So, You Think There May Be Layoffs…

Recent financial and economic trends have resulted in companies across several industries announcing job reductions.  These actions can lead to stress and feelings of being out of control.  So, what should you do if there are rumors of layoffs in your company or department?  Start taking control by focusing on three areas – your emotional, professional, and financial wellbeing.

  1. Emotional Health – be realistic without catastrophizing.

Catastrophizing means fixating on the worst possible outcomes and treats happening, even when it is not likely.  We want to acknowledge that unpleasant things happen, and people will lose their job, but we don’t want to amplify those feelings with worry and anxiety.

There are emotional impacts whether you are one of the employees laid off or not.  If let go, you need support from family, friends, and/or professionals to deal with the natural feelings of loss and grief.  They help you manage the emotions associated with the loss of income, status, daily structure, and/or self-esteem.

Even if your area was not affected, you might also need help with emotions that arise.  It is natural to have “survivors guilt”, to worry if colleagues are being treated fairly, and worry that you will be asked to be more productive with less resources.

Recognize the typical feelings associated with job reductions and don’t be afraid to seek help to maintain positive emotional health.

  1. Professional Health – be ready to accelerate you job search.

While professional readiness gets the most attention of the three areas historically, it is worth repeating important steps to take so you can turbo-charge a job search if laid off.

  • Resume – update your resume. If it has been a while since you have written a resume, go online to get examples of modern formats.
  • Contacts – download your internal list of contacts. It can be frustrating to forget the proper phone numbers and emails of colleagues.
  • LinkedIn – update your LinkedIn profile, paying particular attention to the About, Experience, Education, and Skills sections. Get people to write recommendations.  Finally, include a current photo.
  • Networking – start your networking by creating job aspiration statements. Learn more by accessing the tools section of my website (LINK).
  1. Financial Health – be prepared to weather the storm.

The loss of income can have devastating impacts on your financial health, including increased debt, foreclosure, loss of assets, or bankruptcy.  In my human resources experience, many poor outcomes could have been reduced or eliminated if actions were taken sooner…so don’t delay.

Start by adding to your emergency fund if you have one, or creating one if you don’t.  Most financial advisors recommend saving between three to six months of expenses.  If you can’t afford to save money, then review your monthly budget and aggressively cut non-essential spending.

Next, review the benefits offered by your organization.  What access do they provide to discounts, free consultations, wellness benefits, etc.?

Finally, if you are laid off, review your separation package carefully.  How can you continue your health care coverage, and at what price?  Do you get access to job assistance services?  Do you get salary continuation for a number of weeks or months?

Salary Continuation Tip

If you are lucky enough to get salary continuation, be smart about spending the money.  The tip is to divide your salary by the number of payments you will receive and pay yourself a deescalating percentage while saving the rest.  Example:  imagine you get 3 months of salary continuation, and you make $60,000 per year.  You would divide the money as follows:

  • Month one – live off of $5,000, save nothing (use 100% of salary).
  • Month two – live off of $3,350, save $1,650 (use 2/3 of salary).
  • Month three – live off $1,650, save $3,350 (use 1/3 of salary).

Using this method creates an emergency fund.  Living on less also motivates you to begin job hunting.

Bottom Line

Working in an environment where job losses might become a reality can be unnerving and leave you feeling anxious.  Take positive actions to build your emotional, professional, and financial health.

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