The Emotional Impact of a Layoff

The last week ended, rather unfortunately, with a number of important people in my life being laid off from their jobs. I’ve decided to write a short piece today dealing with the emotional side of layoffs, for the person leaving, their closest family and friends, and those remaining at the office to deal with the aftermath. suggests that while many people go through the necessary motions after losing a job, including updating their resume and looking for work, most don’t take care to nurse the emotional impacts of layoffs. The stages of dealing with a layoff emotionally are similar to any other grieving process:

“The grieving process is the same as with any other loss, says Emily Hause, an assistant professor of industrial psychology at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, Calif. After the denial, anger, fear and depression, there is acceptance.”

The advice suggested by the authors? Join networks to reduce the emotional downside, and increase your chances of being hired by increasing your qualifications. presents tips on what to look for in yourself or others to indicate that psychological problems may be present, which include changes in sleeping, eating or spending habits.

Things are not easier if you’re the one still left at work.’s column talks about the grieving process we go through when co-workers leave:

“Your valued coworker is gone and that jumbled set of emotions is real. Your grieving is normal. You are also experiencing an increased level of stress relating to both the increased workload and your distrust of management.”

Leftover co-workers deal with the loss of their friend and colleagues in much the same way as those who were let go, going through the emotional stages of the grieving process. According to, communication with other colleagues, managers, and others in your field is critical to coping with the event and regaining a positive mindset. It’s also important not to turn inward:

“The tendency of employees in a post-layoff workplace is to hunker down to fly under the radar and avoid being noticed. This stymies creativity, risk taking, and forward movement. This is exactly the opposite of what your company needs from you now.”

PsychCentral suggests seven ways to cope with a layoff, including not giving up hope:

“Although it may be hard to remember, try to keep in mind that layoffs aren’t a judgment about your own abilities, experience or skills that you bring to a position…Although many people define their self-worth and value in this world by their job, it really isn’t everything and doesn’t have to be the defining feature of one’s life.”

I think that stepping back and keeping hope is, by far, the most important thing to remember. When in doubt, read The Positive Side of Unemployment and realize that there is a pot of gold somewhere. The task is to find the right rainbow for you.

2 thoughts on “The Emotional Impact of a Layoff

  1. I agree that keeping hope is the most important thing to remember. There are many ways to go about this unfortunate situation but you will never go wrong when you have hope and take the positive route.

    Thanks for this post – it did help.

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