How To Help Your Employees Overcome Survivor Guilt After A Layoff

GettyThere’s an unfortunately pervasive myth that the employees who survive a layoff will be grateful that they still have a job, and thus work harder and be more productive. But that’s dangerously wrong because many employees who survive a layoff will experience varying forms of survivor guilt.Typically associated with the feelings of guilt that people…

How To Help Your Employees Overcome Survivor Guilt After A Layoff

GettyThere’s an unfortunately pervasive myth that the employees who survive a layoff will be grateful that they still have a job, and thus work harder and be more productive. But that’s dangerously wrong because many employees who survive a layoff will experience varying forms of survivor guilt.Typically associated with the feelings of guilt that people have after surviving a life-threatening event (e.g., surviving a car crash in which others didn’t survive), survivor guilt is also felt after layoffs. It’s not uncommon for the employees who survive a layoff (while their friends did not) to wonder ‘why did I make it, but they didn’t?’ or ‘how am I going to face my friend knowing that they’re in a precarious financial situation while I’m still employed?’ And even when layoff survivors aren’t experiencing true survivor guilt, they’re still unlikely to feel great. One of my studies, called Don’t Expect Layoff Survivors To Be Grateful, discovered that 74% of employees who kept their job amidst a corporate layoff say their own productivity has declined since the layoff. And 69% say the quality of their company’s product or service has declined since the layoffs.In fact, every measure we analyzed in this study suffered a significant decline following a layoff.  One of the most surprising parts of the study was the extent to which productivity suffered because of the guilt and stress following a layoff. We had a hunch that morale would suffer, but the damage to productivity was just as significant. It’s also surprising how few executives pay attention to this issue. Layoffs won’t deliver real cost savings if the layoff process is mismanaged. Offering laid-off employees severance packages and outplacement assistance is wonderful, but it misses arguably the most important group of employees; the layoff survivors. Leaders have to keep the surviving employees engaged and produ
Read More From Publisher