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I was talking to a couple of folks in my network who have been severely affected due to COVID-19: one got separated and the other’s new job offer was revoked. We discussed at length and while I knew I may not be able to help them instantly, my idea was to make them feel as much psychologically safe as possible. The basic idea was to make them understand that it is perfectly normal to feel chaotic & unsettled in such a situation. But that left me with a question, who could help them and thousands of others who are facing the same/similar issues posed by the new COVID virus?
The fact of the matter is that due to the significant novelty of the COVID-19, nobody really knows what to do. And if somebody claims that they exactly know how to navigate through this crisis, they are either lying or are unaware of the severity of the ongoing Crisis. Businesses & schools are closed, severe economic uncertainty is knocking the door, and the pandemic is raging worldwide; during all this, we can’t avoid negative news coming from all directions – a pandemic and/or a recession and/or a job loss and/or an unwanted family change, etc. Whenever I open LinkedIn these days one of the common topics in my news feed is people getting laid off or job offers being revoked and the anxiety about job loss is looming very large. While I have not faced it, I can imagine how difficult these times can be and hence my sincere effort to help those in need.
First, we need to understand why losing a job (being laid off or a revoked job offer) has a very bad impact on most individuals?
In the Indian scenario where there are no government-sponsored Furlough schemes, layoffs/revoked job offers are even more horrifying. Why do I say so?
- After being laid off it is very difficult to support ourselves and our families unless we land up in another job in the next 2-3 months
- We end up losing some valued meanings & relationships that were directly associated with work
- An unwanted change is forced upon us
- Hiring freezes, isolation from support networks, and the burden of additional caring responsibilities throw additional challenges
However in spite of the challenges that I mentioned above, one doesn’t need to worry as much as they might be worrying.
Did you know that in a research conducted by Sally Maitlis – Professor of Organizational Behaviour and Leadership at the University of Oxford – it has been found that most people who are forced out of career do manage to create meaningful futures and even feel more fulfilled than they did before? Such a situation can also provide the time and freedom to begin a process of positive change and growth. We will need to understand and accept that we may not have control over our circumstances, but we do have control over our minds. Hence, we should all be employing mental skills and practices to get us through this trying time.
So here are a few suggestions for all who are going through these difficult times:
There is a big difference between being anxious and being able to see that we are experiencing anxiousness. Mindfulness practice allows us to have space from our cognition and emotion so we can see things as they are.
Sharing a few links from YouTube which I have personally found helpful.
Eat and Sleep Well
Self-care, during times of high-stress, is crucial. It may sound simple and obvious, but, when we’re in survival mode, many of us don’t take good enough care of ourselves. Regularity – going to bed to sleep and waking up at the same time every day – will keep your circadian rhythms in check. Eat colorfully. Dark and leafy vegetables (sorry, candies and chocolate don’t count) are an efficient way to feed the energy needs of your immune system.
An amazing video by Sadhguru for students (after all, we all are students) would be good, to begin with à https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GM0lU5Dq7eA&t=12s
Take this time to connect with others. Tell them how valuable they are to you. Send messages of praise to your coworkers. Tell your family how much you love them. Make a list of people you want to call, to thank them for making a difference in your life. And don’t only broadcast your concerns. Be curious about how others are doing — and truly listen. Do it today.
Experiment and integrate
Help out a friend; develop a former hobby; attend a talk; agree to an interim role. As you continue to reflect on your experiences of these new activities, eventually they will open new worlds for you. Don’t chase perfection. Do the best you can and learn as fast as you possibly can.
While I know that it may not be easy to practice the points I have mentioned above, this may be an unexpected chance to rethink what one wants and who they are and start building a path towards a job more enlivening than the one they lost. And by reflecting on their situation and taking action to see what it reveals, one could possibly construct a narrative of their career and themselves that provides a springboard for their next steps.
I will be happy to help those in need in whatever way I can. Do not hesitate to write to me if there is anything I can do to help you.
Hang in there – you are not alone!!
Few articles on HBR portal that are free now and are must read:
-By Pawan Pathak [Assistant Manager – Europe HR PMO and M&A PMI Partner, Quest Global]