Dealing With The Stress Of Reorgs & Layoffs

SUMMARY POINTS

> Reorgs cause feelings of uncertainty, fear and being left in the dark
> Counteract these feelings with actions you can control
> Prepare & plan ahead to give yourself an extra margin of safety
> Getting laid off might be the best thing to happen to you
> Don’t overstress, it’ll all work out in the end

“Psst...Hey, are you at your desk?”

“Yeah, what’s up?"

“Heard the latest about marketing?”

“No, what did ‘cha hear?”

“Supposedly, half will be axed.”

“Not relocated?”

“Nope, that’s finance and accounting.”

“Weren’t they going to outsource that?”

“IT and customer service are being outsourced.”

“Well, what about us?”

“Maybe losing a few, the rest reporting to Jeff.”

“What?! Jeff?! Great.”

You start to wonder to yourself how much stress this will add on.

There is enough on your plate already. How are you supposed to keep your focus at work and get things done when there’s this looming change in the air?

And in a larger view, how are you supposed to keep your career on track when they keep shuffling things around?

Why Reorgs Grind Our Gears

Reorgs are really like playing the game of musical chairs. You may get the same seat back, get another seat or not have a seat at all.

It was all fun and games back then as a kid, but in today’s grown up corporate version, it’s an emotional roller coaster of stress and anxiety.

For a lot of us that go through this, there are three struggles we’ll face during these times. First, it’s the uncertainty of the future. Second, it’s the fear of losing our income. Third, it’s the feeling of being neglected and left in the dark.

Let’s go over each of these to explain why they stress us out.

Awful Uncertainty

With reorgs, nobody really knows where they’ll end up.

It could be that things don’t change at all and it’s back to the norm. Allowing you to breathe a sigh of relief and be grateful that you’ll still be getting a paycheck. But, this doesn’t happen often.

Alternatively, you and/or your team may be reshuffled into other teams or departments with new managers.

This could be a good or bad thing depending upon your current situation and your personal outlook on the situation.

Or lastly, you could be one of many that get the ax. Joining the legions of the unemployed isn’t something anyone looks forward to.

Any of these scenarios could happen. But, no one has a single clue of how things are playing out at the upper levels of the company.

Even the magic 8 ball on your desk keeps telling you things like ‘reply hazy, try again’, ‘ask again later’ or more frustratingly, ‘better not tell you now’.

It’s this uncertainty that can drive you bonkers.

Fear Of Being Unemployed

Life is hard enough with a job. Being jobless adds an incredible amount of stress, especially if you’re just getting by and practically living paycheck-to-paycheck.

Who isn’t in this day and age?

Yeah, there’s unemployment income support, but it’s only for a limited amount of time and it’s a fraction of what you used to make.

With mortgages, rent, car payments, school loans, credit card balances, etc., your personal finances get pummeled and your debt grows fast.

Beyond the financial stress, there’s the whole mental and emotional side to being categorized as being “unemployed” or in more euphemistic terms, “in between jobs."

Being unemployed is stressful both in terms of financial and mental aspects. And it’s this stress that makes us so fearful of it.

Being Left In the Dark

You know another one of the most frustrating things about reorgs?

It’s the fact that upper management doesn’t tell us jack shit until it’s all decided.

If we’re lucky, they’ll spoon feed us tidbits here and there. But, it’s only just enough information to keep us working and tied to our desks.

Common magic 8 ball, don't fail me now...shake, shake, shake.

“I can't predict an answer now, try again later”

Ugh for fucks sakes, stupid thing.

Desperate for some useful information, the rumor mill and gossip groups go into full swing. And, that’s when the real stupid bullshit gets riled up.

“They’re shifting sales under human resources.”

“Work hours are being reduced so the company doesn’t have to provide benefits.”

“Water cooler and coffee service are being cut.”

“They’re hiring high school temps for that.”

“We’re all gonna have 3 different bosses.” 

Don’t listen to any of this rumor-mill nonsense. It’s all speculation and nothing but guesses and about as useful as your magic 8 ball.

Nobody knows anything and not knowing what’s going on is what causes everyone to have feelings of angst and grief.

Prescription Strength Remedies For Reorgs

Forget about the weak over-the-counter stuff for addressing your reorg pains.

We’ve got prescription strength remedies that you can use this week and you don’t even need a note from your doctor.

Although these remedies won't change the fact that your company is going through changes, what they will do is give you some immediate short-term relief from the mental and emotional strains of everything that's going on.

Let’s go through each of the three symptoms and we’ll share our magic medicine with you.

Symptom: Awful Uncertainty
Rx: Do Happy Things You Can Control

Since no information about the pending company changes has been officially released, it’s all whispers between coworkers right now.

And with each iteration, the rumors get more outlandish and ridiculous, just like the kid’s game “telephone.”

This is what makes uncertainty the worst symptom of reorgs and/or layoffs. It’s ability to encompass so many perspectives and what-ifs, drowns you in these horrid feelings.

Luckily, we only need to do a few small things to help ease the pain of uncertainty.

And the best way to counteract uncertainty? Well, with certainty, of course!

To ease your immediate anxieties start with the following exercise using each of your senses:

Things you can SEE

For this, you’re gonna follow along with us and do this, okay? 😉

Ready?

You’re gonna look at one of your framed photos on your desk or a favorite photo in your phone.

It could be a photo of your husband/wife, your kids or maybe even your pets.

What you’re gonna do is relive that moment in your head by answering these questions while looking at the photo:

What was that moment like?
What was the weather like?
How was your mood?
What else did you do that day?

Bring yourself back to that very moment in time.

Don’t just take a fleeting glance - really look deeply at the photo for 30 seconds.

Okay, do this now and then come back here.

...

...

...

...

...

Didn’t that make you feel better? Maybe, you even cracked a smile too! 🙂

Here’s the point - know that the person or pet in the photo really loves you. As in, they want to give you hugs-n-kisses all day long.

And guess what? That’s never gonna change. No matter what kind of bullshit happens at work.

Things you can TOUCH

You have one, we have one, everybody’s got at least one.

It’s that favorite pair of lounge-around-at-home pants. It’s the old ratty pair of sweatpants or PJs you’d never wear outside the house.

But, it’s THE pair of “go-to” pants you put on when you get home.

Why? Because you know with full certainty that they’re gonna make you feel soooo good.

They feel soooo good not only because of how comfy and soft they are but also because of what they represent when you’re wearing them - pure, lazy, stress-free relaxation.

So, when you put ‘em on today when you get home, put them on slowly, one leg at a time and really feel and appreciate how *awesome* they are.

It’s amazing that something as simple as this can reset your thoughts and emotions into a more chill state of mind.

And, don’t you *ever* throw those pants away. They’ll have to be down to loose threads before you should even consider getting rid of them.

Things you can HEAR

It’s been proven that our most memorable and favorite songs get permanently burned into our memory during our teen years.

Think back to when you were in high school or maybe, even a bit earlier in junior high.

Do you remember your fav songs that always made your mix playlist?

Here are a few that, if we heard playing anywhere, we’d sing along to instantly:

“Take On Me” by A-Ha

“Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-a-lot

“Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin

“Smooth” by Santana

“Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey

Ahhh, the memories...got some of your fav songs handy right now?

Remember that one song during your teenage years that you just really connected with? Find it on your music app or online and listen to it. Like, right now.

Close your eyes and transport yourself back in time to that special era in your life. Listen to it as if you were at that younger age.

Go ahead...put on your headphones and press play. It’ll only take 2 minutes.

We’ll be waiting for you here, so no worries.

...

...

...

...

...

Do you remember those times? The carefree days of adolescence? The circle of friends, the mischievous stuff you did behind your parent’s back, your first kiss, etc.?

It sure brings back some nostalgic times, right?

See? The music is helping you feel better already!

This will never fail to uplift your mood. Whenever you listen to these songs, you know with 100% certainty that it will brighten your day.

Things you can SMELL

There’s nothing like a scent that can instantly shift our emotions. Our olfactory senses can mentally transport us to another previous world.

It’s like Grandma’s place. It smelled like musty Ben-Gay, Downy, and Spam all mixed together. Kinda gross but it does bring back some nice memories.

But, we’re not talking about olfactory scents here.

What we’re talking about is more along the lines of “now” smells. And more specifically, it’s the smell-good stuff. It could be your favorite perfume or cologne or the one your significant other wears.

Or, it could be natural scents like the tart, citrusy scent of a freshly peeled orange, the springtime blooming jasmine, the cool winter peppermint, summertime coconut or the ever-so-soft lavender.

These are all scents that you can buy today at your local CVS, Walgreens or Rite-Aid drug stores. Most of them will have a little section for “essential oils.”

During lunch today or on the way home after work, check out their inventory of essential oils and smell a few (gently waft the scent toward your nose).

Pick one that triggers your relaxation mode. They may even offer it as a roll-on mini bottle.

Then, when the pressure of pending company changes is starting to get to you, roll-on or dab a tiny bit of essential oil under your nose or wave your wrist toward your nose to get some delightful wafts of your fav perfume or cologne.

In either case, don't be a scent bomber and fumigate the office. This is only for you.

Things you can TASTE

Oh man, this is everybody’s top choice.

There’s nothing like food and drink to take your mind off of things. But, you gotta be careful with this.

When it’s not in check, excessive eating and drinking can lead to some serious health issues leading to obesity, alcoholism, etc.

In moderation, fabulous foods and delicious drinks can really bring joy into our lives. It’s instant satisfaction. Plus, you know how you’ll feel even before you eat or drink it...now, that’s certainty.

So, why not grab your favorite sandwich during lunch today? Or, make it a family event and order-in a few all-time pleasers for the gang tonight?

Chinese anyone?

Or, if you’re solo...that cool-n-crisp white wine, soft red wine or even that ice-cold micro-brew that’s been waiting for you in the fridge can provide you with all the certainty you need for the evening.

See, Touch, Hear, Smell or Taste...choose one, some or all!

By completing any of these sensory exercises, you are in control. You know how things are going to turn out for you and all of them will be positive.

And this simple fact of knowing what the results will be, however small it is, can mean the difference between making it through the day or running out of gas. 

Symptom: Fear Of Unemployment
Rx: Plan & Prepare For New Opportunities

Unemployment is like a dirty word you’re not allowed to say as an adult.

There is a stigma behind it that you have failed somehow. However, this is not true. Reorgs, layoffs and/or budget cuts happen at least two to three times in most everyone’s careers these days.

Hell, if you work for a dot-com, tech or startup, reorgs and other corporate changes are even the norm, not the exception.

First, take away the power and stigma that the word unemployment has over you. Instead, try saying that your ‘taking some personal time’.

Next, keep in mind that you have a huge support network all around you - both at home and at work. Remember, your team of coworkers is currently feeling the same things as you are.

Finding or even starting a support group within your office will help with some of that stress you and your coworkers are feeling right now.

On top of that, we also highly recommend talking about how you feel outside of the office.

Talk with your family, your friends, and even wonderful support networks like
7Cups, where you can chat with someone anonymously for free.

In addition to the aforementioned, here are four things that you can do this week to minimize your fear of unemployment. It’s all about preparation.

1. Prepare Yourself Financially

There are a few ways you can prepare yourself for that time between your last paycheck and your next new paycheck.

People will constantly tell you how important it is to have a “rainy day” savings account for those “just in case” moments.

No shit, Sherlock. You don’t say?!

Since most of us can’t seem to keep that ‘highly unrealistic in this economy’ dream alive, we do have some ways we can make some immediate changes to help the upcoming struggles.

Start by writing down all your monthly expenses and see if there are any items you can live without for a while. It doesn’t mean that you’re cutting it out permanently. It’s just a short-term cut-back.

Whether it is cutting out TV subscription package and going with just Netflix instead, lowering your cell phone bill, or canceling that gym membership that you never use, every little bit counts.

Adding up a few of these minor expenses can really make a difference.

If you’re in deep debt, call your creditors and ask them about other options in light of your situation. Most creditors will work with you, setting up a lower payment plan, or in some rare cases putting your loans on hold, such as some student loan agencies.

And definitely be sure to claim your unemployment assistance and benefits. After all, everyone, including you, has paid into it. This is the time to put your money to use. It was designed for just these occasions. 

2. Update Your Resume

You wouldn’t wear a pastel-colored padded shoulder jacket or a shiny double-breasted suit to an interview right?

Well, it’s kinda the same with your resume. Don’t leave outdated shit on there.

Yeah, it’s time that you delete the college internship and that bogus achievement award and replace it with more relevant and updated things.

It is never too early to update your resume. Even if you don’t end up needing it, having a resume that is up-to-date with your latest job description, roles, responsibilities, achievements is never a bad thing.

Not to mention, going over your skills and capabilities will give you a better understanding of yourself and some much-needed confidence boosting control.

Here’s another big benefit. Updating your resume will give you a sense of positive progress and improvement. And these feelings are great antidotes to what you’re going through now.

3. Join And Use LinkedIn

Even though resumes are still relevant, your LinkedIn profile is gaining more importance for your career pathing than ever and it’s far more important than your other social media accounts combined.

While it’s not the most popular app out there, it is the one that can help you the most.

Having a solid LinkedIn profile allows you to network without actually having to meet people and to keep in touch on a professional level with those that you have met.

With its built-in job database that matches jobs to your skill set and a plethora of courses, it’s never been more convenient to find a job, references, and referrals. 

4. Apply And Interview For Jobs

It may seem scary, but there is nothing wrong with dipping your toes in the water to see what is out there, even if nothing’s been officially announced at your company about pending changes.

In fact, this is something you definitely should do, for two big reasons:
1) Market Value - see what your skills/experience are currently worth.
2) Back-Up Job - if you get laid-off, you have a place to jump to asap.

After going over your resume and realizing those amazing skills you have, you may be surprised what you find. Who knows, this whole reorg event may lead to your next great opportunity.

Plus, you can always go to an interview to improve your interviewing skills, make connections and expand your outlook into other industries.

Symptom: Being Left In The Dark
Rx: Turn On The Lights & Find Info

It almost seems like a lack of communication is a prerequisite skill to becoming a manager. And, the higher the manager, the less they talk openly and frequently. Especially during times of a reorg.

This is a great time to take charge and take things into your own hands.

When you open up the lines of communication with your superiors, you not only get a better understanding of what it is they are going through but also they understand more of what you are facing.

Not to mention, this could totally help you become a more prominent blip on their radar.

Ask Questions

While you may not want to disturb anyone during this busy and stressful time, it is important that you have all the information you need.

Set a meeting with your manager and just go over a few things.

You can even offer to help them by scheduling a meeting for the team or writing a quick “send-all” email to ensure that everyone has some peace of mind.

Here are a few hard-hitting questions you should ask:

- What’s the current overall status of the reorg or company changes?
- What’s happening to your position and your team?
- What positions will be eliminated in the new org?
- Will there be severance packages for those let go?
- Will there be adequate training available for the new roles?
- Will there be a change in salary/wage?
- Will there be a new reporting structure?

These will all help clear some of that uncertainty and lack of information that is giving you stress during this reorg.

The Silver Lining: Stressed Spelled Backwards is Desserts

That’s right, there is a positive to stress.

Sadly, it’s not actually dessert.

You’re probably thinking to yourself we’re crazy here at Cubicle Therapy. Alas, contrary to popular belief, we’re not. We just love to believe there is a positive in everything.

So hear us out.

As we have mentioned before, there is this fabulous thing called eustress. When your body is in this stage, you actually develop the skills to combat things that would be more stressful.

Just like how you would take a flu shot to combat the flu.

Having a little stress causes you to be extra alert, prepared, and cool tempered. Helping you become like a 007 secret agent of the stress world in no time!

While it may be hard to believe at first, this isn’t even the only positive. There are actually a bunch of pleasant ups on the flip side of this hell-hole called a reorg. 

Nothing to Lose

What’s the worst that could happen?

Well, they could lay you off, but isn’t that already on the table?

This is your chance to take chances.

Have you been mulling over an edgy business move for the company or risky a suggestion, well mull no longer. This may be the move that gets you noticed and secures your position in the upcoming layoffs.

And if they do lay you off, congratulations for getting laid-off from your shitty job. 

Fresh Start

You are a creature of habit. So are the rest of us.

You grow comfortable and change scares you. It isn’t until you have a major life event come to you that you consider changing jobs.

Ask yourself at this time, are you truly happy?

If you aren’t, this is your chance to leave the company stress free and start doing what you want.

If you think about it a little bit, you may just be the luckier one if you do end up getting laid-off.

You'd be liberated and then you can find and do what makes you feel good!

Network Growth 

Going through this horrendous reorg with your co-workers will bring you and your comrades closer. Tough times build strong bonds.

This will, in turn, expand your job connections and professional network substantially.

And because you took one for the team and initiated the conversations with the manager, you end up with positive relationships with people that want to help you and see you succeed.

Who knew Kelly from payroll would go to work at that hip new clothing design company or that Dave landed a gig at a cutting-edge ad agency.

As your office contacts jump into other industries, you now have a better chance of seeing other opportunities in other industries that have always intrigued you but never had an “in” to that area.

Well, now you do. 

Chance To Up Your Skills 

One of the major aspects you can take away from being laid-off is to see who was left standing and why.

This is an opportunity to clearly see what some people have that others don’t. Perhaps it is more transferable skills or some extra certification.

Take this moment to give yourself an honest assessment of your work and how you would approach things differently next time.

Whatever it may take, you can now learn from your experience and prepare yourself if you ever encounter another reorg. 

The Bottom Line: Don’t Worry, It’ll All Work Out

Think back to all the previous tough times in your life.

Yes, it was hard. Yes, it sucked big time. However, you got through it, right? And, things kinda all fell into place.

Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes, it’s obvious. Other times you don’t even realize it until much later on and you look back on it and think to yourself, “Wow, if it wasn’t for that happening, this wouldn’t exist.”

You can influence some things in your life but you can’t control everything in life.

Stressing about company changes, reorganizations and/or layoffs won’t do anything but make you more miserable.

Do you really think that your self-induced stress will magically make the company executives have a change of heart and keep things as they are?

Hell no.

So, why are you burning your energy on them? Why not redirect that energy to something that you can benefit from?

Spin it and turn the tables. Take that stress they’re creating and use it to your advantage.

And when you do, it’ll all work itself out in the long run and you’ll become an expert at the grown-up version of musical chairs.

So, don’t worry, be happy.

VIDEO: Okaïdi & Playing For Change 2014 - "Don't Worry, Be Happy"
YOUTUBE: 
Playing For Change
LENGTH:
4:00

Summary Points:
🙂 Smile - it’s good for you
🙂 Dance like nobody’s watching
🙂 And of course, don’t worry, be happy!

Feel Better,
[Cubicle|Therapy]