Do you have survivor syndrome? 17 symptoms and behaviors that need attention

Downsizing, resizing, wrong size, capsizing! What’s going on? The last week of January 2009 began with horrible news for the job market, as more than 71,400 more cuts were announced on Monday, January 26 alone. At least six companies in the manufacturing and service industries announced cost reduction initiatives that included cutting thousands of jobs.

As reported by CNN, more than 200,000 job cuts have been announced so far this year, according to company reports. Almost 2.6 million jobs were lost during 2008, the largest annual job loss since 1945.

Concerned as we are for those who were laid off, employees who survive a downsizing feel anything but relief. Most of the time, they feel anxious and betrayed.

The painful feelings caused by your downsizing – feelings of loss, fear, depression, mistrust and betrayal – are not only experienced by downsized workers. These heartbreaking emotions are also felt by employees who survived the layoffs! I experienced job elimination twice in my career and it was no fun! I also remember being by the side many other times when my friends and colleagues lost their jobs and how I felt in those dark days and in the months that followed.

Talk to anyone who survived and they might say something like this: “Just when we started to think our jobs were safe, they changed the rules about us. We didn’t know who was in charge, who we could trust, or what we were supposed to do. we were doing. The more unsettling it got, the less productive we became. ” Talk about a toxic work environment!

Many employers try to manage these powerful emotions by justifying management decisions and minimizing the challenges that lie ahead. This kind of response only fuels doubt, speculation, rumors, and cynicism rather than commitment and the drive to move on.

Many executives think that surviving employees are so relieved to still have a job that they jump into it with enthusiasm. Could not be farther from the truth! Often times, any relief employees feel is soon overwhelmed by a series of unpleasant emotions: grief, guilt, loneliness, depression, and job insecurity.

In general, the work of those who have left the company is distributed among those who remain: the survivors. Add this to the physical and mental exhaustion that already stems from a “do more with less” philosophy that is so prevalent today, because companies are better at downsizing. people of what are in the Workload – and you have an organization in crisis. You have a work environment that is driving employees, and ultimately results, in the wrong direction.

Why are the needs of survivors overlooked in the vast majority of organizations? “Because there is very little recognition that survivors have any needs,” says Harris Sussman, president of Workways, an organizational consulting firm in Cambridge, Mass. “But even if companies recognize that survivors have special needs, there is an unpleasant Catch-22 Involved: Companies downsize for monetary reasons, and programs to help the remaining employees cost money. “

That may be a good excuse, but it is a bad reason, in my opinion. Remember … who is really driving your business? People! If you don’t spend the money to salvage something from the rubble, your employees will resist any other organizational change effort you attempt. Worse still, you will never get the results that you intended to get from the restructuring in the first place. “P2P” (person-to-person connections) needs to be improved a bit!

Survivors need emotional support, extensive communication from management, clear job descriptions, and assistance in managing careers for a reduction to be successful. After all, the remaining employees are the the only ones who can change the company to survive and prosper for years to come.

If you or someone you know has any of these symptoms or exhibits any of these behaviors, seek help immediately!


  • Job insecurity
  • Fear of the unknown
  • Mistrust in management
  • Uncertain / doubtful of skills and abilities
  • Lack of loyalty
  • High stress levels
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feeling too dependent on the organization


  • Narrow minded
  • Not open to healthy risks
  • Low productivity
  • Depressed
  • Increase in absenteeism
  • Low morale
  • Loss of pride in the organization.
  • Greater resistance to change
  • Acts of sabotage

Again, it’s about “P2P” – the connections between people that create a positive work environment that engages employees and fosters productivity, or creates a negative, toxic environment that does the opposite. It all comes down to recognizing that survivors have special needs. Giving them the emotional support they deserve and communicating with them as adults is the right thing to do, for them and for the organization as a whole.

A positive workplace is synonymous with business! Only win $ 100! ®

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