Surviving a Layoff (Employee)

Five tips for both the employer and employee. Part two Employee

No one that I know of is comfortable with the thought of preparing for a staff reduction.  Both employers and employees are often placed into unchartered waters.  Everyone has questions and finding or knowing the answers often seems as easy as walking through quicksand.  I have a unique perspective as I have personally been on the receiving end of the “thank you for your dedication and oh sorry, you don’t get the five year service award company water bottle” and the “economic times are forcing us to reduce staff, now what do we do?” sides of the current and difficult times we are facing today.  So, to help navigate, here are a few suggestions:

For the Employee

  1. Acknowledge that everyone is subject to being chosen as one of the “non-essential” personnel no matter how talented you are or how long you have worked for your employer.  Don’t fall victim to believing you won’t be affected.  Even if you survive the reduction, you and your colleagues will still experience fear, stress and increased work loads due to the forced actions.

  2. Prepare in advance.  Do an audit on your personal life and create a budget if you don’t already have one.  Review your expenses and determine what you might be able to cut back on and put that money away now. Remember when Mom said to “save for a rainy day?”  I hate it when I realize Mom was right!  But honestly, putting away 3-6 months of expenses makes the difference between stressing out and freaking out!  No matter what your income, saving even a little will help.  And if you are not affected by the economic downturn, you will have a nice little savings that you wouldn’t have otherwise achieved.

  3. Evaluate your options.  If you do become one of the growing statistics and are laid off, take a deep breath.  Next, take a little time to think about what you like to do, what you want to do and what you need to meet your lifestyle goals.  I guarantee that you will experience a flood of emotions and they will occur at various times through the process—even when you don’t expect them.  But, stay the course and adversity will eventually become opportunity and in time you will look back at the journey and realize that it may just be the best time of your life!

  4. Have a plan.  Put together a job search map to help you get from point A to point B.   Network with friends, family and contacts.  At first you might not want to tell people what has happened because of embarrassment.  Speaking from personal experience, being a part of a lay-off is nothing to feel embarrassed about.  It happens to the best of us and it is unfortunately a common thing right now.  Some of the most talented people I know have been released of their duties.  Utilize unemployment services such as training seminars and job postings. Post your resume on job boards and target companies that you want to contribute your talents to.  Spend dedicated time daily to your search and customize each application to what the employer is seeking.  In essence, show them how you will help fill their need and provide concrete examples from past performance.

  5. Enjoy & have fun.  What?  How can you enjoy and have fun when everything is falling apart?  I understand this reaction and understand it very well.  It isn’t easy to experience the after affects of the storm.  Things like fearing or experiencing  bankruptcy or foreclosure, wondering how you are going to keep the lights on or if you can afford to feed your children are all a part of dealing with job loss.  However, to deal with these stressors, you have to find a way to balance the negative with the positive.  Use some of the extra time you now have to do the things you have wanted to do but didn’t have time to do.  Now is the time to get in touch with who you are or who you want to be.  Complete that soul searching and find your vocation and not just a job.  Get back in shape and enjoy the natural beauty around you while working out.  Visit your local library and let your favorite author take you away to a time and place that is stress free.  Learn that new hobby or consider taking classes to update your skills or change your career entirely.  Complete those home projects that have been on your “to do” list for years.  View this time as a gift.  It’s hard to think of loosing your job as a gift, but sometimes, what we don’t ask for ends up being exactly what we need!