I, like many other people, have a fear of losing my job. For us anxious employees, whether this is a rational fear or not depends on lots of factors, including our employment history. Redundancy plagues the independent school sector more than state school, and is used to downsize departments depending on pupil intake to the subject. As a non-core subject teacher, I have felt the impact of redundancies in my department and across the schools I have worked in. The thought of being made redundant or losing my job strikes fear into my heart. I have a mortgage, a family, and a 15-year plan to FIRE.
I have been job hunting recently, looking for the next step in my career. After applying for several roles (school tours, informal chats with headteachers, and long tedious application forms) I have now passed the deadline for leaving this academic year. So that’s it, too late, try again for January. The feedback each time was the same, ‘you have a strong application, but we found x number of candidates who were better qualified.’ Will a new role (more responsibility, higher salary) reduce my fear of losing my job? No, probably not. But I don’t know if I want to do 15 more September INSET days in the position I am in now.
So, if like me, you are anxious about job loss, how do we fix our fear? Well after a solid few hours of Googling this is what I have to offer you.
1. Acknowledge and accept your fear.
2020 was a mess. Jobs were lost, jobs were at risk, and it is absolutely okay to feel scared. Don’t bury your feelings, acknowledge them. Find a trusted friend, colleague or partner, and talk to them. It is reassuring to realise that we are not alone in this fear. In talking about this anxiety at work, I found that many of my colleagues feel exactly the same way. Finances are uncertain for many businesses right now, but it won’t always be this way.
2. Can you offer more to your role (without increasing your workload?)
Do you have a particular set of responsibilities in your role? Can you swap out some of your easier duties for those that might be in your specialism? What are you particularly good at? Are you being utilised in your role? Teaching is about a third of my workload. The remainder of my day is spent on administrative tasks, most of which I do every year and can do in my sleep. Ever summer term we receive an email detailing what will be added to our role from September. I’ve always just accepted these but this year I asked to meet the senior management to discuss what I could offer, in exchange for some of the new tasks that can be delegated to those in my department.
3. Tick something off your to-do list every day.
Whether it is a physical or mental list, there is always a couple of tasks we put off. It takes too long, it’s boring, we all have excuses for these jobs. Try to tick one off each day. Not only will you feel more productive, but you will be actively ensuring your jobs is as complete as it can be. For me, this is appraisal target reviews. I dread this term as I have 15 meetings with already overworked colleagues (especially this year) who want nothing more than to go home early and instead have to sit through a 30-minute review of targets they didn’t get to pick themselves. However, if I try and make this a positive experience for them and me, and talk through the things they are proud of this year (like actually just getting through this year) then maybe it won’t be so bad after all.
4. Take time for yourself.
We’re all guilty of not taking time for ourselves, family, friends, and work all have their own priorities, and we tend to take a back seat. Carve out at least 15 minutes for yourself each day. Read a book, watch Netflix, journal, whatever, just focus on you. For me, I need to take my lunch break. Almost every day I work through my break. So, I’m going to go for a walk and take some time for me.
For now, I’ll keep working on my fear. If you know any other ways to reduce this fear, let me know in the comments below.
This post was written for the May Sovereign Quest challenge, more posts like this can be found here.