogging and do art and craft with them. Whatever it is, the thing that matters most is to spend more time with them during this period.
Paintings by my 5-year-old and me!
Through referral, I actually started writing freelance for the O&G sector last year. I had since stopped due to my busy schedule lately. If the “brutal axe slashes”, I will like to continue.
A friend of mine is the founder of his tech start-up business with vested interest from VC. This friend is an IT guru, but never really a sales and marketing guy. Last year he approached me if I am willing to help him strengthened this area. I declined due to my work commitment. Perhaps if I am made redundant, I will look into this option.
Another friend of mine is leading his family business in the sector which I am extremely familiar with. Many times, he had hinted to me how desperately he needed a trusted person to assist him since he is unable to cope. So this is another viable option.
For options B,C &D, I will only consider if it is freelance and definitely not within the first 3-4 months as I wanted to have a well-deserved break. Furthermore, I will not ask for high salary or probably even only ask for some transport allowances or commission based job. First, I do not want the unnecessary stress to achieve unrealistic good performance in a highly challenging environment now. Second, I want conflict with “friends” to be mitigated to bare minimum. Ideally, it should be treated as helping friends out, rather than them giving me a helping hand.
Helping in my sister’s business. This is least likely to happen unless I am really desperate. Working for siblings is never easy.
Self-improvement - read more books and attend more courses
Time is something I lack to read as many books as I wanted lately. My usual book reading onboard airplane is cut down by lesser traveling due to the diminished projects and cost cutting measures.
To do well in life, I strongly believe we will need a WISE mentor to guide us along the way. If fate does not bring you one, do not fret over it. This is because reading simply can be the best way to substitute your real life mentor. After all, a good book can enrich us with almost a lifetime worth of invaluable experiences from the author.
When it comes to reading, do not mistaken reading of newspapers, articles, magazines etc as similar to reading a book. The former provides more information rather than the much needed wisdom from a book. Anyway, people nowadays have definitely no lack of information compared to wisdom! Words are essentially one of the main building blocks of life. Our future depends on the words we believe about ourself now, whether read, listen, written or spoken. So if time is granted, I will definitely read more books for self-improvement.
To add variety to learning, attending courses can be great as it allows “live” interaction with people that a book cannot provide. Just have to take note of the charges!
Compile my own “Gift” for my children
Inspired by legendary investor Jim Roger’s book : “A Gift to My Children - A Father’s Lessons for Life and Investing”, I will want to publish my own book for my children one day. This is also one of the reasons why I started this blog. So perhaps retrenchment will come in handy for me to start compiling my past articles. Read:
Keeping myself abreast of investment is something I will definitely do with or without a crisis. Yet, we should bear in mind that staying too fixated on the stock market and making lots of investments during your sabbatical is also not as wise. So take it easy and be patient and discipline in our investment activities even if we have all the time at home from not needing to go to work. The last thing we want is to deplete our still healthy cash position fast and feel pressured to go back to work soon!
Finally six packs! A challenging one indeed. This is something that I had never have in my entire life despite that I had always been a sporty person.
No job got six packs, also not too bad an idea! Haha!
Rolf's final thoughts
The morale in the O&G industry is very low now. It is not just in Singapore, but worldwide within this sector. Most people are very free now (me included) with so few projects to speak of. The sentiment is definitely NOT: “free and happy” but “free and worry” instead!
I am not saying that I am outright certain to be retrenched soon. In fact, I was given added responsibility lately as compared to my fellow colleagues. Besides, I am quite confident that my skillset, experiences and career track records should be able to help me leapfrog to other industry much easier than others, for as long as I manage my own expectation about the income part. In any case, “prudent man prepares”.
No need to say “heng” you are not in this sector! The truth is the economy in general for Singapore is going to really tough ahead. Many people in other sectors are going to be affected, if not already affected! Sometimes, it can be either the “nasty wind” has yet to blow in your direction or you are still ignorant about it. Perhaps because you are not in frontline, and still working on existing projects so you may not know what is really happening in the market! Even if you are dealing with figures, there will be a lag between company financial performances relative to general market conditions.
Why do you think PAP brought forward the 2015 general election?
The above plan is a short term one. If the downturn is going to be a structural one that last more than 2 years, instead of a cyclical one, then perhaps some rethinking is needed later for me. Uber….nah! Teaching…..maybe?