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What to Do After Surviving a Round of Layoff

The relief of surviving a round of layoffs can be immediately followed by a mix of complex emotions and uncertainty about the future. If you find yourself in this position, here’s a guide to navigating the post-layoff landscape at your workplace.

Although the dust may have settled, the unwelcome season of company-wide layoffs likely has left behind a change in team dynamics that aren’t sitting well.  If you are one of the survivors of these layoffs, you may even be reassessing your future within the company.  Before making any big decisions, connect with your leadership to see what is to come, clarify what’s expected of you should there be any changes to your role.  You may even consider getting a little more active on LinkedIn to grow your professional network, update your resume and start looking into other career opportunities, just to be proactive moving forward.  If this has happened once and the structure isn’t looking to see much change, you’ll want to be as prepared as possible to have a plan in place should they reoccur.  

What Is the Layoff Survivor Syndrome?

There are a range of emotions you, and other employees will feel after seeing some of your colleagues laid off or let go such as fear, guilt, and stress.  Those who experience what is known as Layoff Survivor Syndrome may feel down, overburdened, stressed and no longer satisfied with their job due to the angst of the situation, unknown future and pressure added by what is likely an increase in workload. 

How Do Survivors Deal with Guilt After Layoffs?

Another common occurrence following a layoff is layoff survivor guilt, experienced by those whose jobs were spared when others were let go. If this is you, it’s important to remember that your feelings are valid.  None of the situation was personal so those who have had to move on will understand that your position was simply one of those that was kept in tact.  Talking to your colleagues about how this has made them feel or a trusted member of leadership or even HR may help you process what you’re feeling.  Be sure you focus on the job at hand and take one day at a time.

How Do You Deal with Surviving Layoffs?

There will be a number of practical and emotional adjustments in the workplace following layoffs, including readjustment of assignments, processing of emotions and an evaluation of your future.  It’s okay to allow yourself to feel what you do for a while, as long as you don’t let your emotions take over.  Focus on what you can control and let the rest work itself out.  Keep your attitude in check and be sure your performance doesn’t slack because of the possible guilt you may have after seeing some of your colleagues leave.  

Give yourself some time to adjust to the new dynamic in the office and the change in your workload, but be proactive in preparing for what could happen again in the future.  Many people in this situation find themselves looking into other avenues, assessing their marketability to other more stable companies and considering quitting after layoffs have occurred.  Make time to evaluate your career goals to see if this company is where you should stay, especially if it doesn’t appear that there will be much opportunity for advancement after layoffs.  

Workers who survived a layoff of other employees who have worked hard to see the positive for themselves often use this negative situation as a catalyst to re-energize their careers altogether.  

There is life after layoffs but how it looks is often dependent on how you look at it from your own perspective.

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