Zara’s Story: To Retrench or ‘Repurpose & Redeploy’

Recently I was sitting in a Sydney coffee shop busy on my laptop when a woman looked over at me and said “I know you! You’re Carolyn Tate. I listened to your podcast about purpose at work and I just bought your book.”

In seconds, we were up hugging and chatting. After 30 years in IT with the same company, I’ve just been retrenched,” said Zara. “I’m not sure what I’m going to do next. There’s not many jobs out there for people with my skills in IT.” I could hear the fear in her voice around the uncertainty of her future.

“So what did you really want to do before you went into IT?” I enquired. “I wanted to be a naturopath but I couldn’t see how I could make a living from it at the time and support my two young sons,” she replied wistfully. “I’ve always been into natural medicine, good food and exercise though – it’s in my DNA. Our family has really benefited and we’re all really healthy as a result.”

As I grabbed my laptop to head off to my next meeting, I asked permission to share an idea. “Why not adopt a Purpose Project to test the viability of making a living from your knowledge and expertise in health? You could then pitch the idea to your old company and if they don’t want it, then pitch it to the competition. There’s not an IT company in the world who is not concerned about the health and wellbeing of their people and its impact on performance and productivity,” I suggested.

Hours after meeting Zara, I was still ruminating on our conversation. Could there have been an option to retrenchment? How might Zara have been ‘repurposed and redeployed’ at her company instead of let go? What are the very real benefits to the company (and Zara) in doing this? And whose responsibility was it to make it happen? Was it Zara’s? Was it her managers? Was it the people responsible for masterminding the retrenchment program? How might Zara have taken on her pet Purpose Project (in her own time and/or the companies) while she was still gainfully employed? And finally, how do we best ignite the purpose conversation amongst the appointed leaders and self-leaders in companies?

With 47% of jobs set to disappear in the next 25 years with the shift to automation and AI, we’ll see millions of people retrenched and displaced with no place to go. The purpose conversation is going to become an imperative as the world of work evolves. Leaders that truly care about their people (and their brand reputation) will be called upon to become both igniters and curators of purpose in their people. They’ll first consider how people like Zara can be repurposed and redeployed before retrenched. Zara will be invited to bring her own purpose to work (BYO Purpose) for the benefit of all.

So how well is your company faring on purpose? Have you considered how to best repurpose and redeploy your people in this new technology age? Perhaps I can help? It all starts with a simple conversation. Contact me if you’re up for one.

With love and purpose