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  • Peg Hunt

I Didn’t Get Laid Off--Relief is Just the First Feeling


Layoffs are hard for everyone in an impacted organization, especially those who got laid off. An overlooked group who may also struggle, are those who remain employed. Surviving a layoff can leave many awash in mixed emotions and make it very hard to focus when it may feel like there is even more scrutiny on work performance. For those who remain employed, they may worry about the “next” round of layoffs, managing a new workload and guilt. They may also feel additional pressure to perform and “imposter syndrome” may get triggered.


If your company has just gone through a layoff and you find yourself struggling, we suggest taking a few steps to better connect with your own feelings, gather more information and data, and tap into your resilience to regain your focus and feel more in control.

  1. Awareness. Most likely you will experience mixed feelings from relief to guilt to anger--take time to notice all your feelings. Consider making a list. Acknowledge the feelings and make space for all that comes up without judging yourself. The goal is to learn to notice feelings, understand that they come and go and that they don’t define you. As you practice this, you will decrease your discomfort with your feelings and lessen the need to suppress them which frees up energy to cope with the changes coming your way.

  2. Information. Make sure you are separating fact from fiction—what stories are you telling yourself? Are they true? Are they helpful? Remind yourself that you kept your job for a reason—you have critical skills that are needed. Collect information and data that might allow you to see the situation more clearly. Talk to your manager about work responsibilities—what has changed since the layoffs? Ask about company strategy. If work is being added, you could discuss how new work can be balanced with your existing workload. What can be dropped or delayed? Discuss workload by remaining curious and asking open-ended questions. You may also consider exploring new opportunities that may be created during this challenging time. What skills can you build or expand? What new responsibilities are available?

  3. Resilience. Remind yourself what you have done in the past to get through difficult times and how you may have come out better for it. Remind yourself of your strengths (or what are your superpowers). Something else to try is called defensive pessimism—where you rehearse your response to a worst-case scenario, thereby creating a sense of control amid uncertainty* Also remember, you are more than the work that you do, make sure you continue to take time to invest in important relationships, cultivate your health and your outside interests. This can support a more complete view of your life beyond just work.

Company lay-offs can be stressful and overwhelming but when you build awareness of your feelings and take proactive steps you may be able to keep your focus, ease your concerns and be prepared for whatever happens. Working with a coach can help you through this stressful time. If you or someone you know could benefit from coaching during layoff uncertainty (or other of life’s uncertainties), please contact me at info@peghuntcoaching.com.


© Peg Hunt, MS & Anne Garing, PhD

*Wilding, Melody (2022), How to deal with layoff anxiety. Harvard Business Review


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