The Emotions of Job Loss

August 29, 2019
job loss

Career counselors and mental health professionals all agree: losing a job can be as traumatic as other major losses in life. Recovery is a process that takes time.

Here are some points to support a healthier recovery:

Through the process of termination, employees typically experience a roller coaster of emotions. Whether the layoff is welcomed or unwelcomed by the employee, there are many accompanying feelings that occur, including relief, fear, frustration, grief, anger, and helplessness. As employees get used to the idea of losing their job, emotions can change quickly depending on individual circumstances. This range of emotions is normal.

Employees have different reactions to job loss, and may use free time in various ways. According to Charles Prugh, an outplacement and career consultant, many employees use a layoff to engage in personal self-exploration regarding future career choices. Some people decide after a layoff to start their own business, or to clarify what matters most to them in a future career. Others attempt to move as quickly as possible to the next position, driven by financial or professional reasons.

As with other losses, employees go through a grief process that includes denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Once people have experienced a release of anger, frustration, and fear, and are moving toward acceptance, they begin to explore different career options. This may be done through networking, informational interviewing, career fairs, and other resources

The length of time for this grief and recovery process varies from individual to individual. Support and resources are available through the Employee Assistance Program as employees weigh decisions, make new life changes, and seek new opportunities and other resources.