Study Says Layoff Anxiety is High Even Though Unemployment is Low

Even though the unemployment ratein the United States is lower than it’s been in decades, employees are experiencing a high rate of layoff anxiety. According to a new study, nearly half of employed Americans are anxious about being laid off. What’s causing this anxiety, and why should employers be concerned?

What Are Employees Worried About?

Although employees under the age of 34 are more likely to experience layoff anxiety than their older colleagues, employees of all ages may be afraid of being let go. There are several reasons for this, despite today’s strong economy.

The biggest reason is the fear of another recession. 2008 wasn’t so long ago; it’s still fresh in our minds, and many people working today may have experienced employment challenges at that time, or they may have family members who did. Indeed, the study showed that 74 percent of people who were laid off or unemployed during the Great Recession are afraid of losing their jobs again.

Office rumors and recent layoffs also account for some of the anxiety among current employees. They fear they may be next. Furthermore, losing a job is a fairly common experience: 40 percent of Americans have been laid off at least once in their lives. If it hasn’t happened to you, you probably know someone who has lost a job.

Why Layoff Anxiety Bad is for Business

Stressimpacts how your employees do their jobs, and most people already experience too much of it between work demands, relationships, parenting, and finances. It leads to irritability, fatigue, low motivation, difficulty learning and concentrating, depression, and more that is reflected at work and in their personal lives. An employee who is experiencing those things is not an employee who can best do his or her job. 

If people feel unwell, they may miss work, or their productivity will decrease while they’re on the clock. They might wonder why they should bother to go to the effort if they’re not going to be able to finish a project before they’re let go.

Unsurprisingly, this studyshowed a negative impact on the mental health of those who feel insecure about their jobs. Of course, if they fear a layoff, they may also divert their attention to finding another job. It pays to note that about half of employees don’t feel prepared for a layoff, which, of course, makes the whole idea even more stressful. This isn’t healthy for your employees or your company.

Do Your Employees Have Layoff Anxiety?

They might, particularly if you’ve recently gone through a wave of layoffs. So what can you do? 

  • Pay attention to any rumors that might be circulating about layoffs. 
  • Be honest with your employees. Transparency builds trust, and when your employees trust you to give them fair warning about a layoff, they know they don’t have to worry about it unless they hear something from you.
  • If you’re planning a layoff, be upfront. You may or may not be required by law to warn your employees about impending layoffs, but this article by SHRMpoints out that employees can often see it coming, anyway, and suggests giving them enough warning so they can prepare for their next step.
  • Do what you can to decrease stress in the workplace. Reduced anxiety is good for everyone, and a wellness program that includes stress reduction will benefit your company whether or not layoff anxiety is a concern.
  • Know what your employees are saying about you. This includes checking online reviews about what it’s like to work for you, where your employees may indicate their layoff anxiety.

If you haven’t been monitoring these reviews, we can help. Contact usto learn more about brand monitoring and keep track of what’s being said about your company online.