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Last week the organization I work for announced they would laying off 200+ positions (which is 6% of the workforce).

Some employees have already received lay off notices while others haven't heard anything. I have spoken with my managers and they haven't heard anything as well.

This has left some uncertainty and low morale. It has also created some rumors on what will happen next.

How can I best help my coworkers and myself alleviate this worry?

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    Maybe by getting a new job. If the management is terrible and the customers won't use the product even if provided for free; you cannot save a shipping ship by standing by and looking. – Phil Mar 3 at 21:29
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    @Phil a shipping ship :) – gerrit Mar 4 at 9:55
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Speaking broadly, the professional behavior is to:

  • not repeat rumors
  • not create rumors
  • by default assume the agreements are still valid, proceed as planned
  • ask management for clarification, e.g. is X still the agreement? when unclear
  • check your contract for exit conditions to know the worse case scenario
  • in time of uncertainty increase rate of savings temporarily
  • try to use good judgement when talking to management. Asking "am I next" might tip the scale not in your favor
  • update your resume, as your current workplace doesn't bring you joy. You have right to find something better in due time
  • increase rate of creating paper trail, shifting communication into emails and memos
  • tell your subordinates to act professionally
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    Maybe a point you might want to add additionally to creating paper trail: "Document your work/daily duties, organize all work-relevant documents and clean-up (if applicable) your laptop/pc in case you need to hand them over/train someone taking your position " – iLuvLogix Mar 3 at 13:23
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    @iLuvLogix that describes extra wrinkle on top of "professional behavior" in hostile environment (for me). One is not obligated to think of the company's future – aaaaa says reinstate Monica Mar 3 at 17:20
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    @aaaaasaysreinstateMonica Even if you don't want to help out the company, you might want to make things easier for your co-workers, ensure your work doesn't go to waste, or protect your reputation as a professional for the sake of your future employment prospects. – user3153372 Mar 4 at 7:42
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    Basically the table of content of a "Workplace Survival Handbook". Should be teached everywhere, awesome anwser. – Berthim Mar 4 at 14:38
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Helping co-workers:

  1. Offer reference.
  2. Write them a LinkedIn recommendation
  3. Help proofread their resumes
  4. Get them out of the rut and into the job search right away (depending on closeness)
  5. Inform those at risk of rumours so that they can prepare.

Alleviate Worry:

  1. Update resume and apply for other jobs just to see where your market value might be. I periodically do LinkedIn easy apply to see who calls me back. I was technically a temp for a couple months and with a potential recession bearing down, I was concerned about my ability to jump. A couple callbacks and I am less concerned.
  2. Determine whether the ship is sinking. Are these layoffs just lightening an otherwise serviceable boat caught in a storm or is there a hole in the bottom?
  3. Create a layoff plan. What happens if you are chopped tomorrow? What expenses do you trim? What jobs do you target? Do you move?
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  • 3 is a good point - some emergency savings so that you can still pay the bills if you miss one or two pay-check will remove a lot of anxiety. – Robin Bennett Mar 3 at 12:24
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    "Inform those at risk of rumours so that they can prepare." As long as they are just rumours I personally would hesitate to inform people apparently involved. If the rumour turns out to be just that - a rumour, then those informed as well as their superiors can hold the misinformation againts you.. – iLuvLogix Mar 3 at 13:26
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    I LOVE this answer. What goes around comes around. A spirit of generosity and helpfulness can make a nasty situation better. But, watch out for rumors, they're often complete baloney. – O. Jones Mar 4 at 1:46
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I will add this to the already great answers: horde cash. Cut spending, put off large purchases, save like crazy. You may want to reduce your social calendar some, with the exception being those contacts that can help you find a new job. If you are paying off debt, or investing a large portion of your income you may want to push pause for a time until things settle down.

Once the layoffs are done, you can resume the current financial goal you are working on, and resume your social calendar.

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  • This suggestion only adds fear and stress to an otherwise already stressful time. And hoarding cash now is likely too late to be useful. Sure, the OP shouldn't buy anything expensive until they know their fate, but there's a difference between a rational choice and fear mongering. – computercarguy Mar 3 at 17:41
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    @computercarguy Having a large savings account adds fear? Huh. – Pete B. Mar 3 at 17:42
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    Trying to do it as a knee jerk reaction adds fear. Long term planning doesn't. – computercarguy Mar 3 at 17:43
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Actually try getting a new job. It is way better to negotiate for one while you still have the previous. Even if the new employer also knows the rumors (probably they do), you at least are going to pretend to be the one who is too good to stay in the sinking company, not the one who is too bad to be kept.

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I'd echo what others have said in that you should basically try to keep a positive attitude:

  • Don't speculate on things like the future of the company
  • Try to act in a positive manner when others are discussing the negative sides of the layoffs

The reality is that all the suggestions won't matter here as 200 of your colleagues are losing their jobs in an uncertain time. There really is very little positive to say about that but I do admire your attitude.

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