On this very day twelve months ago, I left the office I had called “home” since 2002 for the last time. I have been lucky enough to have been in constant employment since my teens, but this was the first time I had been in a job for more than ten years.
My previous “record” (if that’s the right word) was eight years, a term that was brought to a fairly abrupt end by redundancy as my role was being relocated to Preston… and I wasn’t prepared to make the move to Lancashire. And to a certain extent history repeated itself last year, when my job (and that of a number of colleagues across the country) was disestablished in what was somewhat politely called a “restructure”, although “cull” might have been a more suitable, albeit emotive word given that people had to travel to Sheffield from places as far afield as Newcastle, Liverpool, Leeds and Lancaster to be told in a presentation that lasted barely five minutes that ninety per cent of the room would be out of work by February 2015.
It was pretty brutal, and understandably a massive shock to many people, but strangely I felt quite calm… yes I know; not like me at all. The reason was that the intention to restructure had been announced more than two years earlier, and with the relatively recent confirmation that layers of management would be wiped from the payroll, the news for our department was simply never going to be good; and in the end ongoing employment effectively boiled down to a geographical lottery.
I had already sat with Elaine and discussed what I would (hopefully) do if the axe was to descend; and that meeting in Sheffield simply forced me to put plans into action.
We were given something like a year’s notice… presumably in the hope that staff would jump ship and save big redundancy pay outs—but this was very much what I was aiming for. Jobs were (and are) not easy to come by, and if an opportunity was to present itself, I was definitely going to try and take it… after all, I’d never had any money before, so getting a new position at the same grade wouldn’t change our way of life… and I knew how the level of worry would increase as any lump sum dwindled with every month that passed without finding work.
Over the next eight months, I only applied for four positions… and in the September, after what was only my second interview, Hambleton Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group offered me a job—a matter of hours after I’d visited their Northallerton office… whilst I was pedalling away on my exercise bike in actual fact.
It’s hard to describe the feeling when someone rings you to say they want you to join their organisation… their team. I was excited and nervous at the same time. As far as accepting the offer was concerned, there was no decision to make… the job sounded great on paper, and the people who interviewed me couldn’t have been nicer.
There was a bit of a wait whilst various bits of red tape were untangled, but it felt fantastic when I was able to hand in my notice. And when that day came to leave, there wasn’t a single backward glance.
I rarely write about work, and notwithstanding my view of the way the restructure was handled (which I would claim as “fair comment”), I have no intention of saying anything negative about the time with my previous employer (an organisation I purposely haven’t mentioned by name). I met and worked with some good people, and most importantly if I hadn’t been taken on, I would never have met Elaine… and for that I will always be grateful.
But in the end, I was no longer wanted… and there was nothing I could do about it. I completely understood the need for “efficiencies”, but I wasn’t willing to just sit back and accept my fate… even if it came with a fat cheque.
But did I make the right choice?
Undeniably yes. The work is varied, challenging and rewarding. Starting again without the level of knowledge I had gained in my former role was (and to an extent still is) quite daunting, but I have a fantastic and supportive manager, great colleagues... and my petrol bill has halved! The past year has absolutely flown by (although my actual anniversary is not until 3rd November), and although I am happy to spend a moment to give a gentle nod to the past, I am now able to enjoy the present... and look forward to the future—and that is a lovely feeling.