Supporting survivors

2009

I came across a fascinating article this morning on the plight of the workplace survivor. This is a much-maligned group - because, at the end of the day, they are still employed when so many other are not.

But instead of just expecting "survivors" to get on with things as normal, we need to realize that many of these people came harrowingly close to losing their jobs, something that throws up a whole set of psychological ramifications.

Depending on where you live, the fear of losing one's job can be lightning fast or torturously slow. For example, in the US, you might find yourself unemployed or having dodged a bullet in the course of a single hour one morning. In Europe, you may learn that a number of employees in your office will be let go in another month, leaving you to bask in your worry.

In both cases, the fall-out is the same for those who are left behind. It's hard to concentrate on work when people you've known for years are suddenly made redundant. How do you stay focused and remain productive? While some may feel that these folks have an ethical obligation to suck it up - and I can see that point to some degree – in reality, it is simply unrealistic.

Despite what HR might tell you, we colleagues are friends and forge personal relationships; after all, we dine together, discuss our families together, and share our lives with each other. It's hard to turn that off when employers decide to let a few go.

So let's not forget people who get left behind. At the very least, they need a helping hand to rebuild morale and team spirit. Just pretending that everything's back to normal is only going to push the company into a further funk.

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