How to Cope with Layoff Survivor Guilt

When people around you are laid off, it’s normal to experience layoff survivor guilt. Don’t bottle it up or let it overwhelm you. Instead, follow these simple coping strategies to manage your feelings and prepare yourself for possible future rounds of layoffs. Here’s what to do.

Calmly Make a Plan

Panic is a common reaction when layoffs start. But it serves no purpose and can make it tough to concentrate on what lies ahead. Calm your nerves by making two separate plans. Think of them as emergency preparedness. You may never have to use either one, but having them in place lets you know that you are ready to face the future.

First, figure out what you would do if you were laid off. Assess your skills and start looking for other jobs, both in and outside of your field, where you would be a good fit. Look for ways to cut your household expenses and determine where you would get health insurance.

Also, make a plan for surviving all the layoffs. Which departments are experiencing cuts? Will you need to take over someone else’s job in addition to your current workload? Start building any skills you might need after the reshuffling.

Normalize Your Survivor Guilt

Well-meaning people will likely tell you how lucky you are to have survived the layoffs. But keeping your job when others lose theirs can leave you feeling depressed, anxious, and even disengaged. You’re going through a grieving process, having lost both your colleagues and your sense of workplace stability. You may have questions about why you were spared. You might even feel unworthy of keeping your job. Normalize these feelings and take the time you need to work through them.

Focus on Your Work, Not Your Company

Don’t let what’s happening at the office affect your self-esteem. Find meaning and purpose in the work itself. Focus on making the best of your own work-related habits. This puts you in control of the things you actually have control over, while eliminating your company’s ability to determine how you feel.

Practice Stress Management

Self-care is key to managing layoff survivor guilt. Leave work at work and focus on yourself during your off hours. Indulge in your favorite hobbies. Turn off the news. Exercise and eat right. Take time to focus on all the good things in your life. These practices will help you manage your feelings and make it easier to cope with all the changes ahead.

Let It Out

Keeping your feelings to yourself only makes them grow stronger. Surround yourself with trusted loved ones, and talk out your feelings as they bubble up. If you’re feeling particularly distressed, speak with a mental health professional. And avoid office gossip. Things are turbulent enough. You don’t need to layer on additional drama.

Ready for a new job?

If you’re ready for your next role, start searching for a new job with SURESTAFF today! We can help you find a light industrial position in Illinois, Indiana, or Wisconsin.