Behind lay-off announcements in the headlines are thousands of pink-slipped employees, coping with their new jobless status.
Surprisingly, it’s workers who felt pride and satisfaction in their roles with their former employers who experience greater emotional well-being in the wake of job loss, finds a study by Jennifer Tosti-Kharas, a San Francisco State University professor of management.
“Just as romantic partners who break up but believe, ‘It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,’ people who were invested in their work are bolstered by good memories,” Tosti-Kharas says.
For instance, a worker who was proud to be part of a well-respected company will fare better than someone who didn’t think his role had prestige.
Studying 86 workers who lost their jobs during the economic turbulence of 2008 – most were laid-off, only four were personally fired – Tosti-Kharas doesn’t deny pink-slip pain. “Unemployment is always difficult.”
Still, she notes that when the jobless don’t blame their former employer for wronging them, it bolsters their attitude. Indeed, even when workers blame themselves for poor performance but don’t blame the company, they tend to be more optimistic in their job search.
“We would expect someone who was proud of his organization to refer to their work there and speak positively about the work,” she explains. In job interviews, workers who are bitter and blame their former company may not sound impressive.
Moreover, if the past job was valued, then someone is more likely to seek out “a position they feel is just as good or better,” she says.
Employers can help laid-off workers by encouraging them to continue positive connections with the company, perhaps by urging them to join the company’s alumni group or online groups, Tosti-Kharas says.
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