Support for Workers
We encourage you to start by listening to God’s word about work - try the reflections here.
And do seek the prayerful support of your growth group or the St. Mary’s staff team.
But maybe you still have specific questions about your own circumstances? Below you will find a range of resources, compiled by volunteer members of our church family who have professional experience in Human Resources. These resources have been used to support others with similar issues in the past. We hope you find them useful!
If you'd like to speak to the team, please contact or call the Church Office.
Finding the right job for you
There are a range of online tools to help you decide the right education route, plan a career change at any age or get the job that is right for you.
How to approach your job search
Landing the job you really want as the next step is often challenging whether you are a new graduate or someone with many year’s experience.
It’s worth bearing in mind a few principles when you are starting the search, even if some you already know and a bit obvious, worthy of reiterating. Its also really important to reflect on both the practical and psychological elements of your search. The practical ones are indeed important; a job search strategy, networking, signing up to sites and the like. However, the psychological elements of a job search are just as important; how do you keep your resilience and confidence when you have another rejection from an interview, or not even been shortlisted for the job you were really passionate about?
1. Create a job search plan
It's obvious in a way! When you are planning something new, you usually create some sort of project plan. But not many people actually sit down and plan a Job Search Plan, opting instead for a ‘shotgun’ approach that involves blasting CVs and job applications to any job title that sounds appealing, and hoping something hits the mark.
Instead, research the types of careers that fit the transferrable skills that make up your key skills as an individual. If you prefer a more shorthand, visual version of a job search plan on one page, try this: Job Search Plan Visual.
Getting a job offer is a mix of 'hard power' strengths (i.e. degrees, internships, and skills) and 'soft power' ability (i.e. networking, personal branding, and communications agility). You can’t focus on one and neglect the other.
2. Update and tailor your CV
Sending a tailored covering letter is a well-known job hunting tip, but are you also tailoring your CV?
Relevance is crucial when applying for any job. Your CV is most likely targeted towards one profession or industry, but no two jobs will be exactly the same. Whenever you apply for a role, take a few minutes to check your CV against the job advert and look for any potential improvements you can make.
For example, if you are hiding a crucial qualification at the bottom of your CV, move it to the top and make it prominent. Tailoring your CV for every application may take a little more effort, but it’s better use of time than making 10 generic applications that may not attract the attention you need.
3. Keep up your resilience
You could be in for a wait, and have to hunker down and be patient. In today’s jobs market, employers have plenty of candidates to choose from and they often receive hundreds of applications per vacancy. So the odds of applying for just one job and securing it are slim to none. Applying for several jobs at once, and getting your CV in front of as many hiring managers as possible, will maximise your chances. You still need to be selective about the roles you apply for, but scout out as many suitable opportunities as you can. Set a daily or weekly application target, track the vacancies, and make timely follow-ups.
Find ways of holding onto your resilience, whether through prayer and Bible study, seeking support from trusted friends, or regular exercise.
4. Focus on networking
If you’re spending hours cruising job boards and filling out endless online applications, think about varying things. Get out from behind the computer and go network!
It depends on what statistics you look at, but it is claimed that around 70 percent of jobs are obtained through networking; whilst this might be an exaggeration it’s fair to say don’t underestimate the power of networking.
Online job applications work best if you have a near perfect match to key words in the job listing, but this might not always be the case. As well as job applications, focus on networking and marketing activities that can help flush out hidden gems that are rarely publicly advertised. Plus, networking shows you have initiative and drive. Look up the forums for your type of work where other similar people might connect and collaborate; look at Eventbrite for free networking/ knowledge sharing events that you can join. Often an opportunity or a connection can be made in these sessions that can lead to great things!
5. Use technology wisely
Technology has certainly made our lives easier. Mobile apps are available to aid in job searches, and social media platforms are also helpful for making connections. The most obvious business networking site is Linkedin.
Still, technology is only as good as the person using it, so you’ll need to spend time keeping your social media profiles updated with current experience and connections. And set a goal to make at least five new connections every week during your job search. See more information below on how to use Linkedin.
Comprehensive job sites and networks such as Monster, LinkedIn, Glassdoor and even Craigslist can be invaluable resources for jobseekers — but the competition for listings posted on these sites can be downright overwhelming. If you’re looking for a job in a specific industry, consider researching job boards that focus on a particular niche.
6. Speculative approaches
Sometimes called the “speculative approach”, this involves proactively making contact with companies to offer your services. The success of this approach depends on the following factors:
- Targeting companies that are likely to require someone with your specific skills and expertise
- Writing a persuasive letter and CV that matches a particular need they have at that time
- Understanding the employer’s needs and being flexible enough to think on the spot about how you can help meet those challenges
- Ideally having a contact whose name you can use as an introduction into the company
How do you decide which companies to target?
- Other people may have good suggestions so use your connections
- Choose companies where you know they could genuinely do with your skills e.g. an underperforming company that needs your business development expertise
- Companies selling similar products or services or in an associated industry
- Suppliers, customers, or partners of your current or previous employers
- Those which have recruited colleagues or bosses from your organisation
- Scan the local and trade press for company news such as new contracts won, relocations, consolidations, senior management changes. These changes could mean new staff requirements.
- Organisations for whom you are genuinely interested in working
- Smaller or less well-known organisations in the relevant field who typically receive fewer approaches from job-seekers than more high-profile companies.
Some useful reading
Out-of-the-box approaches to the job search (that actually work). Article by Stephanie Walden on mashable.com
50 steps to finding a new job. Article by Graham Snowdon in the Guardian.
Top job hunting tips. Article by Philip Fanthom in the Daily Telegraph
Writing your CV
There are 2 main types of CV format widely accepted across most industries:
- The chronological CV, which lists your work experience in date order
- The functional CV, which is structured around your skills and experience and can work more effectively when you want to move into a different type of job and want to show your transferable skills and experience
Here are some examples of CV templates:
Most recruiters and hiring managers will expect to find your profile on LinkedIn, especially if you are actively looking for a new role. Its also a major source of research and job advertisements for you so you should consider spending time making sure your profile is up to date and reflects the image you want to portray in any recruitment process.
Being actively engaged in LinkedIn will also boost your searchability on the platform, and increase the chances of you appearing in recruiters who are searching for candidates suitable for their vacant roles.
The below links are helpful in writing your profile and making it attractive to prospective employers. Working out the key buzzwords for the types of roles you’d like to secure is particularly important; this means researching jobs and people who do these kinds of jobs and trying to find ways to replicate those words in your profile and experience and then making sure that is backed up in your actual CV.
Dealing with stress in the workplace
The Health & Safety Executive defines stress as 'the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them'.
Employees feel stress when they can't cope with pressures and other issues. Employers should match demands to employees' skills and knowledge. For example, employees can get stressed if they feel they don't have the skills or time to meet tight deadlines. However, if the employer helps provide planning, training and support, this can reduce pressure and bring stress levels down.
Stress affects people differently – what stresses one person may not affect another. Factors like skills and experience, age or disability may all affect whether an employee can cope.
There are 6 main areas of how work is designed that can effect stress levels and in an ideal world, these should all be managed proactively. They are:
Employers should assess the risks in these areas to manage stress in the workplace.
Signs of stress
Stress is not an illness but it can make you ill. Recognising the signs of stress will help employers to take steps to stop, lower and manage stress in their workplace. A change in the way someone acts can be a sign of stress, for example they may:
- take more time off
- arrive for work later
- be more twitchy or nervous
A change in the way someone thinks or feels can also be a sign of stress, for example:
- mood swings
- being withdrawn
- loss of motivation, commitment and confidence
- increased emotional reactions - being more tearful, sensitive or aggressive
If you are stressed you may notice changes in the way you think or feel, for example:
- feeling negative
- being indecisive
- feeling isolated
- feeling nervous
- being unable to concentrate
You may act differently, for example:
- eat more or less than usual
- smoke, drink or take drugs 'to cope'
- have difficulty sleeping
If you are feeling signs of stress at work, it is really important you talk to someone, for example your manager. If you talk to them as soon as possible, it will give them the chance to help and stop the situation getting worse.
If you believe the pressure is as a result of the actions of your line manager, find out what policies are in place to deal with this. If there aren't any, you could talk to your:
- trade union representative
- employee representative
- Human Resources department
- Employee assistance programme or counselling service (if available)
Many employees are unwilling to talk about stress at work, because of the stigma stress has. But stress should not be seen as a weakness and can happen to anyone.
It is also worth remembering that your employer has a legal duty to assess the risks to your health from stress at work and share the results of any risk assessment with you. More information on how this should be carried out are outlined on the HSE’s website.
Understanding your employment rights
Your 'employment status' is your legal status at work and its important as it directly affects the extent of your legal rights at work. It can be determined by:
- the type of employment contract you have
- the way you get paid
- who is responsible for paying your tax
- your rights and responsibilities, and those of your employer
There are 3 main types of employment status under the law: employee, worker and self-employed. The ACAS website provides very clear advice and guidance on each different status. However, you are classed as an employee if you:
- have an employment contract from your employer, formed when you accepted the job
- tend to be provided regular work by your employer
- are employed to do the work personally
- must do the work
It then follows that, as an employee, you have employment rights including:
- written terms (a 'written statement of employment particulars') outlining your job rights and responsibilities, as a minimum)
- sick, holiday and parental leave pay
- being able to claim redundancy and unfair dismissal after 2 years' service
As an employee, you should usually expect to see a variety of policies and procedures in place to support you at work.
Specifically, in relation to resolving issues in the workplace, you should be able to access a disciplinary procedure which is used by an employer to address an employees conduct or performance.
Similarly, a grievance procedure is used to deal with a problem or complaint raised by an employee. Following the steps in the grievance procedure can act as a more formal way of resolving issues in the workplace.
More detailed information on these topics can be found on the ACAS website:
Discrimination in the workplace
Unfortunately, discrimination in the workplace can be a significant source of stress and is something that most people will experience at some point in their working life. In addition to trying to resolve these and other issues within the workplace, employees can also make a claim to an Employment Tribunal if they feel that they have experienced discrimination.
Discrimination in the workplace is illegal when the victim is a member of a protected category (i.e. gender, age, disability, religion, race, sexual orientation, pregnancy and national origin). The most common workplace discrimination claims usually centre around race, disability, sex and age.
The Citizens Advice website explains in more detail the different types of discrimination.
Having difficult conversations at work
This article from Harvard Business Review magazine gives advice on how to handle difficult conversations at work.
Returning to work after a break
Returning to work after illness
There are many different reasons you might need to take time off from your job – and, whether you only were off for a few days, a few weeks, or even longer, taking the step to get back into work can sometimes seem like a pretty tough task.
To help you get back to normality as smoothly as possible, here are some tips from Reed to help you return to work after sickness:
1. Keep in touch
In order to make your return to work go as smoothly as possible – you need to make sure you’re keeping in touch with your employer throughout your time off.
Not only will regular contact keep them updated on your progress and overall wellbeing, it’ll also give them a good idea of when you’re likely to come back. Then, they’ll be able to plan your return around their calendar.
This doesn’t mean you have to share personal details or call them daily – but it does mean you need to make sure they have all the information they need to ensure work is allocated sensibly and effectively when you’re back.
For example, informing them of your capabilities (e.g. whether you’ll be able to do any heavy lifting) is essential if you want to ensure you’re not taking on more than you should.
2. Get a fit note
Once you’ve been sick for more than seven days in a row – it’s essential to get a fit note (or statement of fitness for work) from your GP or hospital doctor. Also referred to as medical statements or doctor’s notes, fit notes provide formal evidence of how fit you are for work – including details of how your condition affects your functionality. This allows your employer to think of ways to help you return to work.
If you’ve been off for longer than four weeks – your GP or employer can then refer you to Fit for Work – which works to help you put together a safe and effective Return to Work Plan, taking into account any support or changes you may need.
3. Consider reasonable adjustments
Returning to work might not always be an overnight job. And depending on the reason you took time out, you might need to ask your employer for reasonable adjustments to help you get back into the swing of things. This arrangement is often referred to as a ‘phased return to work’, and involves you returning to your regular duties and/or working hours gradually – usually over a period of 4 weeks or less.
Whether it’s that your workload is reduced, you work part-time hours at first, or a clear review policy is put in place to help give you some direction – temporary adjustments like these are often needed to ensure you’re not feeling too pressured when you first get back. For example – those off for stress will benefit from a reduced level of pressure on their return, whilst someone off for a physical injury may need to avoid (or minimise) manual labour until they’re fully recovered.
4. Don't overthink it
If you’ve been off work for a long time – the thought of going back can be a daunting prospect.
Not only have you had to deal with a long-term illness, you’ve also had to put the time and energy into recovering – which can often result in a blow to your confidence. In fact, you’ve been out of the loop so long that you’re beginning to wonder whether you’ve forgotten how to do your job. But don’t panic. Returning to work after sickness will always seem scary at first – but you’ll be surprised at how things return back to routine and normality after just one day back in the workplace.
And remember: your employer should’ve kept your illness confidential, so there’s no need to worry about the whole office knowing your life story. You also have no obligation to tell anyone if they ask. So stop overthinking every aspect of your first day back, and instead focus on taking the small steps you need to get back into work.
5. Don't put too much pressure on yourself
Let’s face it, you’re the only one who’s going to know when you’re ready to go back to work. And even if you do feel like you’re up to it, you might not be as able as you thought when the first week back finally comes. But this doesn’t mean you have to push yourself to do everything straight away.
Instead, speak to your manager to ask for support – whether it’s through flexible working hours or a reduction in the amount of work you’re given. Then, focus on what you can do, not what you can’t.
Returning to work after maternity leave
Returning to work after maternity leave can be tough. The tips below from nct.org will help you plan your return and know your rights, flexible working, options and childcare.
You might slot straight back into work after
maternity leave, or feel like it’ll take ages to get used to being apart from
your baby. Knowing more about this transition and your rights around it can
help you feel more confident when the time comes.
Your rights when you go back to work after maternity leave
If you’re returning to work after 26 weeks or less, you’re entitled to return to the same job. If you’re returning after more than 26 weeks’, you still have the right to return to the same job unless your employer has a good business reason why not. If this is the case, your employer should offer you a suitable alternative job with the same terms and conditions.
A good business reason might be where your employer has made significant changes in the organisation while you were on leave and your job and your colleagues’ jobs have changed. It’s not a good reason if your employer is keeping the person covering your maternity leave in your post and offering you something different.
If your employer doesn’t give you your job back, you may have a claim for unfair dismissal, automatic unfair dismissal and/or maternity discrimination. If you want to do that, you should seek legal advice – see the end of this page for contact details. You have three months to make a claim and you should contact Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) for Early Conciliation to do so.
Options if you need to take more time off
Your employer should assume that you are taking the full 52 weeks’ maternity leave. If you want to return to work earlier, you must give at least eight weeks’ notice to return to work early. For example, some women return to work when their maternity pay ends after 39 weeks.
If you are not well enough to return to work at the end of your maternity leave, you are entitled to take sick leave in the normal way. That means you should notify your employer, providing any sick notes required.
If your employer usually pays full sick pay, you are entitled to this after maternity leave. If you usually get Statutory Sick Pay, you may not be entitled to it if your earnings were not high enough in the previous eight weeks, see: www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay
You accrue annual leave as normal during your maternity leave so you could ask your employer if you can use up some holiday.
If you need further time off you could give notice to take Parental Leave. You could also talk to your employer about a career break or a further period of unpaid leave. It is a good idea to confirm it in writing and to talk to your employer about whether you will be returning to the same job.
Six tips on returning to work after maternity leave
1. You could ask for a phased return
For example, you could ask to use your annual leave to work a shorter week for the first month, or reduce your hours on a temporary basis.
2. You could agree a back-to-work plan with a handover
This can be helpful while you get back up to speed, but don’t feel tied to it – it's OK to go at your own pace.
3. Try to plan regular reviews with your line manager
A weekly update is useful to talk about what is working well and to raise issues. It also helps to show your boss that you’re adding value.
4. Try to agree a date for an objectives-setting meeting
A good time for this will be about two months after your return to work. Use this meeting to agree short-term objectives and to talk about your career plan. This will show your commitment and professionalism.
5. Try not to worry about asking for help
It’s very easy for those you work with to assume everything is OK if you don’t say anything.
6. Try to review your life and career goals after you have been back for a couple of months
It can be really useful to do this, especially with all of the demands of work and looking after your child so that you can make sure the balance between work and home feels right and above all, you are happy!
Flexible working after maternity leave
You might choose to work differently after having your baby to balance your job with your family or childcare needs. Flexible working could be an option for you to consider. For example, you could work part-time, term-times only, work from home or a job share.
All employees are entitled to request changes to their hours of work, days or work or place of work after they have been with the company for at least 26 weeks. This is called a ‘request for flexible work’. You should make a written application and think carefully about how it would work in your role. Find out more about choosing flexible working.
Feeling happy with your childcare can help make you feel more relaxed about returning to work. Read an article about childcare options.
It can feel strange having a foot in two different worlds. You’ll be in the working world where you carry on as you did before the birth, and then you’ve got your new life with your baby. But try to remember that most people find the right balance eventually.
Further information and support
Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship. Organisations like National Childbirth Trust (NCT) can be very helpful.
ACAS offers advice on employment rights and early conciliation. Its Helpline Online can answer questions on employee rights.
Maternity Action for information and advice on maternity and parental rights at work on 0808 802 0029
Working Families helpline on 0300 012 0312
Other resources and websites
She's Back: Your guide to returning to work. By Lisa Unwin and Deb Khan
Mother's Work! How to get a grip on guilt and make a smooth return to work. By Jessica Chivers
Boost your visibility - article by talentkeepers.co.uk
How to return to work after a career break - article by The Balance Careers
Being made redundant
If you have been made redundant and are looking for immediate advice, here are some simple dos and don’ts:
- remember that this happens to many people so it's not your fault!
- take advice and check your rights
- remember that the company has to consult with you so you can discuss why you were selected for redundancy
- find out what other roles could be available with the company if you want to stay
- remember that you are allowed to be accompanied by a colleague at redundancy consultation meetings if you want to
- find out whether the redundancy payment offered to you is negotiable - companies are sometimes willing to pay more than originally offered in order to get your agreement
- think about whether you want to do a similar role again or something different
- make sure you have an up to date CV
- contact your network and continually expand your network (most jobs don't get advertised but are filled by contacts!)
- get on the internet to look for job opportunities
- be proactive
- make decisions on the spur of the moment - take your time to consider what options you have
The following advice on redundancy is sourced from the charity Mind.
Coping with redundancy
Whether expected or sudden, redundancy can cause huge uncertainty, stress and anxiety, and can make existing mental health problems worse. Here are some practical considerations to work through so that you can better look after yourself and your mental health during the redundancy process.
In addition, the coronavirus outbreak is putting huge financial pressures on our workforce and many organisations are facing very difficult decisions related to staffing. Even with support measures in place from the Government, like the Job Retention Scheme, some industries have ceased operations altogether while others cannot retain staff on a long-term basis due to financial issues.
Know your rights
If you are made redundant, it’s important to know your rights. You can only be chosen for redundancy fairly — never based on your age, gender, disability, or mental health status, if this is something you think may have been a factor in the decision to make you redundant, you are an employee and you have over two years’ service, you have rights related to redundancy and unfair dismissal. Check out ACAS’ information on redundancy and rights.
Practical advice when moving through the redundancy process
It's really important that you try to remain calm and focused when going through redundancy discussions with your employer. These discussions usually take a few weeks to conclude because your employer (regardless of how many people are impacted) is legally required to consult with you about the proposed decision to make your redundant as well as to try and mitigate your redundancy by trying to find you alternative employment elsewhere in the business.
Below are some practical considerations to bear in mind when moving through the process with your employer:
- Remember to ask lots of questions if things are not clear
- Ask for everything to be confirmed to you in writing
- Expect to be given notice of meetings and discussions so that you have time to prepare and also consider whether you would like a colleague to attend the meetings to support you
- Make sure you understand the steps ahead of you and what is required from you, e.g. participating in a selection process for any remaining or different jobs
- Try to comply with any requests for decisions, completing paperwork on time so that the process can move smoothly and you can get clarity as soon as possible
- Try a way to balance the need to focus your energy on yourself as well as be supportive of other colleagues who may be a similar position; you may find you need to distance yourself from any gossip/ grapevine as this can be damaging to your mental health and may affect your position
- The legal framework in the UK for making employees redundant is very well established in law and well set out on the ACAS website; this should be your first port of call before feeling like you need to seek wider legal advice
- Do find out what your statutory entitlements are both for notice periods and also statutory redundancy payments so you know the legal minimum you must receive from your employer; anything above the value of these figures is at the discretion of your employer unless its clearly laid out in employment policy/ procedures.
- If you are asked to sign a settlement agreement as part of the ending of your employment, this is often usual practice. To do this, you will need to instruct a solicitor to check the agreement is ok before you sign it and your employer should either contribute to the cost of this or cover the fees entirely.
- When you are ready to start to think about the future and what might come next, if possible, make sure you devote a good amount of time to this process; finding another job can often be a full time job in itself and often your initial thoughts might not be the right option for you.
Take stock of how you're feeling
Losing a job is a huge adjustment and it’s normal to experience a range of emotions. We may feel shock, anger, resentment, relief and much more all in a short period of time. Even when you know the decision is the right outcome and you feel positive about leaving this period of employment, feelings of rejection and loss are still very common.
Make sure you give yourself space and time to express these feelings, and talk to other people about what you are experiencing; recognising the losses and the things you will miss, no longer have is important. Being made redundant during the pandemic is nothing to be ashamed of; you are not to blame for this turn of events and having some social support during this time can help you cope.
Being out of work can have a big impact on your self-esteem and sense of identity. If your job has always been a big part of your life you may wonder who you are without it. Be kind to yourself during this difficult time and use it as a chance to reflect on what makes you feel happy and fulfilled. Writing a list of all the skills and qualities you have and what aspects of your work make you happy and fulfilled can be really helpful in thinking through what might come next. See the section on finding the right job for you for more practical information.
Manage your money
If you are made redundant, your finances are probably one of the first practical things you’ll be thinking about, and we know money can be a huge source of stress and worry. Money and mental health are often linked. When we’re struggling with our mental health it can be hard to manage our finances, and if we’re worried about money it can make our mental health worse.
Creating a budget can be a good first step if you’re not sure where to start – the Money Advice Service can help with this. Some people may find it helpful to choose a regular time each week to look at bills and other spending to stop things piling up, or only withdrawing the amount of money you intend to spend each week.
For more information on money and mental health, and a list of organisations who can help, visit the Money and Mental Health pages on the Mind website.
Coping with uncertainty
Redundancy can lead to lots of worries about the future and the pandemic feels very unpredictable right now. If you’re struggling with feelings of uncertainty, try to focus on the things you can control. You may not be able to get your old job back, but you can spend some time polishing your CV and reaching out to your old contacts. By accepting the things we can’t control, we can start to focus our energy on the things we can.
Keep busy, or take some time off
Adjusting to a change of routine following redundancy can be difficult, but coping with this change during the coronavirus outbreak can be even more challenging. It’s likely you’ll be spending a lot more time at home than you usually would and you may wonder how to fill your time if you aren’t in a position to find another job.
If you’re someone who prefers to keep your brain stimulated and challenged, why not listen to podcasts, watch films and do puzzles? You could also consider volunteering or learning a new skill. Depending on your trade, now might not be the ideal time to find a new job, but keeping yourself focused and setting yourself challenges can help to improve your self-esteem for when the right role comes up. FutureLearn and OpenLearn have free online courses you could try. Keeping your brain working and being challenged can be really helpful.
If you need some time out to relax and unwind, then do use the pause in your employment as an opportunity to prioritise self-care. You deserve it. Things like yoga, colouring and DIY can be a great way to switch off, as can tidying – why not have a spring clean? You could also have a digital clear out. Delete any old files and apps you don't use, upgrade your software, or clear out your inboxes. Providing you make sure that you aren’t keeping frantically busy as a way of avoiding your feelings, you’ll feel the benefits of achieving small tasks, especially if they are things at home that you have wanted to do for a while!
The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and following containment measures will have a long-lasting impact on the economy, businesses and working lives. Organisations have had to make rapid changes to how they operate, including how and where jobs are carried out, as well as planning for, or returning staff to work safely. Workers in turn, have to navigate new ways of working, as well as adapt to changing circumstances in their personal life.
Below are the links to the government’s current job retention scheme (furlough) and the employer specific guidance together with the ACAS guide for Coronavirus.
It is widely reported that the pandemic will significantly change the way work is carried out, potentially forever. The following articles give an overview of the potential changes we may see in the months to come:
As a result, there are a number of practical considerations for all workers. The Mind website has lots of useful information for those working from home, keyworkers and those starting to see long term changes to the way work is carried out. The mental health website also provides information on useful strategies on coping with anxiety associated with returning to work after furlough.
Thinking about retirement
Retirement planning has evolved rapidly over the last couple of decades. Fewer people enjoy the guaranteed income that comes with a final salary pension, and you now have to wait for longer to qualify for the state pension.
Whilst it’s really important to think through all of the financial considerations and prepare; it’s as important to also think about how you are going to spend your time. Top tips from recent retirees include:
- Plan what you are going to do with your time. When you’ve been working hard and you’ve been working long hours, you tend to not have had any time for hobbies. You will now need to be intentional about what you would like to do.
- Start thinking about a hobby or interest that you would like to pursue.
- Find friends, because your social circle gets smaller when you leave work. You can join a club, do an evening class or simply invite a neighbour in for a coffee.
- Be positive and go out and do things. There are so many free things to do. When you become a retiree, you can feel like you lose your identity but it’s important to remember that you still have a contribution to make to life and society as an older person, its just potentially different to when you were working.
- Don’t be negative and always look for the positive things in life. Consider meditation and also make sure you acknowledge the good things when they happen!
- Make sure you get a handle on technology because it really does allow you to do a lot of things including keeping in touch with family and learning lots of new and different things.
The financial checklist below will help you to do all you can to ensure a smooth transition into your post-working years:
- Get an idea how much your retirement income is likely to be. Your pension fund should build up over your working life, but you may not have an idea how much you are on track to end up with. Pension statements are useful to indicate the annual retirement income likely to be generated by your final salary pension or the current fund size of a defined contribution plan.
- Check your state pension. The rising state pension age (SPA) means that people are getting this regular government-provided income at a later age. However, once you do receive it the state pension can provide a major boost to your finances. A couple claiming the full basic state pension will receive a minimum of around £14,000 per year under the old system and approximately £18,200 with the new state pension (if both people receive the full level of new state pension – many will receive less). A state pension forecast will help you to gauge how much you’re on course to get from the government.
- Track your expenditure before you retire. How much you spend in retirement will vary as you move through the different post-employment stages. Having an idea of expenditure levels will certainly help you to plan for the longer-term. You’re likely to have less money to live on than previously, but you could be mortgage-free and travels costs related to work will disappear.
- When should you start drawing your pension? There is now much greater flexibility in the ways that you can access your retirement savings and when you can start withdrawing the money. You don’t have to stop working to take your pension – as long as you are aged 55 and over. The earlier you start taking your pension, however, the earlier you might find that the pot starts to deplete.
- Get professional help and advice. You are not on your own when it comes to making financial decisions in relation to retirement. If you have some complex decisions to make, it is probably best to talk through the options with a financial adviser.
The link below includes some useful videos from Martin Lewis from BBC Radio 4’s Moneybox programme: