Survivor Syndrome

I’ve been reading more and more lately about survivor syndrome. Per dictionary.com, survivor syndrome is “a characteristic group of symptoms, including recurrent images of death, depression, persistent anxiety, and emotional numbness, occurring in survivors of disaster.” However, rather than a syndrome occuring in survivors of disaster, layoff survivor syndrome is occuring in those ‘left behind’ in companies after they have downsized or had layoffs.

Characterized by such symptoms as a lack of loyalty, mistrust of management, low self esteem, fear of the unknown, and high stress levels, survivor syndrome can manifest as low productivity, increased absenteeism, lack of motivation, low morale, and even acts of sabotage.

Commen sense, right?

Yet many companies, even global ones, continue on as if nothing has happened, ignoring the effects of layoffs, or even the threat of layoffs, on current, or ‘saved’, employees. Employee communications, human resources, and, perhaps most importantly, upper management should focus on open, honest communication to foster transparency and rebuilt trust with employees. Develop a survivor communication plan, one that is heartfelt, and you just may reap the benefits.

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