how to help coworkers recently laid off

Here’s how to help coworkers recently laid off

Imagine getting an email one morning from the president or CEO of your company, informing you that despite the positive revenue results the company has been achieving, forecasts for future growth and the financial outlook of the company looks dim. As a result, they will be laying off staff in an effort to reduce expenses.

Pretty shocked, I’m sure.

What if the email went further to say the senior management team, along with other department leaders, would be reaching out to impacted individuals no later than 1 pm that day.  

Imagine sitting through those excruciating hours wondering if you or one of your colleagues would be on the chopping block.

This has become a new normal as companies look to cut back costs and prepare for the growing economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

More and more businesses have been forced to close their doors due to countrywide lockdowns and shelter in place measures. 

Related: Opportunity in crisis: Here’s how the coronavirus could lead to an increase in entrepreneurship

And while some companies have managed to pivot to a virtual office environment to keep their staff employed, many are still struggling to keep their heads above water. 

In tough economic times, companies often look to cut back expenses by reducing staff, and unfortunately, that can mean losing close co-workers or colleagues.

Layoff survivor’s guilt

This can bring about tremendous sadness, stress, and anxiety and can often lead to the onset of layoff survivor’s guilt.

Similar to the survivor’s guilt experienced after a car crash, employees are left feeling confused, sad, and a little guilty that they survived a round of layoffs.

No matter the relationship with the impacted co-worker, you feel a sense of grief, and you feel bad for them. This is heightened due to the social distancing measures currently in place, which doesn’t facilitate face-to-face interactions—making it harder to support affected colleagues. 

But there are still ways that you can reach out to provide support and encouragement. Here are five ways you can support your colleagues during a layoff

How to help coworkers recently laid off

  1. Stay connected
  2. Add them on LinkedIn
  3. Give them a recommendation
  4. Connect them to your network
  5. Don’t forget to say goodbye

Stay connected  

If it was a close friend, continue to stay connected and be there to lend a listening ear. After a layoff, many people are left questioning their self worth and competence. We tie so much of our identity and who we are into our careers, so losing a job even though it had nothing to do with your capabilities can be a devastating blow to your self-esteem.

Making your self available to provide support, if needed, may help to provide a sense of relief and validate their sense of self-worth.

Add them on LinkedIn

If you weren’t necessarily close to your co-worker, you could still reach out to provide support during this tough time. Go ahead and add them on LinkedIn, the professional networking site designed to help professionals keep connected.

Once you have added them, you can send them a note just to let them know you are thinking of them or offering support. 

Give them a LinkedIn recommendation

One of the hardest parts about losing a job is the huge task of finding a new job. The job search process isn’t easy, and it can be incredibly stressful. Added to that is the high rate of unemployment currently affecting many industries, which makes the job search landscape even more competitive. 

If your colleague reported directly to you, you could highlight their strengths and projects they completed successfully. Even if your co-worker didn’t report to you, you can still leave a recommendation highlighting the positive impact they had on the overall team and what it was like working with them.

Many recruiters and hiring managers use LinkedIn as a source to find qualified candidates. Giving your colleague a glowing review on LinkedIn is one small way you can help in their job search.

Related: Five things to consider before you quit your job

Connect former colleagues to your network 

Whhow to help coworkers recently laid off

Finding a job after a layoff can be tough. Lend a helping hand by connecting your colleagues to your network.

If you know of open positions that match their skill set, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask if they are open to receiving job recommendations.

This can go a long way to helping them get back on their feet as soon as possible. But remember to make sure they are open to receiving this sort of help. 

Say goodbye

After a layoff, many people are left feeling alone and forgotten. 

In the midst of all the confusion and uncertainty around the company outlook and job security, as well as the abrupt nature of many layoffs, it can be easy to forget to say goodbye.

But remembering to reach out to affected colleagues to let them know you are thinking about them and how much they will be missed, can go a long way in helping them recover from such a devastating blow.

It lets them know that those who worked closest to them have not forgotten them, and despite the unfortunate circumstances, their presence and value they brought to the team are both acknowledged and will be missed.

Wish them well and offer support

Careers and work-life come with many challenges. We all experience many highs and lows throughout our career, but in tough times like surviving a round of layoffs, it’s important to remember those directly affected.

Reach out to wish them well and offer support where you can. It will go a long way in helping to ease the anxiety, sadness, and grief that both you and your colleagues are feeling.

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