Sign in
Post a Job

8 tips to avoid identity paralysis from job loss

Search Remotely Avoid Identity Paralysis from Job Loss (1)

Avoiding identity paralysis is the purpose of this article. Identity paralysis, as discussed in Harvard Business Review (HBR) is a condition that can occur when one experiences a catastrophe (often a job loss or dissolution of marriage) and they no longer feel attached to a person or a role that gave their life meaning.

Another article you might like:

10 Tips to Avoid the Remote work firing line

6.1 million voluntary and 1.8 million involuntary separations

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported jobs data for March 2023 showing 9.6 million job vacancies,  6.1 million voluntary separations. Within this smaller pool, there were 1.8 million who were laid off involuntarily or fired.  We all know that psychological impacts of decisions related to job separations vary. If you want to skip to the 8 tips for avoiding identity paralysis when experiencing a job loss, read the last paragraph.

Why are we writing it now? We are hoping that none of our readers are within the subset of the working population who have involuntarily received pink slips; if you happen to be within this group,  we offer these suggestions.

Another article you might like:

Tips to recession proof your remote job

Maybe you feel has though you have a recession proof remote job or career? Cool. If you haven’t been laid off as you are part of the Top Notch Talent Crew, you should still read this article. Often situations happen beyond our control. It can be too late, after a job-related catastrophe happens, that one begins to reflect upon life and think about the missed chances to approach life differently.

For instance, during the heaviest societal pressures to practice social distancing and adhere to governmental mandates to shelter in place,  many individuals began to understand the importance of health. Seeking to attain the highest quality of life possible and the achievement of the proper work-life balance no longer were the lofty goals of spiritual gurus and aspirants.

And yet, some are still arriving late to the party.  Waiting until disaster strikes isn’t always the best strategy, however. Even yet, there are others who haven’t yet taken a look at how they are living their lives because  an unfortunate life changing event has not yet befallen. When misfortunate occurs, they are often shocked to discover that there is a severe imbalance between their personal and professional worlds. Oftentimes, people operate on autopilot and fail to see the signs that something is wrong.

Greater negativity associated with involuntary and individualized job loss

If you aren’t careful, you may run into a situation where you believe everything is going along smoothly, and then a catastrophe forces you to recognize that one part of your life is being neglected. At this time, you may even feel that have lost not only your job, but your entire identity.

Another article you might like:

More remote work options during a recession

For instance, if an employee decides upon his own accord to leave his job, negative psychological impacts may be minimal, if any at all. On the other hand, when  a separation from the company occurs involuntarily; the  psychological damage is considerable. When one delves deeper, we can find even more distinctions.

An article in the Journal of Sociology,  indicates that the psychological impact of  involuntary job loss that resulted from a slow economy and poor business conditions are more detrimental to the psyche of the displaced employee more so than if the worker was let go because of poor performance. Job loss due to recessionary economy leading to poor business outlook isn’t new. Particularly in America.

Macroeconomic trends that lead to massive job losses

For perspective on what is happening in these days, economists paint a picture of these macroeconomic trends (in the US) that have traditionally led to massive job losses (1980s, 1990s, and 2007-2009):

  • technological change
  • foreign trade
  • offshoring
  • immigration
  • sub-contracting
  • tectonic shifts from manufacturing to services
  • poor firm management
  • weakened labor unions

Another article you might like:

Remote job security tips 2023: Remote Jobs to Remote Seek and Jobs to Keep

Poor prospects for individualized layoffs versus group layoffs

There is research to show that former employees who are laid off due to poor economic outlook and have been separated from their former employer along with large numbers of other similarly let go employees have better prospects for their future than those who were let go because they were:

  • less productive than their colleagues
  • less motivated than their peers
  • expressed lower levels of commitment to the company
  • demonstrated lover levels of ability
  • experienced physical or mental health issues
  • socially inept

Challenges faced by employees who were let go individually

In addition to this insightful information, research has revealed that when a worker is involuntary removed from his position in comparison to one who voluntarily separates or is laid off as part of a corporate massive layoff effort, he faces a plethora of challenges:

  • suffering of substantial earnings losses (Brand, 2004; Davis and von Wachter 2012, Stevens, 2014) averaging about 33% immediate decrease and up to 15% earnings loss six years after dismissal
  • facing the potential to lose about 20% of lifetime earnings over a 20 year period
  • occupying part time positions with little hope of obtaining  same salary when employed fulltime previously (Farber, 2005)
  • filling jobs, once fully employed, that are of lower quality, less autonomy, with fewer employee benefits, and less authority (Brand 2004, 2006)
  • experiencing lower job security and stability (von Wachter 2010)
  • searching for a new job at a time when they have lower negotiating abilities (due to unemployed status)
  • screening potential employers and job offers at a heightened time of vulnerability thereby increasing the likelihood that the potential opportunity may not have all of the features advertised (Newman 1988)

Psychological impact of job loss

These challenges can be very detrimental to the psyche of the employee impacted by his employer’s decision to lay him off. When a person is laid off from his job, he experiences these psychological changes according to the research (House 1987):

  • increased levels of anxiety
  • insecurity
  • shame
  • grief and a sense of loss
  • increased symptoms of depression
  • loss of self acceptance, self esteem

8 tips to avoid identity paralysis from job loss

From the sociological and psychological research, we can see that one of the best ways to lower one’s risk of experiencing identity paralysis is to try your best not to get laid off.  And if you are laid off, try to communicate it in a way as to show that you were not signaled out, rather what happened to you happened to many of your colleagues. Other ways are to:

  • think of the lay off in past tense, with your future prospects bright
  • embrace your past experience with your former company as a lift off pointing toward a successful future
  • refrain from repressing uncomfortable emotions (anger, sorrow, unhappiness, guilt, shame)
  • prepare a vision board and refer to it frequently
  • visualize yourself in your dream job, happy and prosperous
  • refrain from isolating yourself and encircle yourself with a positive support network
  • develop new skills, abilities, hobbies and interests that will increase your value, or
  • take this time to make a 180 degree turn toward the career goal that you have previously denied yourself

You cannot copy content of this page