Layoff News Deals Blow to Employee Well-Being as Coping Behaviors Increase
Survey reveals a quarter of all employees report periods of anxiety, low energy, and sleep disruptions, while 23% of employees at companies that recently laid off employees are snapping more at family and co-workers
TEMECULA, Calif., Dec. 15, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – Layoff news stories in recent months are elevating anxiety levels, driving employees to seek new jobs, and increasing negative coping behaviors like binge drinking and snapping at family and co-workers.
A recent survey by employee listening leader Perceptyx also revealed the groups experiencing the highest anxiety as a result of layoffs news, including:
- Men (67%) vs. women (56%)
- Parents of young kids (72%) vs. no minor children at home (53%)
- Young employees under 35 (69%) vs. employees over 45 (54%)
- Tech employees (84%) vs. retail and service employees (55%)
- Remote and hybrid employees (66%) vs. on-site employees (59%)
All employees are reporting a new onset of negative coping behaviors, whether they have experienced layoffs at their own company or have just heard about it at another company. One out of every four employees report periods of anxiety, low energy, and sleep disruptions, and one in 10 say they have increased drinking or drug use and are exercising less as a result of layoff news. More than 12% said they are more short-tempered and are snapping more at family or co-workers, a number which doubles (to 23%) for those directly or indirectly impacted by layoffs.
“About two-thirds of employees are walking around today with a lot of anxiety, and that’s connected to a number of negative behaviors,” said Emily Killham, Director of Research & Insights at Perceptyx. “Organizations can’t control economic conditions, but they can strive to get continuous feedback, understand the roots of employees’ worries, and take action to calm these widespread anxieties.”
Clear and authentic communication may be the key to easing the negative outcomes of layoff anxiety. Employees become more worried by rumors of possible job cuts than they do with official communications about actual layoffs. In workplaces where there were rumors of layoffs, 90 percent admit to being worried, 8 points higher than those who received official layoff communications. Employees who are prone to anxiety and depression could be most at risk. Those who describe themselves as more anxious or depressed than most people are 15% more likely to have some layoff anxiety than their peers.
“Without official communication, employees will share unofficial rumors. In the case of bad news, such as job losses, these rumors raise the worry level and subsequent negative outcomes significantly,” said Killham. “The most successful organizations communicate openly and regularly about the health of the business. Although at times these are sensitive issues, your employees are more likely to remain productive and healthy members of your team if they have correct information and aren’t letting their anxiety fill in the gaps.”
Job loss jitters send more employees to the job boards
Taking action to reduce anxiety levels isn’t just the right thing to do for employees’ well-being, it affects workplace outcomes and retention as well. Seven in 10 employees will ramp up their job search in the next 60 days after just hearing layoff rumors – the same as those at companies directly impacted by layoffs.
Employees who are worried are 50% more likely to say they don’t expect to be with their company 12 months from now. There are also indications that those who have been “quiet quitting” recently will put in even less discretionary effort if they are worried about layoffs. Those with high levels of anxiety are twice as likely as those with no anxiety to say they will reduce extra work and avoid tasks not in their job descriptions.
“While in past years we saw people hunker down and hold their jobs close when layoffs occurred, that’s not the case today. Employees who are worried are now more likely to jump ship proactively – and many don’t see the point in putting in extra effort if the job cuts are unrelated to performance,” said Killham.