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Budget Job Cuts: How We Got So Good At Saying Goodbye

Budget Job Cuts: How We Got So Good At Saying Goodbye

If you want to know how to say goodbye, ask a public servant. They’ve had plenty of practise.

Another 16,500 hapless government workers are due to lose their jobs, thanks to this week’s budget, which aims to create a smaller government.

This is an escalation since its election commitment to cut the workforce by 12,000 through natural attrition alone.

It is a bad time to be a public servant. They are easy targets for anyone who sees them as a cost, rather than a profit centre.

It is also difficult for many of them to translate their skills into the private sector – especially when they have to confront prejudice from hiring managers who suspect that public servants can’t work within a budget and lack dynamism.

Earlier this year, the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) revealed up to 300 applicants were fighting for each public service vacancy in Canberra. That situation has just worsened because so many of the newly jobless have nowhere else to go but back to the same job market that has cast them out.

Of course, some people do want out. Four times as many Australian Tax Office staff put their hands up for redundancy than there were packages available, earlier this year, with 2187 workers applying out of a workforce of more than 20,000.

I wonder what will happen to the work all these people were doing. What are we going to have to be accustomed to doing without?

Earlier this year, a CPSU poll of 5820 staff from more than 50 different Commonwealth agencies revealed 70 per cent reported job cuts in their workplace over the past 12 months.

The impact of those cuts were that most of them (87 per cent) reported understaffing and unfilled positions, 64 per cent say there is a reduction in quality and more mistakes, and 50 per cent report increased customer waiting times.

Few business sectors are unscathed by the years of downsizing and most of us have come to accept being told that there is no longer anybody available to provide the services that we used to get.

But it is no wonder the union’s survey also finds that 46 per cent of Commonwealth public servants report increased customer frustration and aggression.

Sometimes our close friends are the people that we work with and, if you are one of the people spared during a round of job cuts, then there are a number of ways you can help your departing workmates, as I wrote five years ago – which (depressingly) illustrates how long this job losses saga has been going on.

1. Give them your time. People who may have their lost their job, and a large part of their sense of identity and purpose, will be going through a period of adjustment.

2. Keep in contact. Keep calling them and don’t take it personally if you sometimes get a less than enthusiastic response. They may be going through a roller-coaster of emotions.

3. Invite them. If you are going to a professional event, invite them along. They may meet someone who can help connect them to a job.

4. Open your contact book. Wait until the dust settles a bit first, and ask them to call you if they would like some of your contacts.

5. Entertain. Don’t ask them out to somewhere they may have to spend some of their payout, or undergo the humiliation of having someone else pay. Invite the whole family around for a barbecue.

6. Help them keep fit. Inviting your friend for a game of golf, a day at the beach, a jog or a game of squash can be a good way of maintaining contact without having to dwell on their situation.

7. Reply promptly. Twenty-four hours can flash by when you are busy, but it can be an eternity for someone who is waiting for your call.

8. Positive feedback. If you can tell them, in specifics, what it was that they brought to their job, it will bolster their self-esteem and also help clarify their strengths when it comes to preparing their resume


*Original Article by Fiona Smith: