Overwhelmed but employed after a layoff

Q: I work for a company that went through a dramatic downsizing late last year. I was retained and moved to an office over 90 minutes from my house. I am drained from working extra hours plus my commute has tripled. No one really wants to hear me complain and many take the attitude that I should feel fortunate to have a job. I don’t feel fortunate. I am overwhelmed, crabby and tired. What does someone do in this situation?

A: Often times, employees who survive a layoff can suffer from what some call “Survivor Syndrome.” The feelings can range from guilt to anger and usually some anxiety. Remaining employees often find that they must pick up the work of those who are no longer employed by the company.

It would be helpful for you (and others) to understand if this is the only planned layoff. The thought of another downsizing somewhere in the near future can certainly increase angst as well as negatively impact trust, loyalty and morale. Employees can become fixated on it and analyze every action by management. Employees may look for signs of unusual behavior. Are there more closed door meetings then normal? Does Mr. Smith avoid employees now? Do managers no longer eat in the cafeteria but now have more “working meetings” at lunch time?

Sometimes employers feel that post-layoff, the tough part is over. In reality, there is more difficult work to do. Communicating frequently and candidly with remaining employees is critical. Managers need to be accessible with doors open, rather than hiding in offices. Your company may have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that could be a helpful resource.
Would your company permit a telecommuting work schedule so that you don’t have to commit so many miles? Is there another office that may be closer to your home? Could some work can be offloaded to others?
While I don’t know all the specifics of your situation (i.e., your profession, industry, etc.), I would suggest giving the new situation three-six months. If you don’t see improvements in your situation, it may be time to consider other opportunities.
by Pattie Hunt Sinacole

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