Adland seeing more redundancies while on parental leave

By Ruby Derrick | 9 May 2024
Credit: nienkeburgers via Unsplash/

Being made redundant on parental leave is becoming far too common in the industry, says Creative Natives creative consultant and career coach Mikhaila Warburton.

What comes with redundancy in any shape or form will rock someone's confidence, she said on the recruitment agency’s ‘Redundant on Parental Leave: What’s Next?’ webinar.

“Panic, fear and a heavy disbelief in your ability. Even though they say it's not you, 'it's the role', you can't help but feel like it is you."

In Warburton's previous circumstance, she was made redundant alongside another return-to-work parent on Christmas Eve. 

You have to rediscover yourself by becoming a parent, she says.

“It's not just as easy as losing a job and going to look for another one. The emotional impact, not just the logistics, is huge.”

Warburton is hearing stories first-hand on return-to-work parents being made redundant or getting rejected of part-time hours.

She urges the industry to question why this is so common.

“It comes down to availability and hours unfortunately. This industry is renowned for not being able to provide that flexibility.”

Creative Natives founder and director Ryan Kelly says as an industry, we have to have more empathy. 

“Having to go from protector/carer to then job-seeker in a really short period of time, I can imagine would be incredibly jarring,” he says.

On the advice Warburton would give to new parents being made redundant, she says that initially, there will be a range of emotions.

"There is support out there though, you’re going to get through this. Businesses should be obligated to partake in a consultation process where there’s feedback both ways. They can't make you redundant just because you need part-time work and just because you’ve become a parent.”

Businesses can also provide references and outplacement support to help people get ready for work after a restructure or directing them to a recruiter post-redundancy.

One of the observations that Kelly is observing is the number of people being notified the week or day they’re prepared to return back.

“You’ve made all these life-changing steps, and then to be dropped at the last minute?”

It's a result of poor planning, Warburton says.

“You can't tell me that the day before, on Christmas Eve in my instance, was the only time to sit down and tell me?” she says.

The mindset needed to bounce back can be a real challenge that can have a significant impact on confidence, Warburton says.

“You've got to drop the resentment, move on, rebrand yourself and work out what's best for your family.”

Post news of a redundancy, Warburton said those affected should start by getting really clear on what they want, what their family needs and what that looks like.

“The number one reason why people move jobs is a result of a misalignment of values. The next step is getting visible. Build a personal brand and get out in market. Talk about the value you can provide."

On applying for jobs listed as full-time when looking for part-time, Warburton says go for it.

“Sometimes employers don't know what they want until they are presented with it. Own it, like a negotiation process and then gauge their response.

Warburton would say to a company "let's be open", if they're only looking to recruit staff on five days a week.

"You’re missing out on some really great talent. You should be looking for the right person for the role, someone with great time management.”

Kelly says many who are becoming parents in adland are leaving the industry - sometimes forever.

“Because the system does not accommodate," he says.

Freelance is an option, Warbuton says, although it's not that simple, and takes time putting yourself out there in market.

“Trying to secure freelance work is having your own mini business. You have to hustle and open up doors. You have to network and make those relationships."

Kelly says the industry has got to move with the times. 

“We need to have that tweak of mindset and a more empathetic approach. Businesses need to be mindful of setting unrealistic hours in a reduced timeline,” he says.

A lot of this issue comes back to flexibility and employers failing to look into into part-time or job-sharing arrangements, says Warburton.

"We as an industry need to start speaking up about topics like this."

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