Avoiding Layoff Survivor’s Guilt

Today’s economic environment is having an adverse impact
on everyone including those people who remain in the
organization after others have been laid off.

Survivor’s Guilt is the term that describes the syndrome
that infects the people who escape being laid off.  After
a layoff, the survivors are supposed to feel lucky that
they survived the layoff and should feel more invigorated
to protect the company and secure their employment. 
Ironically, the opposite occurs.

The reality is that layoff survivors are often less
engaged, more absent, and less productive.

HR CONTRARIAN POINTER: Following a layoff, managers need
to engage the survivors on a work level and a social

First, managers need to seriously increase the amount of
face-time, or 1-on-1 time, with each employee as the
employee engages in his/her work.  As people leave and the
work gets redistributed, people will need help
prioritizing the added responsibilities.

Second, the company needs to become a bit more open or
transparent about statistics of the business that will
help reassure employees that another layoff is not “just
around the corner.”

Third, when faced with a threat, the traditional responses
are Freeze, Fight, or Flight.  I’m sure that if you asked
your employees, they would rather go down fighting, than
freezing like a deer in the headlights.  So, find creative
ways to engage your employees in saving money, generating
new sales, and increasing sales from existing clients.

Fourth, let people talk.  Unfortunately, many managers
think that they need to have the answer to every question. 
As such, they fail to engage employees in uncomfortable
conversations where there is no answer.  Sometimes just
asking an employee, “And how are you doing with all this?”
is all that some employees need to express what they are
feeling and to reengage in their work.

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