If you have never experienced a layoff in your working life, consider yourself fortunate especially since company layoffs are rather common. You may not hear about them because of how they are executed and reported. If the company is well known or the number of people laid off is more than 50 people, the news will often report the story. A lesser-known company or lower numbers of people being laid off may go unreported and unnoticed. Either way, the result and the feelings of those laid off is the same.
If you have never experienced a layoff, know I went through it for you. During my working life, I have probably experienced more layoffs than most people. A few marketing agencies I worked for and dwindling client budgets adversely affected the account team of which I was a team member. There was also an online technology company. Not positioned well against their top-tier competitor, no one was surprised when the company announced layoffs.
It has taken me a while to think about my layoffs and how I could have managed them better. I finally learned the lesson when I did not have a layoff threatening. With the expanding talk and news of a possible recession, there is no better time for someone to plan for a layoff.
My list for how to prepare for a layoff aligns to eight dimensions of wellness Those dimensions are emotional, intellectual, physical, social, spiritual, financial, occupational and environmental. For each dimension I provide a negative outlook and a positive one that must replace it. Mental replaces the occupational dimension since the layoff makes the occupational aspect moot.
Positive outlook: Healing through vulnerability and understanding that the layoff is not your fault. In the same TED Talk, Brown expresses “vulnerability is not weakness” and “that vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage — to be vulnerable, to let ourselves be seen, to be honest.”
Negative: The negative outlook is anger or sadness, like other losses one may experience in their lives.
Positive: Replace the negative outlook with optimism for new opportunities and anticipation for positive outcomes.
Negative: Having thoughts of not being smart enough or not having done enough otherwise, the layoff would not have occurred.
Positive: Know you are smart enough, or you would not have had the position in the first place.
Negative: Experiencing physical stress in different parts of your body.
Positive: Focus on better and more thorough self-care including exercise, different eating habits, and relaxation.
Negative: The negative response in the social dimension is a loss of daily interaction with colleagues and clients.
Positive: You can expand your network by attending events and reconnect with old acquaintances.
Negative: Suffering feelings of not being good enough or feeling disconnected from your belief system.
Positive: Protection against future issues the company may experience, plus assurance and confidence that something better is in your future.
Negative: The loss of a set income based on your position, reduced income while receiving unemployment insurance payouts.
Positive: Outlook for a more fulfilling job but also more income that will align with your skills and experience.
Negative: Being a part of toxic environments can follow a laid-off employee and add to the negative responses for other dimensions of wellness like those that are mental, emotional, and physical.
Positive: Create a focus on finding or creating a new, positive, and healthier environment where you can thrive.
If I can share anything from my experience being laid-off, it is the importance of replacing negative outlooks and responses with positive ones. It will help change your outlook and prepare you for your next steps. The last thing you want to do is carry over any negativity about your previous position when interviewing for a new one.
Do not let a layoff keep you down. Mourn the loss but only for a short time. Then, change your outlook so you can change your outcome.