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Overcoming the Trauma of Layoffs and Revitalizing Downsized Organizations
This world has undergone significant downsizing in the previous years. Every action has its consequences.
The consequence of all the cutbacks is the “layoff survivor sickness” which is responsible for fostering unhealthy employer-employee relationships.
Read our summary of “Healing the Wounds” and learn how to shift your perspective and rebuild the broken relationship with layoff survivors.
Who Should Read “Healing the Wounds”? and Why?
Most that talk about HR related issues are detached from emotional consideration for workers. However, that is not the case with “Healing the Wounds.”
Author and leadership consultant David M. Noer takes a refreshing stand and makes an opposite case.
In his book, he warns companies that the epidemic of downsizing is hurting the employees, and hence is destroying the business and the market. He presents what he calls “layoff survivor sickness,” a condition that gets activated in the surviving employees’ lives. He argues that these employees have undergone a traumatic experience, with long-lasting consequences.
This condition, he states, can only be cured by creating a secure connection and relationship with their employers.
Furthermore, he advises companies to create a new culture where healthy employer-employee relationships will allow workers to break codependency with their bosses.
We recommend this book to readers who work in human resources, managers, executives, present employees, or those who have survived or been through a layoff.
About David M. Noer
David M. Noer is an author, an honorary fellow at the Center for Creative Leadership and a professor of business leadership at Elon University. Additionally, he is a consultant on coaching, downsizing, and leadership development.
“Healing the Wounds Summary”
Cutting back on your employees is a worldwide epidemic.
Cutbacks have a negative impact on the people. They disturb the mental contract amongst businesses and their employees, making everybody debilitated, discouraged and irate.
In fact, even the individuals who stay at work after their colleagues are laid off frequently encounter “layoff survivor sickness,” which makes them feel abused and detached.
However, the consequences are not merely psychological; they impact the business as well. Employees end up being hesitant about taking opportunities, in this way undermining profitability and competitiveness.
This descending spiral, which influences laborers, supervisors and whole organizations, is not entirely new. Apart from other circumstances, it also results from depending on an old employee-worker relationship that existed before WWII.
While rushes for cutbacks happened in the 80s and mid-90s, the 2008 recession made cutbacks regular and transformed downsizing survivor sickness into a worldwide phenomenon.
So what can employers and employees do about this?
To recuperate and push forward, employees must become more autonomous and secure in their personal and professional capacities.
However, for that to work, employers and managers must reconsider the ideas of motivation, loyalty, and commitment.
However, why do companies use cutbacks in the first place?
The answer is intuitive. They typically step toward downsizing to reduce costs and enhance efﬁciency. However, cutbacks often accomplish the former, but not the latter.
This is the case because surviving employees and their supervisors are in an exceptionally negative emotional state. Additionally, remaining staff members feel similarly to their laid-off colleagues.
They feel that their organizations do not value their work and input. They think their bosses regarded the fired employees as mere commodities. Surviving employees attempt to numb and subdue these feelings.
Frequently, the higher a person’s level in the company is, the more he or she tries to deny such feelings. Organizations treat fired laborers and survivors differently. On the one hand, they give work counseling and other help to laid-off laborers. On the other hand, however, they anticipate that survivors will work harder in appreciation for not being ﬁred.
Hence, organizations rarely offer any help to the employees who stay at work, in spite of the fact that these survivors’ blame will not disappear without assistance.
And all of the above is just the summarized version of the problem. Read on to find out more about it.
Key Lessons from “Healing the Wounds”
1. The New Workplace
2. Persistent Depression
3. Four Steps to Recovery
The New Workplace
The employer-employee relationship change happens in four areas:
- “Assumptions about people.” Managers used to see workers as assets which had the chance of becoming more valuable as time goes by. Now, on the other hand, they observe workers as expenses they can cut to improve their business.
- “Language patterns.”
- “Time orientation.” Companies are recalculating the duration of employment, so employees now shift towards having jobs instead of careers.
- “Size orientation.”
Employers star is relying more on contract workers, instead of developing a workforce. In this way, they can cut back on employees any time they want.
Layoff survivors suffer persistent depression that haunts them a long time. The way to recovery must start with emotional release, that begins by survivors opening up and talking about how the downsizing process made them feel. Those conversations, however, are impossible in workplaces where the corporate culture discourages expressing emotions. In such cultures, survivors repress their feelings, afraid that otherwise, they would offend their managers.
However, there is nothing the right support cannot mend.
Four Steps to Recovery: “Interventions for Healthy Survival”
- Step 1: “Manage the Layoff Process”
- Step 2: “Facilitate the Necessary Grieving”
- Step 3: “Break the Codependency Chain and Empower People”
- Step 4: “Build a New Employment Relationship”
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“Healing the Wounds” QuotesMany layoffs are planned and executed by isolated and desperate executives and their number crunchers who erroneously conclude that a layoff on a Friday afternoon will lead to a productivity gain on a Monday morning. Click To Tweet Too often, organizations institute layoffs to cut costs and promote competitiveness, but afterward, they ﬁnd themselves worse off than before. Click To Tweet If employees derive their sense of identity, self-esteem, and uniqueness from pleasing the boss and remaining in an organizational system, they are in an organizationally codependent relationship. Click To Tweet People need a more personal, more secure and less organizationally dependent sense of purpose or spirit. Click To Tweet Those of us who must revitalize ourselves or our organizations must understand the true depth and staying power of survivor symptoms. Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
“Healing the Wounds” is a compellingly written book, that presents a refreshing point of view on a widely talked-about topic. If you are looking for a different angle on the subject of employment and cutbacks, then look no more – this is the book for you.