Skip Nav
Budget Tips
4 Ways to Find Out How Much You Need to Save For Retirement
4 Secrets From a 28-Year-Old Retiree
Career Advice
The Best Way to Get Through the Workday Grind? Laugh More

Your Two Cents: Is Layoff Survivor Syndrome Legitimate?

It's hard to say goodbye to laid-off coworkers, especially when you're reminded of your own vulnerability as an employee. Some experts say that the emotional effects on co-workers left after a round of layoffs are similar to the stress felt by workers suddenly laid-off. Layoff survivors are often left feeling like they should be grateful for the extra work and anxiety that comes with a downsized workforce.

Layoff survivor syndrome is a term coined by organizational psychologists that describes the emotional, psychological and physical reactions of workers who made it through layoffs. Mitchell Marks, an associate professor of management at the San Francisco State University College of business, explains, "It’s exactly as when you lose a good friend or a sibling. You feel responsible in some way. That’s psychologically troubling. You’re waiting for the other shoe to drop. You feel like you can’t control your fate."

Do you think there's legitimacy to layoff survivor syndrome?


Join The Conversation
Angela123 Angela123 8 years
omg, suck it up, you still have a job for now! stress is a part of life, it's not a freaking syndrome.
linds1019 linds1019 8 years
Any "syndrome" can be "diagnosed". Life happens and certain things make people feel a certain's not a medical condition.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i'm not sure. on one hand i think that it really is something that people see/feel or whatever - since you're never sure if you're going to be next, but i think that if you are naming it something, then you're giving people an excuse to be depressed or whatever. that's not to say that i'm minimizing what is really going on, it's just that i think that sometimes we have to be more on top of ourselves so that we have more confidence
valancyjane valancyjane 8 years
I wouldn't call it a syndrome, but it's a mixed bag of emotions. Guilt, relief, anxiety, sometimes glee that you won't have to work with an annoying person anymore, then more guilt over that. My boss left (of her own accord) and we laid off someone else, so I'm getting used to a demanding new boss AND having one less person around. Not fun.
ohkristy ohkristy 8 years
After my co-worker and office-mate was let go just about a month ago, I felt awful coming to work and passing by her empty desk. Every time I feel overwhelmed and under-appreciated I remind myself I am just lucky to have that direct deposit twice a month.
skigurl skigurl 8 years
telewyo, that is so stressful! that's no way to run a business, keeping your employees in fear! they should have made a plan, laid everyone off they had to all at once, and then EXPLAINED the situation to the others, and let people know they had to or didn't have to be worried about their future positions with the company. sorry you had to go through that!
krae85 krae85 8 years
telewyo, that's awful! Like waiting to see which mouse will be fed to the snake next, ugh.
telewyo telewyo 8 years
I don't know if it's a syndrome or not but my firm went through a bunch of layoffs a couple of months ago and every Thursday for about 4-5 weeks they would lay someone off. It got to the point that those of us who were still here would start getting really stressed by about Tuesday, not sleep for two nights, bite our nails and keep our heads down on Wednesday & Thursday and finally breathe again on Friday...then start it all over again the next week. It was miserable!
krae85 krae85 8 years
I think it's legit. Everyone has their own feelings about things. I have a bad feeling, though, that layoffs will just get worse, economy will slide downhill, it's a little scary to think about. The next five years or so might not be so great, folks.
psterling psterling 8 years
If you're bummed that your co-worker got laid off its a syndrome now? Come on. We already have a name for this: sadness. It really is just that simple.
skigurl skigurl 8 years
even if there is a syndrome, it's very important, following a string of layoffs, that you not EXPRESS this syndrome. don't be the kind of guy who complains about this syndrome to their boss, or you will be the next head on the chopping block, believe you me
starangel82 starangel82 8 years
I believe there is an extra stress when your co-workers are gone, but you remain. As far as a 'syndrome', no. There are far too many syndromes out there as it is.
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
Eh I lived through it, then got laid off about a yr later...I'm pretty okay after all that.
How to Talk About Being Fired in an Interview
How to Move Beyond an Administrative Assistant Role
How to Impress My Boss
Selena Gomez's Sexiest Moment of 2016 Poll
From Our Partners
Latest Career & Finance
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds