This is for Employees who were Just Laid Off from their Roles- Part 1


If you are reading this, you might have been told your services are no longer needed in the organization and as such a decision was made to let you go. Quite often than not, this is not something you expected. As you received the letter, there were perhaps many thoughts running through your mind. Most were probably about “why”, “when” and “how”. You need answers but the answer is always a simple financial reason given by the organization. For some, you might have received your separation package and for others you were told you would receive it later. If you have a family, you are wondering if you should let them know about this or not. You are figuring out where you went wrong and why you were selected. You are blaming yourself and trying to remain strong at the same time. You feel embittered about the organization and wonder if all the years and months of sacrifice were worth it. You are wondering if what you are experiencing is a dream.

First, wake up – it’s not a dream. It is your current reality but not that of your future. The following steps may guide you through and help you cope during this period.

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  • Live in the moment

Allow yourself to grieve if you feel like it. Whatever grieving approach works for you is fine at this point. If you feel like crying, do so. It’s not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of pain and that is what you are feeling depending on how much you valued your job and the impact it will have on you. For some, it may take a day. For others, it may take a week and for others, several weeks and even months. However, though I encourage people to allow themselves to face their grief alone in the early period, it is always advisable to have a strong support system that will be around.  If you are reading this to support a friend or family member going through something similar, do not query or scorn them and blame them for the situation. Listen to their concern. They do not necessarily need a pep talk sometimes; they just need you to listen and give them a shoulder to lean on. You must also provide food and ensure that the person is in good health during the process. Do not let them go a day without a meal or avoid taking a medication they have to take.  

However, do not allow grief take the space of opportunities that may come their way and miss out on opportunities like job interviews and major events and programs that could help them during this process etc. Try and engage them with fun activities, and also talk them through other options they may need to consider. You may also try to engage them to take a break for a month or two and figure out what they would like to do as part of their next steps.

For some people, grief becomes a means of embarking on suicide when they begin to question their self-worth and what the future holds for them. Hence, I encourage family and friends serving as the social support system to not leave people going through a job loss by themselves at most times.

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  • Assess the situation

First, understand that being laid off does not mean you are incompetent or underperforming. Layoffs occur for several reasons. Sometimes even in the best economic climate, employers lay off workers. Layoffs are different from firing an employee. Oftentimes, there is no job for laid-off employees after a restructuring program. Also, sometimes, the department or unit is no longer in line with the company’s strategic plans and the skills of the employees may not necessarily be transferrable to another department; hence the need to let the employees go. 

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  • Assess your skills and the next steps

You need to ask yourself what skills you have now, how relevant they are in recent times, and how fast things are changing in relation to your industry. Will your age impact a skill’s change? Are you willing to start all over or you intend to find a new job? All these questions are required as you prepare to take your next line of action.

These questions are best answered by you and not others. You can take the opinion of others but the ultimate decision lies with you.

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  • Be ready to face criticism

I wish I could promise you that people would be sympathetic with you. Some would. However, quite a number will want to know the “why”, the “what” and the “how”, which you may not intend to answer. Sometimes, it will feel like you have said the same thing over and over again. A lot of “ignorant” people assume once you are laid off, it means you are incompetent or had an ethical issue. Even some employers think the same way. You can’t explain yourself to everyone. You owe no one but yourself and your immediate family some explanation on your next steps depending on the impact the situation will have on them.

End of part 1. The next article on this will answer what not to do during this period. (Click to read more

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