6:32 am October 29, 2009, by Henry Unger
Is the emotional toll from job cuts worse on those who get laid off or those who survive?
New research says, perhaps surprisingly, that survivors can suffer just as much, if not more, than colleagues who get laid off, Business Week reports.
Researchers embedded themselves at Boeing from 1996 to 2006, a tumultuous decade during which the company laid off tens of thousands, Business Week says. The results of the study will appear next year in a Yale University Press book called “Turbulence: Boeing and the State of American Workers and Managers.”
“How much better off the laid-off were was stunning and shocking to us,” says Sarah Moore, a University of Puget Sound industrial psychology professor who is one of the book’s four authors. “So much of the literature talks about how dreadful unemployment is.”
But the researchers discovered that the people who had been laid off often were happier than those left behind, Business Week reports. Many had new jobs, even if they didn’t always pay as well.
Over and over, Moore says, average depression scores were nearly twice as great for those who stayed with Boeing vs. those who left. The laid-off were less likely to binge drink, often slept better, and had fewer chronic health problems.
Human resources specialist Frank Zemek was the researchers’ main contact. He recalled “the survivor’s guilt of the people who were left, who were waiting and not knowing if the hatchet was going to fall on them. They experienced the worst stress,” Business Week reports.
What do you think of the results? Plausible? Remember, the economy is a lot worse now than when the study period ended in 2006.
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