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HPMD Bullets


For many people, layoffs are a significant personal crisis, much as divorce and being fired. Though addressing the terminally ill, I have found Elisabeth Kubler-Ross' thoughts suggestive for the stages people may go through resolving significant crises. Kubler-Ross' stages with some of my observations follow:

1. Denial and Isolation. Some employees facing a layoff at first deny that it's happening to them. Others first reaction is to get out of the building and away from everyone else.

2. Anger. It's not uncommon for people to get angry at their manager or the personnel manager upon hearing the layoff news. Others may come back the next day seething.

3. Bargaining. A few employees may suggest another position or reduced salary in return for keeping their job. Others may seek to delay the effective date.

4. Depression. As the reality sinks in, many people will react to a layoff with depression and despair. This is often a period of emotional paralysis.

5. Acceptance. This final stage is the point where employees accept the separation from the company and are prepared to get on with their lives. At this point, outplacement counseling is likely to be most effective.

Awareness of these potential responses to a layoff is useful for managers and human resources professionals. This may help explain why some constructive suggestions may fall on deaf ears, or worse elicit vindictive responses. Knowing when to help is as important as what help to offer.
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