One of the most awkward situations in a work place happens when someone’s position is eliminated or a layoff is announced and those impacted are still working. Everyone knows the person will soon be leaving yet they are still there so you start to ask yourself some questions about your own fate. It’s like a death. People don’t know what to do. Yet, the person who died is still there at work.
Coworkers wonder, What do I do? Should I go see them? What will I say? Will that help? Will it only make them hurt more if I say something? So, most often, no one says anything, and that’s not good.
I remember when I first experienced this situation. A senior leader I worked with, Mary Ann, was relieved of her responsibility but was remaining with the organization for a couple of weeks. We weren’t close friends, but we had worked together for years. I was young, and it was awkward. I didn’t know what to do or what I would say to her, so I said nothing. Inside, I knew I shouldn’t be silent, but I thought, What should I say to her? So, I stayed away.
Then years later, it happened to me. My position was eliminated, and I remained with the organization for the week following the announcement. I was surprised at what happened: Some people that had I had worked closely with, didn’t say anything and that hurt. What was helpful to me was that many people stopped by to say farewell, some left a card. At that time, it didn’t matter what they said to me. In fact, today, I don’t know that I could tell you what anyone said. However, I was thankful for them, because in a time in life when I was hurting from my position being eliminated, they came by to say something. That was encouraging and helpful to me.
Scripture reminds us that we have a responsibility to comfort others. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
If it happens in your organization, take the time to stop by and say something to those impacted. Don’t be hung up with what you say, it can be as simple as “I enjoyed working with you” or “you’re in my prayers.” Just take the time to be present when they need you, let them know you care about them.
Dale Kreienkamp is the author of How Long, O Lord, How Long? Devotions for the Unemployed and Those Who Love Them. He is a Human Resources executive and consultant who has experienced a personal journey of unemployment twice when both positions were eliminated in organizational restructuring. These personal experiences created a desire within him to help others impacted by unemployment through inspirational devotions. Dale is also an active volunteer at his home church and leader in his local community.