Layoffs have become almost a daily occurrence in today’s economic climate, and the resulting impact on workers’ mental health and emotional well-being cannot be overstated. The American Psychological Association warns that downsizing can lead to elevated stress, anxiety, and a decrease in self-esteem due to the stigma of being out of work and losing one’s daily routine and identity. Many white-collar professionals earning $100k or more are living paycheck to paycheck, as reported by Bloomberg.
It’s not only laid-off workers who stand to suffer in a layoff economy, however. Even before any cuts have been announced, the possibility and fear of being made redundant can also have a bearing on mental health and productivity. Writing for Harvard Business Review, executive coach and author Melody Wilding explains that job insecurity can erode motivation and lead to mental-health issues such as anxiety and depression.
Beyond the immediate effects of layoffs on mental health, research shows that these conditions can linger for years to come. Recurring waves of layoffs can normalize the practice and lead to a deterioration of organizational culture and employee engagement, productivity, and physical and mental health.
So, what can employers and employees do to protect themselves in the event of a layoff? Employers should attempt to communicate to employees that they are valued and that the layoffs are necessary, in order to maintain good relations with current and former employees. Employees should do their research, familiarize themselves with the value they bring to the organization, and be prepared to negotiate for severance pay and other benefits. They should also take proactive steps to protect their health insurance, should they face layoffs. Finally, they should try to be proactive and helpful at work, so they are not on the top of the list when it comes to cuts.
By taking these steps, employers and employees can work together to ensure that the effects of layoffs on their mental and emotional health are kept to a minimum.
0. “Layoffs Are Harming The Mental Health Of Workers, Making Them Feel Vulnerable And Disposable” Forbes, 7 Feb. 2023, https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackkelly/2023/02/07/layoffs-are-harming-the-mental-health-of-workers-making-them-feel-vulnerable-and-disposable/
1. “The toll of layoff anxiety” BBC, 3 Feb. 2023, https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20230203-stress-anxiety-global-layoffs
2. “What to do if you're facing layoffs at work: 3 questions, answered by an expert” WVXU, 6 Feb. 2023, https://www.wvxu.org/2023-02-06/what-to-do-if-youre-facing-layoffs-at-work-3-questions-answered-by-an-expert