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Be humane in dealing with those retrenched

It was heart-wrenching to read the commentaries by editor-in-chief of Singapore Press Holdings' English/Malay/Tamil Media Group Warren Fernandez and Opinion editor Chua Mui Hoong (Painful days as media grapples with disruption, and Anatomy of a retrenchment; both published on Oct 22).

The sobering truth is that disruption brought on by technology is upon us. None is spared. This will not stop any time soon, and grapple with it we must, lest we be left behind.

But we are only human. In such trying times, we must be humane in dealing with those retrenched.

The logic of commerce cannot subsume the emotions of those affected, who were, until the day before, factors of production for the enterprise.

Adopting a septic and matter-of-fact approach can only demotivate those left behind. Such difficult moments call for an enterprise to step up to its corporate social responsibility.

On a personal level, being retrenched spells not an end but, perhaps, a much-needed new beginning. We can break from the dreary routine that has made us complacent. We could head back to school, reconnect with old ties and spruce up our network for leads for work.

We could gather with the like-minded in setting up a business or even social enterprise.

We could travel the world for quiet reflection so as to seek clarity for the future.

It could also be a time to re-examine our finances and discern needs from wants.

We should be sensitive to those who are retrenched and not give them undue social pressure.

Often, granting a listening ear is all that is needed. Who knows? In this disruptive age, we could be next in line to be displaced.

Lee Teck Chuan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 29, 2017, with the headline 'Be humane in dealing with those retrenched'. Print Edition | Subscribe