August 17, 2015
Factors that Influence your Reaction to the Layoff:
These include the following: Job loss is a very stressful event that causes a wide variety of reactions and changes in the people who experience it. A number of factors may have influenced the way you reacted to your layoff.
❧ The circumstances of the layoff
❧ Your personal situation and characteristics
❧ Future prospects
The manner in which you learned of your layoff may have had an impact on your initial reaction and your period of adjustment. For instance, if you were prepared your reaction may be vastly different from your reaction If you had received no advance wanting. Other circumstances that may have affected your reaction include how the company treated you:
Did they offer you support, including a severance package and outplacement services?
Did they provide you with a period of transition, or move you off the premises immediately following the layoff notification?
Let’s look at each of these scenarios a little more carefully.
No Advance Warning
If you had received no indication of possible layoff or were confident that your position was secure despite layoff in other areas, your reaction may have been one of disbelief and shock.
The company was suffering financially, but up until then they hadn’t laid off any professional staff. I was the First one. I was in a state of total shock…actually when I think back, I was so upset that day that I shouldn’t have even driven home….” Stephanie, 37, pharmacist
Other possible reactions include anger, panic, and denial. These responses are typical. If you are experiencing any of these reactions, allow yourself to take some time to work through these emotions before making any important decisions, or taking any actions that may be the source of regret later. Your period of adjustment may be somewhat longer than it would be for someone who had time to prepare themselves for the layoff.
Rumors of Possible Layoffs
It is not uncommon these days for word to get out long before the action occurs about shutdowns, merger and downsizing. Whether the rumors are facts or simply unfounded, you may have been on an emotional roller coaster ride long before you were aid off Uncertainty, fear and anger are just some of the changing emotions you may have experienced if you were in this position.
For some. the rumors may have served as somewhat of a cushion and the opportunity to have prepared oneself mentally, emotionally and financially.
” Because it had always been in the back of my mind as a possibility, I really wasn’t shocked. So, when the department head called me in I knew what to expect. ” Gary, 34, civil technologist
Rumors may have also provided you with the incentive to start looking for another job or to consider making a career change. On the other hand, you may be feeling very bitter if you disregarded the rumors and did not prepare for the layoff.
Company Informs Employees that Layoffs will Occur
Many organizations have taken to informing their employees as much as a year in advance that X number of employees will be laid off. In some cases, employees have been given the opportunity to take a voluntary separation package prior to the forced layoffs. If this was true In your case you may have reacted more favorably. having had the opportunity to take some control over an unpleasant situation.
” I took the package. It gave me the opportunity to do something I had been wanting to do For a long time. Terry, 36, counselor
If you had made the choice not to take the voluntary package, or if you were not given the option, perhaps the advance notice helped you prepare for the layoff in some way.
” I guess I still never thought it would happen to me, you know, it’s always the next guy…, but when it did happen I can’t say I was totally shocked, because they told us it was coming.” Jerry, 39, laborer
“I had helped create the severance package so I knew how it worked. And I hadn’t been with the company for very long, so I had a feeling I would be one of the ones laid off. It was actually a bit of a relief…not having to wait and wonder anymore.”. Vivian, 44, secretary
Manner in which the Company Treated You
In addition to the way the company chose to inform you of the layoff and the way they treated you may also have had an impact on your reaction to the news. Interviewees responded more favorably when they felt they were treated with dignity and respect.
” I could tell it was really hard for her to tell me…she was caring and concerned about my reaction. I was upset, but I left the office laughing!” Vivian, 44, secretary
In cases where the employers clearly stated to the employee that the layoff was not due to personal or performance issues, the adjustment was easier for the employee.
The support services offered by employers may serve as somewhat of a buffer to the laid-off worker. These include severance packages, outplacement services, continuation of benefits, etc.
If your former employer offered minimal or no support services you may have greater feelings of anxiety about your future, and be angry and bitter toward your former employer.
Period of Transition
Some employers offer employees the option to stay on the job for a predetermined period. Other employers provide no transition time, making the layoff effective immediately. Reaction to a period of transition varied among the interviewees.
“The letter said the position was no longer required and they told me I was going with the job. It was 2:30 in the afternoon and they hustled me right out the door. Except for myself and one other, all the others who were laid off were able to stay on the job for 90 days. I felt rejected. It was very upsetting” Derek, 45, transportation planning engineer
“I was told I could not clean out my desk, in fact, he (the boss) went and got my purse. Initially I was insulted because I had handled security for the whole building. But then, if you look at it logically, I can see why they had to do it that way. I’m comfortable with the way it was handled.” Jean, late 40’s, office supervisor
Employees receiving news of the layoff tend to respond in one of three ways: as a victim, a survivor, or a navigator. A victim tends to feel powerless, even abused. A survivor brushes them self off and moves on. A navigator takes control of the situation, using it as an opportunity to chart a new course. The role each person adopts is largely determined by their personal characteristics and situation. You may wish to consider which role you are going to adopt. Below, a number of factors are discussed including two powerful predictors of reactions to job loss:
FINANCIAL STATUS AND ATTACHMENT TO THE JOB
The status of your finances plays a large part in the way you react to the layoff. If you have very few financial commitments and a handsome severance package you will likely have fewer immediate concerns than the individual who has a heavy debt load and a modest (or non-existent) severance package. Another consideration here is whether you are the only (or primary) “breadwinner” in the family. It is not uncommon these days to find families where layoffs have occurred for both wage earners, in which case, the results can be devastating.
“We both worked for he some company, so w~en the lay-offs hit, they really hit We’re looking into selling our house.” Barb, 40, cashier
Attachment to the Job
If the job you’ve been laid off from was your “dream job”, then the impact of the loss may be overwhelming. If you were truly committed to your work and had visions of advancement, then your reaction and adjustment period may be dramatically different than it would be for someone who was less committed to their work.
Layoffs are not easy for any particular age group. If you are a young person, new to the workforce, you may be devastated, having lost a job you spent years preparing for. You may lack the experience necessary to be competitive in a tight job market. If you are 45 years old or older, you may be similarly affected, thinking that you can’t compete with the younger worker who has more recent education/training and may accept a lower wage. You may also feel out of touch with the current labor market.
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