CEO Corner: Dealing with Layoffs

Layoffs are awful. The emotional, financial and even social implications of a layoff have far reaching effects. Having gone through it multiple times, here are a few tips to get you thorough this topsy-turvy time in your life.

When dealing with a layoff you have to first deal with the emotional stress that comes along with being laid off. Most people will go through a range of emotions, which are very similar to the stages of grief:

  • Shock

  • Denial

  • Anger

  • Depression

  • Acceptance

Don’t be afraid to vent your feelings to friends and family, venting is healthy. Bottling your feelings up can have negative health consequences. The best advice that I can give is to work toward acceptance. Focus on what you do well and look for opportunities where you can apply your strengths.

Picking Yourself Up

Don’t get caught up in anger & blame whether it’s your former employer or the economy. If you feel emotionally overwhelmed by your situation be sure to find out what mental health services your former employer provides in addition to your severance & vacation pay and COBRA. Be sure to apply for Unemployment Insurance ASAP.

After sorting out what if anything, you are due from your former employer list out the priorities, such as:

  • Monthly rent/mortgage

  • Water

  • Electricity

  • Phone bill

  • School expenses for yourself and/or your children

  • Curbing your expenditures (i.e. Off-brand vodka instead of Grey Goose)

Credit and Debt

During the current time you must still pay the household bills and try to get out of debt. You must prioritize your expenses and pay them in order of importance. Rob Peter to pay Paul if you have to. Some bills can be paid late, but others must be paid on time to avoid foreclosure and eviction. If you have one, you can use your 401k to fill in the gaps until your situation stabilizes.

Finding Support

Networking with friends, family and coworkers, along with going to job fairs and industry events are all part of the support structure you can build to help you move forward. You can join brainstorming groups for finding work on linkedin.com or build relationships with recruiters to help you find work.

Staying Motivated

Establish a firm daily routine to eat up some of the unused time that you will have on your hands. This routine could be anything, such as:

  • Going to the gym or track to clear your head

  • Cleaning the house

  • Low cost outings that provide a change of scenery (i.e. going to a café to send out resumes,reading in the park)

  • Going back to school – a low cost option is auditing classes at a discount

The most important part of staying motivated is to remain optimistic, shed those “what if” thoughts or “maybe I should have” worries and remain positive. Keep taking wise risks and step out of your comfort zone. Learn and grow by trying something new. Try to think outside the box and think about what other jobs can you do? Keep yourself up to date on developments in your profession and other fields related to yours. It could improve your chances during the interview process. Last but not least, volunteer your time, you never know what jobs could come from it.

A Shot of Reality

With the current employment atmosphere, you might have to consider accepting a lower paying job or a part-time position for the short term. Long term solutions could include working closely with headhunters to find a higher paying job and relocating. This could take some time so be prepared for the long haul.

Family Life

The stress of not finding work and the loss of income can lead to damaged inter-family relationships that can take years to mend. Talk to your children about how things will change and be realistic about expenditures. Don’t build up expectations about what might change in the future. Focus on the changes that need to happen now, and how the family can make the best of the situation. Some families must make hard choices, such as:

  • Selling their homes

  • Switching schools and cancelling vacations

  • Borrowing money from relatives or friends

The positive take away from this is that families can stay home together and spend more time together. Instead of pricey nights out at restaurants you can take your family to the park for a picnic, fishing or hiking.

As previously stated, layoffs are awful but with a plan and lots of support they are ultimately survivable. Never be too prideful to ask for help and always opt for the positive.

Best of luck and Godspeed.

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