How to Survive a Layoff and Thrive – A Psychologist Explains

5 minutes

A layoff is a tough pill to swallow. To get over a layoff it is first important to understand how it affects an individual emotionally. Once this is done, you can definitely overcome this very unfortunate situation and thrive.

Here’s how :

Analyse the impact of the layoff on you personally

1. Does the layoff mean a loss of your identity, a designation that was close to your heart, a warm and supportive team, a dream project, colleagues that you have been interacting with for long, friends that you have made over time within the organization itself?

2. You don’t need to feel guilty. It wasn’t your poor performance that led to to your layoff.

3. In reality, you’re not a victim either. Stop blaming yourself. Your employer wasn’t biased against you. It’s just that this is how things work in the corporate world. Some people have to unfortunately go through it. Think about IBM, Citi Group, HP, Bank of America, Boeing Co., General Motors, Ford Motor Co. This is exactly what has happened to their employees.

4. Understand the difference between a layoff and being ‘fired’. Try to understand what would’ve led the organization to take this step – possible financial constraints, various departmental issues, market competition, global changes, etc. Look at the situation from the organization’s point of view, rationally.

5. Look at the flip side and consider what would have happened, in case you had survived in the organization with fewer people, possibly doing a lot more work, without your former team members around, with a lot of structural and functional changes. Try to appreciate the situation more objectively. Would you have enjoyed being there with all these variables having changed overnight? Are you sure you would have been better off if you had been retained?

6. Things like this do happen in life and are a part of this world. Not everything’s in our control. As humans we’re all vulnerable. It’s also a reality that there’s a lot of uncertainty around. Rather than focusing on ‘fate’ and using all the ‘curses’, let us see what can be done.

7. Talk to your HR personnel and collect the relevant information on layoffs. Read the necessary policy documents. Go through all the benefits available. Check if you’re eligible for any special layoff benefits. Sort out the health insurance related clauses. Make sure all the documents are in place. When leaving, collect an experience certificate, possible referrals, and say good-bye so that no bridges are burnt.

8. Assess your financial status by auditing your savings and alternative income sources. Look at commitments like EMIs, loans, and current expenses like rent, food, utilities, etc. Also assess the financial runway you have in terms of how long you can survive without a job.

Make efforts to forget the past and move on

Think of this as an opportunity to start over, something that you’ve always wanted to do. This is the time that you’ve always looked forward to – to realign your goals according to your interests and known potential. This is your time to experiment with your career. This is also the time for you to re-conceptualize your career.

Haven’t you been looking forward to a real break? After you’ve worked so hard for this long, this is your perfect break. You possibly deserved this break, for the course you wanted to do, to complete all your pending work, spend time with family and of course, travel. Enjoy.

What if you had a choice? Would you have stayed back at the organization or would you have chosen to look for something better? What’s the possibility that you would’ve chosen to leave? Isn’t it the reality that you had enough reasons to leave?

Think about all the feedback you’ve received so far, right from your childhood. You always knew you could do things better – work more efficiently, unleash your potential. You always had something within you that you never used. More than choosing what you wanted, you ended up accepting whatever came your way. This time, let’s do it differently. Go all out, make it happen. There is no guarantee that opportunities like this will present themselves ever again. Nature has its way. Go with the flow. The universe might have other plans.

During this period, act wisely, by doing the following:

1. Look for and enrol for some short-term courses

2. Pick up new hobbies or get back to old ones

3. Update yourself on new technology, concepts and trends

4. Take care of your body and mind – exercise and play, do yoga and meditation

5. Meet your near and dear ones

6. Do a reality check and check your thoughts for negativity – Are you in your own world and detached?

7. Look for drastic changes in mood

8. Monitor sleep, appetite, body weight and energy levels

9. Assess the current job market and meet with recruitment consultants and headhunters

10. Redo your LinkedIn profile and spruce up your resume

11. Send your CV to recruiters, friends, family and other acquaintances, and put it up on job portals

This article is a part of  #Fired2FiredUp Campaign by YourDOST. Visit the page for real life stories, learnings and tips from career psychologists and recruiters.

Have you experienced a layoff recently? Are you finding it difficult to cope with it? Talk to an Expert at YourDOST.

Dr. Sunny Joseph

Dr. Sunny Joseph is a Clinical Psychologist and Behavioural Neuropsychologist currently associated with Manipal Hospital, Bangalore. He received his professional training and initial work assignment at the prestigious NIMHANS. With a decade of experience working in the area of Clinical & Behavioural Neuropsychology, Mr. Sunny Joseph has collaborated with corporate organizations such as Hindustan Unilever and has also provided personal coaching and training services. To add to his credit, Mr. Sunny Joseph has contributed several research papers for journals and has also written a few chapters for academic books.