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Mental Health in time of Layoffs: Do's and Don'ts for companies and employees

You’ve now been hearing this for weeks on end: Tech-based firms on a layoff spree from Google to Amazon, Twitter to Byju’s, employees are being let go in thousands across sectors. Layoffs in the US alone have crossed 120,000 with fears of a “social contagion”. However, news and data on the contrary is also available, with healthcare in the US for instance, seeing the healthiest increase at 53,000 jobs this season.

In times of uncertainty, the greatest victim is mental health - of employees who are at the receiving end of uncertainty around their present work situation, and of employees within organisations (largely HR Teams) given the task to lay off this workforce.

weGrow’s International Consultant, Beatriz Grande, talks about what can be done to prioritise mental health for all those involved, with an eye on the mid- and long-term future where market contracts and potential recession must make way for a health labour force.

Prioritising Mental Health, a COMPANY to-do list:

Employer Branding - a long term outlook:

Branding of your own company, good candidate experience will increase the success of your company/brand. Out of 200 candidates, 1 will get the job and 199 will talk about how good you treated them or at least will not talk about how bad it was to go through the process.

Candidate-friendly approach: Those hypothetical 199 that will get rejected will benefit from a good candidate experience to help them in continuing with their job search and will likely get back to your company if they see another opportunity.

Clear and Speedy Process: A fast and clear hiring process will increase the probability of hiring good talent, because they are also the ones that will withdraw their application, if they do not have a good experience.

Bad news: Will always be heartbreaking and the way they are informed can really make a difference on the candidate’s mental health. Recognize their effort and take the time to talk to the candidate while and after you are giving the news.

There is no right way to lay-off: As an employer, prepare yourself before the interview / situation where the bad news will be given. Review OKR’s, study the candidate’s performance, write down deficiencies, and be clear about why. Give constructive feedback. When it’s not about the candidate but about the company’s situation, give the employee a recommendation letter, a linkedin review or anything else that will aid their search whilst they cope with the shock of the situation. This will help the candidate in moving forward and find the motivation to start a new job search in the future.

Be transparent with them, if information is available beforehand, and its for HR teams to walk the tightrope between being transparent and creating panic.

A close relationship with the employees is crucial. Some employees need more time than others in going. When you know this, you will support the necessities of every person, and they will feel more comfortable in such tough situations. Maybe even offer external counseling

Don’t forget the ones who remain. One of the most important things in a lay off crisis situation is to give support to the remaining employees and help them cope with the situation, and the (professional) loss of great colleagues and friends. Talk them through organisation re-structure, empathise if they’re shaken or in the job market themselves given the uncertainty, and re-assure them of their position to keep the company working.

Prioritising Mental Health, for those AFFECTED by layoffs:

If you have been laid off, it is good to know your rights:

Legal: Was it a rightful dismissal? It is not the first time I have heard, I got laid off as soon as I mentioned I was pregnant. What does the paper say? Can it be proved? Is it a legal reason?

Compensation: Is there any economical compensation you can get for the time that you have worked? Or is the employer willing to give you compensation for some time after the bad news?

Time-off: Depending on the personality, some people like or need to take some time off after being laid off. If you are one of those, write it in your CV honestly “taken time off for recovering after a layoff” and when the recruiters ask you about it, talk openly about how you felt and the situation and emphasize you are now ready and recharged and therefore you are searching again.

Reflection: Layoffs can also be times for reflection, career changes, acquire new skills… embrace it and train the mind. It will only help you in coming forward.

When you decide to start with your job search.. Remember! Looking for a job is your job. Invest time, create a schedule, organize yourself and divide time between searching for new opportunities, writing personalized applications, networking and interviewing. Every bit counts!



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