Still Standing: Eight Strategies to Help Layoff Survivors Rebound

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Menlo Park, Calif.
Many professionals have felt the shock of layoffs during these difficult times — including those who kept their jobs. According to administrative staffing firm OfficeTeam, employees who survive corporate downsizing often must manage heavier workloads and stay motivated while worrying that their jobs could be eliminated next.

“It’s natural for people to have mixed feelings about keeping their jobs when coworkers have been let go,” said Robert Hosking, OfficeTeam executive director. “Layoff survivors often experience guilt about being the ones who stay while also working in an environment marked by uncertainty.”

According to Hosking, professionals who are spared from layoffs should not pretend it’s business as usual.

“This is a time to work closely with your manager to ensure your workload reflects company priorities,” he said. “Also, try to stay positive. This can be challenging, as losing good people inevitably affects morale, but the more you can do to lift the collective spirit, the better off you will be.”

OfficeTeam offers these tips for rebounding after company layoffs:

  • Make yourself indispensable. Focus your efforts on projects that help boost your firm’s bottom line. Take courses to learn skills that allow you to contribute in new ways.
  • Build visibility. In uncertain times, it’s important to be noticed for the right reasons. Volunteer for projects that no one wants to tackle or that fall outside your job description. Also provide periodic reports updating your supervisor on your achievements.
  • Adapt to change. Managers appreciate employees who can roll with the punches and maintain productivity when faced with adversity. Demonstrate your ability to stay positive, motivated and focused on doing good work.
  • Conduct an audit. Now is the time to be nimble. Evaluate current processes and offer suggestions for cutting costs or saving your company time or resources.
  • Avoid the rumor mill. While increased water cooler chatter is inevitable after layoffs, avoid contributing to the gossip. Also, don’t believe everything you hear. If you have questions about your company’s direction, ask your manager but understand he or she may not have all the answers.
  • Be generous with praise. After downsizing, employees may begin to doubt their abilities and question their own future with the company. If you are a manager, you may not be in a position to make promises of job security, but you can give direct reports positive feedback on their performance in challenging times.
  • Reach out. Offer assistance to those who have experienced a job loss by introducing them to your professional network and helping them with their job search.
  • Look out for yourself. Layoff survivors often experience increased workloads, which can lead to burnout. Talk to your manager about setting priorities, delegating projects or bringing in temporary professionals.

Hosking noted that workers need to be aware of the realities of their organizations.

“Those who think their job may be in jeopardy should focus on reactivating their professional networks, taking stock of their skills and accomplishments and putting together a strong resume,” he said.

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