Surviving a Layoff at Your Organization

Reviewed Jan 17, 2020

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Summary

  • Allow yourself some time to process shock and sadness.
  • Fight your feelings of guilt.
  • Realize that layoffs aren’t personal.

There’s another side to the layoff story—one involving the company “survivors.” It probably comes as no surprise that layoff survivors can experience decreased morale and loyalty and more gossip and resignations.

Layoffs, intended to decrease costs and increase productivity and efficiency, often create fallout among remaining employees. If you’ve made the cut, you might find yourself feeling guilty, angry, anxious, and overburdened rather than relieved. Just as the newly unemployed must reassess and readjust, so do those left to face company life after downsizing. 

Survivor syndrome

Layoff survivors often must cope with feelings of fear, insecurity, resentment, anger, sadness, betrayal, distrust, and guilt. You may find yourself asking, “Why me?” and “Could it happen to me?” And unfortunately, you also might find that your relationship with laid-off co-workers becomes strained.

Rather than let stress get the best of you, you can be proactive:

  • Allow yourself some time to process shock and sadness. Those feelings are normal, and require time to pass.
  • Fight your feelings of guilt. Accept that you’ve earned the right to stay.
  • Realize that layoffs aren’t personal. Try to separate the people who had to make the cuts from their actions.
  • Reassess your goals. Decide if you want to stay with your job, or leave and find another opportunity.
  • Let go of your instinct to worry about and defend your colleagues who lost their jobs. They may find great opportunities elsewhere.
  • Come up with strategies to improve your work and company systems, instead of complaining or gossiping.

Coping with extra responsibilities

People who work for companies that have downsized or have had difficulty hiring new employees tend to feel more overworked, say researchers from the New York-based Families and Work Institute. If you survived a layoff, you may feel like you’re left to do more with less. You can cope:

  • Research your company’s goals to see where your responsibilities fit in. If you understand the overall vision, you can prioritize your tasks effectively.
  • Make “not-to-do lists” as well as “to-do lists.” Before plunging in, first identify those tasks that aren’t so important.
  • Rather than slouching, set yourself apart by raising your hand to help out. Foster enthusiasm. Your supervisor will remember your efforts.
  • Take control. Volunteer for new projects that make you more essential. Look for new opportunities rather than getting bogged down in administrative trivia or passively taking whatever work gets thrown your way.
  • Take care of yourself. Don’t neglect your diet and sleep needs.

Moving on

The bottom line when coping with a layoff: Don’t contribute to negativity. You’ll need time to grieve, and you should find people with whom to discuss the situation. Gossiping, complaining, blaming, and dragging your feet will not help—and may negatively affect your health and career. Be respectful; remember that getting caught in that negative loop also can have consequences for your fellow survivors.

Once you’ve come to grips with the situation, decide whether you want to spend your time feeling angry and resentful, or embrace the change as an opportunity.

By Kristen Knight
Source: ABC News; American Management Association; azcentral.com; Bangor Daily News; Families and Work Institute; SmartMoney.com; Financial Finesse Inc.; Society for Human Resource Management; USA Today Jobs; Work Friendly Inc.; The New Organizational Reality by Marilyn K. Gowing, John D. Kraft and James Campbell Quick, eds. American Psychological Association, 1998.

Summary

  • Allow yourself some time to process shock and sadness.
  • Fight your feelings of guilt.
  • Realize that layoffs aren’t personal.

There’s another side to the layoff story—one involving the company “survivors.” It probably comes as no surprise that layoff survivors can experience decreased morale and loyalty and more gossip and resignations.

Layoffs, intended to decrease costs and increase productivity and efficiency, often create fallout among remaining employees. If you’ve made the cut, you might find yourself feeling guilty, angry, anxious, and overburdened rather than relieved. Just as the newly unemployed must reassess and readjust, so do those left to face company life after downsizing. 

Survivor syndrome

Layoff survivors often must cope with feelings of fear, insecurity, resentment, anger, sadness, betrayal, distrust, and guilt. You may find yourself asking, “Why me?” and “Could it happen to me?” And unfortunately, you also might find that your relationship with laid-off co-workers becomes strained.

Rather than let stress get the best of you, you can be proactive:

  • Allow yourself some time to process shock and sadness. Those feelings are normal, and require time to pass.
  • Fight your feelings of guilt. Accept that you’ve earned the right to stay.
  • Realize that layoffs aren’t personal. Try to separate the people who had to make the cuts from their actions.
  • Reassess your goals. Decide if you want to stay with your job, or leave and find another opportunity.
  • Let go of your instinct to worry about and defend your colleagues who lost their jobs. They may find great opportunities elsewhere.
  • Come up with strategies to improve your work and company systems, instead of complaining or gossiping.

Coping with extra responsibilities

People who work for companies that have downsized or have had difficulty hiring new employees tend to feel more overworked, say researchers from the New York-based Families and Work Institute. If you survived a layoff, you may feel like you’re left to do more with less. You can cope:

  • Research your company’s goals to see where your responsibilities fit in. If you understand the overall vision, you can prioritize your tasks effectively.
  • Make “not-to-do lists” as well as “to-do lists.” Before plunging in, first identify those tasks that aren’t so important.
  • Rather than slouching, set yourself apart by raising your hand to help out. Foster enthusiasm. Your supervisor will remember your efforts.
  • Take control. Volunteer for new projects that make you more essential. Look for new opportunities rather than getting bogged down in administrative trivia or passively taking whatever work gets thrown your way.
  • Take care of yourself. Don’t neglect your diet and sleep needs.

Moving on

The bottom line when coping with a layoff: Don’t contribute to negativity. You’ll need time to grieve, and you should find people with whom to discuss the situation. Gossiping, complaining, blaming, and dragging your feet will not help—and may negatively affect your health and career. Be respectful; remember that getting caught in that negative loop also can have consequences for your fellow survivors.

Once you’ve come to grips with the situation, decide whether you want to spend your time feeling angry and resentful, or embrace the change as an opportunity.

By Kristen Knight
Source: ABC News; American Management Association; azcentral.com; Bangor Daily News; Families and Work Institute; SmartMoney.com; Financial Finesse Inc.; Society for Human Resource Management; USA Today Jobs; Work Friendly Inc.; The New Organizational Reality by Marilyn K. Gowing, John D. Kraft and James Campbell Quick, eds. American Psychological Association, 1998.

Summary

  • Allow yourself some time to process shock and sadness.
  • Fight your feelings of guilt.
  • Realize that layoffs aren’t personal.

There’s another side to the layoff story—one involving the company “survivors.” It probably comes as no surprise that layoff survivors can experience decreased morale and loyalty and more gossip and resignations.

Layoffs, intended to decrease costs and increase productivity and efficiency, often create fallout among remaining employees. If you’ve made the cut, you might find yourself feeling guilty, angry, anxious, and overburdened rather than relieved. Just as the newly unemployed must reassess and readjust, so do those left to face company life after downsizing. 

Survivor syndrome

Layoff survivors often must cope with feelings of fear, insecurity, resentment, anger, sadness, betrayal, distrust, and guilt. You may find yourself asking, “Why me?” and “Could it happen to me?” And unfortunately, you also might find that your relationship with laid-off co-workers becomes strained.

Rather than let stress get the best of you, you can be proactive:

  • Allow yourself some time to process shock and sadness. Those feelings are normal, and require time to pass.
  • Fight your feelings of guilt. Accept that you’ve earned the right to stay.
  • Realize that layoffs aren’t personal. Try to separate the people who had to make the cuts from their actions.
  • Reassess your goals. Decide if you want to stay with your job, or leave and find another opportunity.
  • Let go of your instinct to worry about and defend your colleagues who lost their jobs. They may find great opportunities elsewhere.
  • Come up with strategies to improve your work and company systems, instead of complaining or gossiping.

Coping with extra responsibilities

People who work for companies that have downsized or have had difficulty hiring new employees tend to feel more overworked, say researchers from the New York-based Families and Work Institute. If you survived a layoff, you may feel like you’re left to do more with less. You can cope:

  • Research your company’s goals to see where your responsibilities fit in. If you understand the overall vision, you can prioritize your tasks effectively.
  • Make “not-to-do lists” as well as “to-do lists.” Before plunging in, first identify those tasks that aren’t so important.
  • Rather than slouching, set yourself apart by raising your hand to help out. Foster enthusiasm. Your supervisor will remember your efforts.
  • Take control. Volunteer for new projects that make you more essential. Look for new opportunities rather than getting bogged down in administrative trivia or passively taking whatever work gets thrown your way.
  • Take care of yourself. Don’t neglect your diet and sleep needs.

Moving on

The bottom line when coping with a layoff: Don’t contribute to negativity. You’ll need time to grieve, and you should find people with whom to discuss the situation. Gossiping, complaining, blaming, and dragging your feet will not help—and may negatively affect your health and career. Be respectful; remember that getting caught in that negative loop also can have consequences for your fellow survivors.

Once you’ve come to grips with the situation, decide whether you want to spend your time feeling angry and resentful, or embrace the change as an opportunity.

By Kristen Knight
Source: ABC News; American Management Association; azcentral.com; Bangor Daily News; Families and Work Institute; SmartMoney.com; Financial Finesse Inc.; Society for Human Resource Management; USA Today Jobs; Work Friendly Inc.; The New Organizational Reality by Marilyn K. Gowing, John D. Kraft and James Campbell Quick, eds. American Psychological Association, 1998.

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, assessments, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological, or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2019 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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