Study Says Surviving Layoffs Can Be Worse Than Losing Your Job

By Patrick Coffee 

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Because you guys all wear ties to work

We cover many rounds of layoffs on this blog because they’re one of the few types of tips that agencies will (reluctantly) confirm. For that reason, we were particularly interested in a survey published by The Guardian today. Its subjects were journalists, but its findings hold just as true for those who work in the agency world.

In short, those “survivors” who keep their jobs while dozens of co-workers get laid off have to deal with the anxieties of “job insecurity” as well as “grief, guilt, anger and doubt” while subsequent conversation in the office (and the blog comment threads) then turns to “who will get laid off next?” and “why did the company axe this dude but not that dude?” It’s like PTSD Lite.

Who do these old-school journalists blame when the axe falls? Those meddling kids and their digital toys. In some sense, the finality of getting fired can be better than knowing that your job will disappear as soon as the latest “ninja” shows up.

Here’s a key line: members of the old boys’ club “not only dislike change but, rather than grasping the opportunities it offers, see it in negative terms.”

They’re so anti-everything new that they endanger their own careers by inaction — and they’re “particularly upset about the hiring of new, younger people with skills they show no enthusiasm to obtain themselves.”

This sounds familiar…

The companies employing stubborn traditionalists who “refuse to adapt to the new digital reality” often respond by placing them first on the firing line and turning instead to “younger (cheaper) digital natives.”

Now we feel like The Guardian wrote this response just for us.

The study places those media survivors into four classes: Hopeful, Obliging, Fearful or Cynical. Advertising on the whole seems to employ more than its share of the latter…

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