This section looks at some of the key factors that influence engagement with redundancy support and positive outcomes for those going through redundancy.
Influences on engagement
Through the dialogue with both customer groups we have identified several factors which influence whether an individual accesses support, and the level of support an individual decides they need. The research shows that the key influencing factors when it comes to accessing support are:
- Employer attitude and support;
- Awareness about what support is available;
- Confidence and resilience;
- Availability and capacity of services; and
- Geographical access.
The employer attitude in engaging with or responding to local PACE teams is important in getting support in quickly, agreeing what is needed, and enabling employees to access it. As outlined previously, most employers are more than happy to engage with PACE and are willing to let their workers attend sessions. As described below:
"PACE actually approached my work. They had heard about it so they approached the management and asked if they could come in and the management was more than happy to give us time off work to speak to PACE which was good." PACE customer, aged 25-34
However, we have come across several instances where employers have either not engaged, or not fully cooperated in allowing employees to take time off to attend PACE sessions. This can delay or hamper service delivery and can, in some circumstances, mean those who need support are not getting it.
Participants not using any kind of support service cited that they did not know what was available to them. Partly because their employer did not offer them any support and partly because they didn't think to look for anything. Through conversations with non-PACE customers, it became clear that there is a lack of awareness about PACE, as highlighted by one individual who asked "Is it new? I've never heard of it."
Most people will not know about PACE services before they are faced with redundancy, and it is a challenge for partners to make sure that they make people aware when they need to. Interviewees have highlighted that people tend not to pay attention to marketing unless they are actively looking for help. The majority of non-PACE customers highlighted that had they known about PACE it is likely they would have accessed the services; to varying extents.
"Looking back on it, it would have been useful to have more information from my employer upfront at an earlier date. It would have been good to know what my options were and what support was out there. I might have looked into it had I known about it."Non-PACE customer, aged 25-34
There was also a sense among interviewees, that they were not aware they could access PACE services at any time, and this didn't need to be through their employer. For example, one customer was offered PACE by her employer but it came too late for her to access it. She wasn't aware that she could self-refer to PACE following the redundancy.
Confidence and resilience
Confidence was a key theme running through the interviews across all customer groups. The most commonly identified factor for not accessing support among the people we spoke to was that they were confident in their own skills and abilities and so they didn't see support as necessary. This was the main issue that differentiated them from those who did access services. As described by one individual who didn't access support:
"I started looking for work straight away, I was confident in my skills so applied for a few jobs and got to the interview stage." Non-PACE customer, aged 35-44
This applied more to younger people (under 45) across both customer groups, and particularly to those in higher level occupations and with greater skill levels. Participants either felt that they needed no help whatsoever, or that they needed limited support and so did not access what was fully available to them. For example, one PACE customer identified that he had already begun to look for jobs and so didn't need a lot of support from PACE. He had "already accepted it and started to move on in a sense."
However, there were several people who had initially felt confident in their ability to access a job, but who later recognised that they would have benefited from help. This issue has also been highlighted by Advisers, who talk about giving customers a 'reality check' as to their prospects and abilities. This is particularly the case for those who have not had to look for work for some time, as experienced by one of our interviewees:
"I just thought I'll go out and get a new job. I applied for more than 200 jobs and got nowhere. I thought to myself I'm just going to have to deal with this on my own." Non-PACE customer, aged 55-64
This reinforces the need to have an 'open door' approach rather than time-limited support.
Timing and availability of services
The research highlighted several instances where individuals needed support and were unable to access it. For example, one participant spoke of being unable to access PACE support because the redundancy date was moved forward, and PACE were brought in two days after she had left her job. While the PACE support was made available to her, she declined it because she did not want to come back into her workplace after her last day.
In another instance, where a large-scale redundancy was brought forward, the local PACE Partners struggled to provide the scale of support that the workforce needed. One PACE customer described challenges he faced accessing one-to-one support:
"There was no one-to-one support for CVs at this point but we were told this would come later on. Then our employer moved the redundancies forward … nearly 200 people all going within the month. We were told PACE wouldn't be able to support everyone in that short a timescale. They were only able to do more CV support and a basic workshop on LinkedIn. I've not had any of the one-to-one support I signed up for." PACE customer, aged 25-34
These examples align with data from the PACE Client Experience survey which suggests that timing of support is an issue for some people. It also highlights issues around the lack of awareness that individuals can access PACE services outside of what is offered through their employer.
One interviewee spoke of an occasion where she tried to access mentoring support that was offered by her employer but because of her location it was unavailable to her. This is a particular issue in more rural parts of Scotland, where location of support is critical because of the time and cost of travelling to access services further afield. Another example was cited by a PACE Adviser who had identified specific needs in rural Perthshire where those being made redundant were unable to travel to Perth to access training. The Adviser had arranged for support to be provided at their location, but this was not the training that they would ideally have liked.
What influences positive outcomes?
The ability of those facing redundancy to navigate through the process and get back into work or self-employment depends on several inter-related factors. These include personal factors and characteristics such as:
- Confidence levels
- Emotional wellbeing
- Relevance and transferability of skills
- Financial security
Figure 3 personal and practical influencers of positive progress
But outcomes are also influenced by the quality and range of support networks and services that are there to help people cope with redundancy, including:
- Employer support
- Quality of the support provided
- Services that are delivered in a personalised way
- Access to wider support networks
These practical elements of support can serve to strengthen and build the personal elements to enable customers to navigate through the redundancy process.
Support boosts confidence
Confidence is a key factor that helps people to engage and progress with PACE services. But customers also report that getting support through PACE increases their self-confidence. For example, one PACE customer identified that she had been out of the job market for some time, and the CV support she received from PACE:
"Helped build up my confidence, not just with my CV but about knowing where to look for support and other resources."PACE customer, aged 35-44
Another individual spoke of how distressed she was at the news of her redundancy but that engaging with PACE had helped change her outlook:
"I remember feeling really positive after speaking to PACE, it made me realise it's not the end." PACE Customer, aged 25-34
Emotional wellbeing is critical to making progress
Linked to confidence is the level of emotional wellbeing experienced by individuals. Customer mental wellbeing is a key influencer along the journey and can make the difference between a positive and negative outcome, as well as how quickly someone progresses into new employment. Redundancy can damage wellbeing and exacerbate issues of stress, anxiety and poor mental health. One individual highlighted that her poor mental health resulting from the redundancy had prevented her from engaging effectively with any support, as she was too overwhelmed to know what she wanted or needed.
Having the necessary support or signposting in place to promote good emotional wellbeing is viewed as a core necessity for redundancy services.
Relevance of skills to the labour market
How relevant the skills and experience of an individual are in the current labour market is another factor that influences both their journey and their outcome. This appears to be more of an issue among older workers aged 45 and over, who appear to struggle more during redundancy. Older employees are less likely to have recent experience of the jobs market and may lack some of the core skills that employers will look for such as ICT skills. One SDS PACE Adviser described seeing people 'visibly crumbling' when she spoke about the digital skills needed for job search. Many workers have limited digital skills beyond using a smartphone and find some of the information overwhelming. There was also a perception from several older interviewees that they were being treated differently in the labour market because of their age:
"I was mindful of my age as well, because although officially ageism doesn't exist, let me tell you it's real." Non-PACE customer, aged 55-64
And even among senior employees who have skills and qualifications, their expectations of salary and seniority might limit their opportunities for getting a new job quickly:
"Ageism is a barrier whether people want to admit it or not it does exist. People do discriminate. I've been to interviews for lower level jobs but not getting anywhere because I'm too experienced. There needs to be better support for people in senior roles." Non-PACE customer, aged 45-54
However, one PACE customer highlighted how her Adviser had helped her to think about how to promote herself, despite a lack of formal qualifications.
"The job I was doing was one that had grown through my experience rather than with formal qualifications so it was daunting to believe that I had the capability to do the job, although I'd been doing it all those years." PACE customer, aged 45- 54
Having a financial buffer, or not having immediate financial concerns around redundancy, can provide a bit of breathing space for individuals facing redundancy. Not having to be forced into making snap decisions, or pursuing the first opportunity they come across, reduced the stress felt by individuals and gives them time to take stock. They are more likely to be in a position to identify the type of support, guidance and training that will be best for them.
Access to wider support
In addition to the services provided through employers, PACE and private providers, the ability to access wider support networks is also important in helping individuals to progress towards a positive outcome. While having friends or family to talk to about the situation is clearly one important factor, one interviewee highlighted that peer networks of colleagues were a key source of support, encouragement and information on potential jobs and opportunities. This finding was echoed by one of the Advisers we interviewed who had identified good staff networks and relationships influencing outcomes.
"One or two find opportunities and pass them on to others."