Stigma associated with retrenchment slowly dissipating
Even though it still hurts, people are more candid about being laid off as it becomes more commonplace
Being retrenched still stings, but the stigma once associated with it is slowly dissipating, as layoffs become increasingly commonplace amid the worsening global economy due to the pandemic.
More people who have been laid off are taking to social media platforms to find work, with a growing number candidly stating in their curriculum vitaes (CVs) or posts that they have been retrenched due to the fallout from Covid-19.
The shift in mindset stems from the ubiquitous impact of Covid-19 that has affected almost every sector of the economy, said experts, adding that there is no longer a negative perception of a person being laid off, especially if it is because of the ongoing pandemic.
Singapore Human Resources Institute president Low Peck Kem said: "The pandemic has changed the notion of retrenchment, as it is the easy scapegoat to blame... It is never the worker's fault, it is not even the company's fault, it is Covid-19's fault."
Preliminary labour market data for the second quarter of this year showed that unemployment and retrenchments here have risen.
The data released on July 29 showed retrenchments more than doubled in the second quarter, with 6,700 workers laid off, up from 3,220 in the first quarter.
This was higher than the peak of 5,510 during the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak, but below the high of 12,760 of the 2009 global financial crisis.
In June, the number of unemployed local residents also climbed to 90,500, up from 76,200 in March.
Mr Andy Yap, 40, used to design graphics for an events company, but after being laid off in February, he now spends six days a week zipping around Yishun delivering food on his mountain bike.
As one of the casualties in the company's retrenchment exercise, the former digital design director now earns up to $2,000 "in a good month", which is about a quarter of the salary he used to draw.
Talent acquisition director at Quantum Leap Career Consultancy Alvin Ang said that given the fewer opportunities in the job market, the "survival instinct" to find a new job kicks in, and candidates focus less on the stigma and instead concentrate on getting a job.
Ways to help retrenched employees have also emerged online through social media platforms and talent directories.
Last month, for example, LinkedIn introduced a feature where users can attach a green banner to their profile picture with the words #Opentowork that will let recruiters and those in one's network know the person is open to job opportunities.
Still, said Ms Low, the sting of retrenchment is always an awful and unsettling feeling.
"While perceptions may change and retrenchments during the Covid-19 pandemic are less of a stigma, to the retrenched worker, every rejection is a disappointment."