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• February 25, 2009 | 1:54 PM MST
Survivor Anxiety and Guilt
This morning, I heard the smallest bit of good news. According to some economists, it looks like the 2008 Q4 economic numbers, which will soon be released, will be worse than even previously reported. No one expects the 2009 Q1 numbers to be anything other than bleak. There is some evidence, however, that a turnaround could be in the offing by the end of Q2 2009. It won’t be a sharp upturn, but hopefully, we will have at least bottomed out.
Many readers, who have thus far survived reductions in staff, continue to look over their shoulders, wondering whether a pink slip is still in their offing. At the same time, many of those same readers report feeling a certain amount of survivor’s guilt, i.e., a feeling of: Why has my job been spared when that of my co-worker has not?
In my experience, the best way to fight the anxiety that comes with lay-offs is to take steps to control that which you actually can control. As one of my clients explained, viewing this economic storm is a little like watching a hurricane as it approaches a major city. Residents of the city know darn well that they can’t keep the storm from making ground fall. They can, however, take necessary precautions, for example, purchasing extra food and water, boarding up windows, and generally battening down the hatches.
Taking proactive steps to address an economic disaster—building your network, enhancing your expertise, reaching out to clients—can help make the impending economic storm much less threatening.
If you have witnessed lay-offs in your organization, do not allow those reductions in staff to lessen your own motivation to excel or to cause you to question your loyalty to management. Recognize there are few managers around who take any joy in slashing jobs.
Instead of looking for people to blame, do what you can to help build morale at your office. Anything you can do to make your workplace more cohesive and productive will pay off. And don’t hesitate to reach out to the people who have lost jobs. Let them know that your personal interest in them and their futures has not evaporated in this time of downsizing.