Your Role in the Lay Off Process

The layoff process can be an uncomfortable and emotional experience.  The stomach begins to turn, heart rate goes up and palms get sweaty as you endure that long walk to human resources. 

No one ever knows exactly how they will react until they are in the situation, especially if they are caught off guard.  Regardless of whether or not you think a lay off might be in your future, thinking about it before hand may help prepare you for a better exit strategy.

Listen- Although your nerves may be trying to jump out of your skin, it is important to listen to the information being provided.  Do not let your mind immediately go into panic mode, and instead take a deep breath and try to focus on the words.  It is likely that you will receive information regarding your benefits, severance pay, and maybe even outplacement services.   All of this information is important, and you will need it as you determine your future in the coming days. 

Ask questions- Layoffs, or terminations of any kind for that matter, are uncomfortable for everyone involved.  In that moment, you feel alone and stranded.  BUT, if you prepare for a “what-if” scenario you can practice stripping those raw emotions out and deciding that there is no need to feel uncomfortable.   Instead, this is the time to get your questions answered before transitioning out of this phase of your life.  Below are a few questions I recommend:

Am I rehireable?

Can I get a letter of reference?

Who do I contact for future questions?


Express your feelings appropriately- I have unfortunately seen a variety of emotional reactions during this process, and I have found that those who come to some sense of peace before leaving tend to move on easier.  Losing your job is very emotional, and there is no reason you should suppress those emotions if it helps you to come to terms.  If you need to cry, cry.  You have worked very hard for your company and should be allowed a little time to grieve.  If you are angry, let them know you are angry, but do it in a civil manner.  Think of it as being in a psychiatrist’s office.  Express yourself by describing what you are feeling; not acting out.  The absolute last thing you want to do is walk away regretting your behavior later.  Say what you need to, but say it graciously.                

Collecting your things- People have a lot of preferences about how to collect their things.  I always encourage people to take only their keys, purse, etc., and you can either schedule a time to come back after hours or provide a list and let someone else box it up.  Personally, I think the worst part of a layoff is someone having to go back to their department and collect their things as everyone around them stares and whispers. 

If all else fails, just keep telling yourself, ‘this too shall pass.’  You will get through it and come out on the other side a stronger person. 



1 Response to “Your Role in the Lay Off Process”

  1. Arthur Warren says:

    I was layed off in the past after 14 years, and was devistated. I had to go back to school and obtain a new and different college engineering degree with a new carreer. It turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me and made me qualified for an entire new set of expertise and job requirements. recently, I was going to be layed off and I made it very clearly known to the personnel representatives that I was much more qualified than they realized. I pointed out that I was qualified for five positions they had currently advertized in the local newspaper. I was able to land one of those positions that was a lateral transfer within the same company. This would not have been possible, had I not endured the original Lay-off.

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