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Hit by layoffs? Hiring experts and counsellors share ways to manage anxiety, debt and job applications

Hit by layoffs? Hiring experts and counsellors share ways to manage anxiety, debt and job applications

Hit by layoffs? Hiring experts and counsellors share ways to manage anxiety, debt and job applications
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By Kanishka Sarkar  Jan 24, 2023 2:57:03 PM IST (Published)

Massive tech layoffs, when hiring is vastly slow paced, not only impact a person and/or their family’s financial well being but may also take a toll on their mental health, however, the idea is to just not lose hope as yet and keep their calm. Experts suggests how to plan the road ahead

If you lost your job in the latest tech rout, you must be aware that more than 200,000 techies have been hit by IT layoffs since 2022. For some firms, it didn't matter if those laid off were part of performance improvement plans (PIPs) or had recently been rewarded with promotions. Even biggies like Google and Amazon joined in the bandwagon with big job cut announcements — impacting their 'trusted place to work' images. Many others are spending anxious times and dreading checking up on official communication channels.

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Massive layoffs like these, when hiring is vastly slow-paced, impact a person and his family’s financial well-being and takes a toll on mental health. If you happened to have got the bad news or fear it might happen, here are some ways that could help you through.
How to handle layoff anxiety
Karan Jain, HROne, Founder, believes that the news of layoffs throw employees (both laid off and others) into anxiety, which can be detrimental to their performance. In such times, open communication between leadership and employees is crucial to alleviate this looming sense of doom.
Jain explains that layoffs are hard but can affect anyone – even to the best in their respective professions – and that’s why self-blame is not a good idea and employees shouldn’t let a layoff erode their confidence, especially because they will need it the most to bounce back.
To handle layoff anxiety, employees must shift their focus to the facts, he says, adding that reduced sales, hiring freeze, and lower-than-usual workloads may be signs of an oncoming layoff. In such a situation, don’t hesitate to check in with your manager.
Priyanka Tripathi, a counselling psychologist, hypnotherapist, NLP practitioner and life coach, says, “Pauses are vital in life. They give you space to reflect, to understand and allow you to work on yourself for a brighter future. It’s time to consider layoff as a pause and not a stop.”
How to manage your financial obligations
Adhil Shetty, CEO of BankBazaar.com, suggests avoiding taking on new debt, if possible. Personal or credit card loans may seem like a relatively easy way to get out of money troubles in the short term, but they would end up being a slippery slope into a debt trap. Such loans would be highly-priced, and push one in deeper trouble if not repaid in time, he warns.
He says people must try to clear existing short-term debts like consumer durable loans, BNPLs, credit card dues, etc., and continue to repay long-term ones, such as home loans, on time. "Liquidate some of your short-term, low-return investments to close your liabilities. This will give you peace of mind and help you focus on the essentials."
“Even if you have a solid emergency fund, try to reduce costs as much as possible so that your funds last longer. Revise your budget and check for opportunities to reduce expenses. Do not eliminate all discretionary expenses as that would make it difficult to stick to the new budget, but look for less expensive options as much as possible,” he suggests.
Spend time upskilling/reskilling
Swapnil Kamat, CEO of upGrad Work Better, says it's important for affected professionals to understand the market dynamics and make sound learning decisions while also efficiently utilising time.
“These could be in the form of skill-based learning or any long-format upskilling which will further enhance their existing skillset or domain expertise,” Kamat say, adding this applies to the working group as well, who are equally at the brink, to constantly engage with new-age learning resources so as to skip career redundancy and become a critical resource within an org structure.
Plan of action
Jain believes having your portfolio, resume, and LinkedIn up to date is a good idea even if your company isn’t terminating employees. Moreover, planning your response to the worst-case scenario will help you harness anxiety to your advantage. If you have been laid off, build a response plan and stick to it. Dig deep into your network for opportunities, and dedicate a few hours every day to your job search. Also, consider if now is a good time for a career change. Pick up new skills to open yourself up to new opportunities.
"Affected candidates could start applying for jobs in financially healthy companies. Talking to professional connections and asking for referrals can be effective. In the interim, they can take courses to hone their skills and improve prospects of getting hired,” says Sumit Sabharwal, CEO of TeamLease HRtech.
Sabharwal's mantra: Be candid about your layoff with next interviewees. They should find out the reason behind the layoff and the number of fellow employees who faced the same situation. "In this way, they’ll be prepared to justify their job loss, if required."
What must companies do?
Sandeep Budhiraja, Co-founder, Executive Director and Chief People Officer, BYLD Group, says it is critical for organisations letting people go, under whatever circumstances, to create experiences that are better than what employees got at the time of joining.
“This creates a great employee branding process and also does not affect how people are going out. Firstly, organisations have a moral responsibility to let people leave with their prestige, self-esteem and dignity intact, so they can find new jobs, new roles and can grow,” he says.
According to Budhiraja, firms must explain why layoffs are necessary and the timeline for when they will take effect. Great organisations find support mechanisms to be offered, like coaches, and counsellors before they are asked to leave. They need to give support in terms of severance packages, if applicable, and assistance with finding new employment opportunities.
He suggests that companies should offer outplacement services such as resume writing and interviewing workshops. Laid-off employees must be allowed a period of transition to ensure that they have time to process their emotions and plan for the future.
“Thus, it is imperative to have the plan to handle the exit of an employee. When letting go of employees, organisations need to show the same kind of rigour that they show when hiring,” he said.
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