Layoff Survivors: How Employees Change After a Layoff

Businesswoman in cubicle with laptop and stacks of filesCentury Link, one of the biggest companies in Louisiana, is restructuring to the tune of 1,000 employees. Yes, it’s just a small dent to their 44K global workforce, but to the surviving employees, the change is bound to affect them — whether they admit it or not.

No One Relaxes After a Layoff

No employee, not even the star performer, relaxes after a layoff.

They’ll be on edge, waiting for the next batch of unfortunate “victims.”

You might think the hard part is over after a restructuring. But in reality, it’s just the beginning of a new chapter in your business.

Expect problems. The employees left aren’t out to create trouble for you, but each person handles change differently.

The Lost Work Spouse and Buddy

Employees who lose their “work spouse” or office buddy are bound to feel lonely for a few weeks, or even months after the layoff.

They will feel isolated, and it’s unfortunate because this is the time where they need their office friends the most. In many cases, these people will isolate themselves further by not seeking new friendships. Either they’re frozen by what if scenarios (“What if I’m next?”), or they’re afraid that the new friendship may come to an abrupt end as well.

Survivor’s Guilt

They’re relieved they weren’t part of the layoff. But they’re feeling inadequate, guilty, and undeserving of the second chance as well.

How they deal with this depends on themselves, and their manager’s ability to coach them out of it.

Opportunity Seekers

How do top performers feel after a layoff?

In a word: opportunistic. Prime positions opened up, and they want them. They will be working more hours and breaking more records in hopes of getting promoted to vacant positions.

But be wary, as this can be a double-edged sword.

When these top performers feel ignored or mistreated, such as if they don’t get promoted or fairly compensated for their additional workload, they might resign.

The Overstretched Manager

As managers and supervisors lose their colleagues, friends, and mentors, they are still required to keep a professional façade and manage their team.

Who’s looking out for them? In many cases, no one.

Yet, they’re expected to keep it together.

That’s why many managers check out in times of crises. They’ll only communicate with their team when it’s actually needed, mainly because they feel they can’t do much to ease the negative emotions of their subordinates.

Layoffs are Tough for Everyone

Layoffs are tough for those that were let go. But it’s also challenging for those left behind… Don’t ignore them.