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Dear Workforce Should I Oversee Layoffs, Even If I'm Among Those Losing a Job?

My HR/benefits position is among several being eliminated. I've been asked to stay on for several months to do the "cleanup" for the other 50 people laid off. Remaining employees worry they will get no help in the future with all their questions. How do I maintain my sanity and put on a smiling face every day?
September 7, 2011
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Related Topics: Downsizing, Dear Workforce
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Dear Uncertain:

If you feel particularly good about your immediate job prospects, don't want to deal with others' trauma or believe that the opportunity cost of waiting is too great, you may be better to leave sooner rather than later.

Arguments in favor of staying:

  • It will be good experience. You'll probably learn something, and it will probably provide a sense of personal satisfaction.

  • It may make you more marketable to a prospective employer.

  • If you do a good job, those you help out the door may be in a position to open a door for you later.

  • Your current employer may—I repeat, may--feel more obliged to provide you with some help finding a new job at the end of this.

If you do decide to take up the challenge:

  • The only way it will work is to first resolve the questions about the timing and terms of your own departure. Do this before you begin dealing with the plight of others. Otherwise, the nagging "what about me" worries will eventually consume you.

  • Once these issues have been worked out, if you agree to proceed, do so wholeheartedly--with the same commitment and professionalism you've given to the job up to this point. Smiles are preferred, but not required.

From the other side of the bridge--if I'm the one who is asking you to stay and clean up the mess--I should:

  • First address all questions about your departure up front, and provide you a reasonable period in which to make an informed personal decision.

  • Make it appropriately lucrative for you to stay, but give you ample room to say no.

  • Under no circumstances should I make an emotional appeal for you to stay by jerking the personal-loyalty string, or asking you to "take one for the team." Once you have been voted off the island, there is no more "we."

  • On the premise that neither time nor idle minds are my friends, take every step possible to ensure that the transition period is brief, and that people stay very busy (meaningfully so, but busy).

SOURCE: Bill Catlette and Richard Hadden, co-authors ofContented Cows Give Better Milk

LEARN MORE: Please read13 Myths and Facts About Downsizing.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from federal law.

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 The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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