Article 43

 

Dealing with Layoff

Monday, March 26, 2018

Corporate Grief

image: youre fired

When the Workplace Breaks Your Heart

By Beth Killough
The Circle Experience
March 22, 2018

When I transitioned from my private practice as a therapist to leadership consulting in the corporate sector, I figured the psychic heaviness of my role would lift some. I knew that peoples work lives were ridden with relationship conflicts, extreme stress, boredom, and career confusion. They showed up in my therapy office with work complaints that often mirrored the struggles in their personal lives. We take ourselves everywhere we go, after all. Yet, I assumed the wounds at work didn’t cut as deep and that hearts and lives weren’t shattered the way they too often are at home. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Regardless of industry or job title, workplace grief is an epidemic. There is a veil of secrecy and silence around the ways that corporate practices abuse and neglect their talent in much of the same ways harassment has been swept under the rug. The machine of corporate change never sleeps and with it comes innovation, development, and growth. It can be a tremendous source of creativity and a needed palette cleanser when cultures are outdated. Departments reorganize, positions disappear or are redefined, massive layoffs, and radical leadership transitions. There’s really nothing wrong with it at first glance. For far too long, we have underestimated the impact these changes have on individuals and groups when we do literally nothing to support people through change. We seem to do a better job fostering homeless dogs and helping them to move through an adoption process.

When I discovered this was “a thing,” I became incessantly curious just how far-reaching the problem really was. So I started to ask the difficult questions, the ones that people don’t want to ask in the workplace. I found countless examples of confusion, FEAR, devastation as people crawled through change and loss in their jobs with absolutely no support offered. To best illustrate, we share with you here, a story offered to us by a client who generously offers her experience so we can see more vividly the plight of today’s professional and can hopefully reconnect with our humanity and make some simple but impactful changes.

One Friday in May 2008, I walked into the corporate job Id held for a year, and dropped by the bathroom before going to my desk. Inside was a young woman weeping, hands covering her face, her tears hitting her white blouse. It was disturbing, but I said nothing to her. I had no idea how to respond to someone sobbing at work, so I ignored her, assuming it was a private affair and would be rude of me to intrude. I walked around her to the stall, washed my hands as she sniffled and blew her nose behind me, and walked past her as I left. On the way to my desk, I passed several others who were crying. “What in gods name could be going on?” I wondered. Crying? In the open at work?

My boss’ boss had scheduled a last-minute MEETING with me on this Friday morning. I was 29 at the time, this was my first job in a huge corporation, and I didn’t know what that meant - I didn’t even worry about what it could mean. Now I know. LAYOFFS.

About 25% of our division was being laid off. I didn’t cry after my meeting, I SHOOK. I tried explaining my projects to the people who were to take them over, and my boss’s boss came over and told me to close my laptop. I needed to STOP WORKING IMMEDIATELY. The others would figure out my projects. I would have 5 weeks to try to FIND ANOTHER JOB INTERNALLY - jobs that didn’t exist - and I would have to stay home in the meantime. Don’t come into the office, they said.

Work was supposed to be family. A section on the yearly employee happiness survey was all about whether you could bring your full self to work, and experience psychological safety, although they didn’t phrase it that way. Our full selves were expected to be happy, and maybe a little quirky or passionate about hobbies. The definition of full selves didn’t include grief.

My best friend worked on the same floor as I had. SHE WAS NOT BEING LET GO. She continued to work, after comforting me for a while as I cried in her cubicle. At some point, she had her regular meetings to go to, and she went. People who were retained were expected to go back to work immediately, stiff upper lip, and work hard to save the ship from sinking in the 2008 recession. The departure of 25% of their “family” wasn’t discussed. If 25% of your actual family suddenly stopped being your family, wouldn’t you want to process it? Understand why? Grieve it?

There’s no space for that in the corporate world. Maybe you can’t bring your full self, or be treated like a full human being, at corporate work. This place, where you spend half your waking hours, bypasses grief like its a dirty secret. Keep your head down, and plow on. Drink your bafflement and tears and shock and anger away at one of the many booze stations in the office, or after work with some remaining coworkers, and at home. Don’t speak to those who have been let go. Give them space. even though they need support, and you need support. DON’T GET TOO CLOSE or you could catch what they got. There but for the grace of god go you.

I got my job back. They’d made a mistake in the layoff algorithm, they told me. But my team got re-organized, just one in countless re-organizations I’d be part of. Minor and major ones. One later team that truly did feel like a family at the head of it, the most inspiring leader I’ve experienced as our manager - was blown apart in one re-org. The managers were all replaced with new managers, the roles were all distributed or eliminated, and anyone who had been part of this thriving and vibrant team left quickly, except for me. I did what management on high told me. I gritted my teeth, careful not to publicly lament how fucked up it seemed for my highly effective team to be upended. Not express my anger. And not express how stricken with shock and sorrow I felt to have my work family moved and shuffled like chess pieces.

I recently moved to a new team, voluntarily, and heard from my old co-workers that it was just in time. They’d just completed the seventh re-org of my old team in seven months. I went back to their part of the office, and recognized only 3 out of 20-odd people. It was silent, and people looked grim, as if bracing for, or recovering from, a shock. They said that early in the re-orgs, a manager had emailed out a PowerPoint presentation on how to deal with change. They were supposed to read it, and move on. The somewhat threatening message explicitly told to us throughout all the re-orgs was, “If you don’t like change, you don’t belong here.” My translation: do not grow bonds here, and do not mourn, and don’t come to us with complaints or that growing seed of resentment in your belly. Suck it all up and move on.

Layoffs and forced shuffling of employees are hard on human beings. We are social mammals, after all. If the intention of the company is to have happy employees, and to foster the sense of psychological safety that makes a productive, collaborative, and healthy workplace, we should all treat each other like human beings. Capable of emotion. Driven by connection. We need a honest dialog after upheaval. We need a place to cry that’s not isolated in a bathroom.

So how can we do better? How can we attend to the human beings who are suffering and help them along? How can we embrace change but offer sources of stability so people can cope?

The answers are easier than we might think:

· Acknowledge the loss. People need to know that the pain they are feeling is real and normal. With all change (positive or negative) comes elements of grief. The worst thing we can do is pretend people arent affected. Offer people a voice, a place to talk about their feelings. Be sure to listen without trying to solve the problem or offer advice. Just listen.

· Rally around. It turns out that we can face just about anything if we don’t have to FACE IT ALONE. We are often scared to talk about the feelings associated with grief and loss, so we avoid those who are in pain. What they need most is kinship and community. Provide opportunities for people to come together for honest conversation. We need each other.

· Support uncertainty. We don’t always have answers but it’s essential to be transparent with the information we can provide and to let people know where we are in the process of stabilizing. Look for elements of stability and routine and actively use them as a group moves through change. Let people know they can ask questions and offer compassion for what its like to sit with those questions that cannot be answered. Humans struggle and flail in wide open space.

· Practice patience. During times of stress or pain, we often move slower and are less efficient. Expect this and plan for it. Let people know that it’s okay for them to take more time for self-care. We need to adopt a gentler, more humane approach to change. Rushing back into productivity only prolongs peoples emotional process. It’s counter-intuitive. Slowing down and making more space for feelings actually allows us to move through them more quickly and thoroughly.

· Relationship first. Take the time to truly get to know the people you work with and to actively build and shape the relationships. During times of stability, it makes work so much more rewarding. During times of change, those relationships are an invaluable resource. When we are connected in a genuine way, we are way more likely to help each other when change needs to happen. It isn’t that change itself is negative. On the contrary, it’s a necessary and beautiful thing to see a company, a team, or an individual evolve. And, its extraordinary when we can move through those changes and stay committed to the core values of our humanity.

· Take signs and symptoms seriously. Massive change and loss impacts our brain chemistry. So does stress. From a preventative perspective, leadership can consider that adequate support for big transitions can make a huge difference in a person or a group struggling with issues like depression or stress-related illness. This is a major healthcare issue and the costs for medical treatment outweigh the costs for building positive support systems. We can start to paying attention to signs and symptoms and walk toward conversations and solutions rather than ignoring or denying the realities around us.

It’s possible to make more human-centered choices in the workplace. Like this individuals story tells, people who work together can bond deeply and teams can become a source of community. When we consider re-organizing teams and layoffs, there’s a new conversation needed here and its one about cultural and social impact. It considers capitalistic concerns such as efficiency and profit/loss ratios but it takes seriously the relational needs of people. This conversation puts heart and humanity first.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 03/26/18 •
Section Dealing with Layoff
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Thursday, January 25, 2018

Preying On The Job Seeker 16

Watch out for stuff like this.  It never stops.

What I (should have) LEARNED FROM LETTING MY GUARD DOWN and CONTACTING one of these people, is my resume was pushed all over town by someone claiming to be my agent.

It may seem good at first - more exposure means more possibilities of landing a job - but it’s not.

One guy called and begged to stop bothering him - they’re not hiring.

In cases like this I don’t think the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

If if were, I wouldn’t still be looking for work.


Dear Elvis

My name is Shreya and i represent Genesys Infotech ( https://goo.gl/deleted1 ).

I saw your profile online and felt that you might be interested in a few jobs that I am helping my Direct Client fill. All the positions full time, in Gaithersburg, MD.

You can learn more about the company and the job by clicking the job title above or visiting our website ( https://goo.gl/deleted2 ).

- Systems Administrator
- Java Developer
- IT Sales Manager
- Implementation Lead

Please apply online at ( https://goo.gl/deleted3 ). The client needs all submissions with specific information. I will call you as soon as I get your online application form. I will share the client name with you, and will only submit your resume to the client, after we have spoken and I have your approval to submit your profile. This will expedite the application process and save us all time.

I realize that you might not be looking for a change at this time, and I apologize if this message was intrusive. However, if you do know anyone who might be looking, please feel free to forward this message to them. ( https://goo.gl/deleted4 ), We offer a $1000 bonus for anybody you refer who is selected for the job.

I Also hope you will accept this connection request so that I can continue to stay in touch with you on a professional level.

Thank you for taking the time to read my email. I hope to speak to you soon.

I will also send you a LinkedIn connection invite shortly so that we can continue to stay in touch professionally.

Regards

More Preying on the job seeker articles:

[1] - [2] - [3] - [4] - [5] - [6] - [7] - [8] - [9] - [10] - [11] - [12] - [13] - [14] - [15]

Posted by Elvis on 01/25/18 •
Section Dealing with Layoff • Section Job Hunt
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Monday, January 01, 2018

Personality and Unemployment

image: wumaoin in depressing job

Long-Term Unemployment Changes Personality Traits

Mental Health Daily
February 25, 2015

In the United States, there are an estimated 18 million people that are unemployed. Much of this is due to economic changes that have occurred within the past decade. In the year 1996, there were an estimated 750,000 households living on less than $2 per day (prior to receiving government benefits). As of the year 2011, this figure had doubled to a whopping 1.5 million households, as a result of many people getting laid off or being unable to find work.

From 1991 to the year 2001, the United States was in its longest ever period of economic expansion. Even from 2001 to 2007, the economy continued to expand with the “Dot Com” boom and technological advancements with the computer. In the year 2007, a period known as the “Great Moderation” came to an end as the ripple effects of the subprime mortgage crisis took hold. This “recession” eventually ended, but unemployment rates are still fairly high.

One problem is that there is significant competition for low-level jobs, and many people simply lack the skills to perform higher level functions. Additionally some people chose to remain unemployed due to the fact that they feel it is below their dignity to take a low paying job [after getting laid off from a better paying one]. Although being unemployed for a short duration may not be a huge setback, a new study highlights that long-term unemployment can not only be DETRIMENTAL to your psychological health, it can cause your personality to change for the worse.

Long-Term Unemployment Changes Personality Traits: The Research

Research at the University of Stirling headed by Christopher Boyce decided to investigate the psychological impact of being unemployed by determining how personality traits are affected with prolonged unemployment. What he found was that your core personality traits can change (usually for the worse) the longer you’re unemployed.

How the study worked

Sample: Boyce and his team of researchers examined a sample size of 6,769 German adults over a period of 4 years. Throughout this 4-year period, 210 people were unemployed for between 1 and 4 years, and 251 people were unemployed less than 1 year before getting a new job.

3,733 men
3,036 women

Methods: Throughout the 4 year period, personality tests were administered to all of the participants. These personality tests assessed the “Big Five” personality traits (in psychology) including: openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. The personality tests were given at different time points. It should also be noted that all participants were EMPLOYED AT THE TIME of the first test. By the second test, the participant was either: still employed, unemployed for 1-4 years, or re-employed after being unemployed.

Results: Unemployment resulted in significant change to personality traits such as: agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness. Those that were unemployed for a short-duration and then re-employed experienced minor change.

Agreeableness

Men: Men were found to experience an increase in agreeableness during their first 2 years of unemployment. However, after the initial couple years, agreeableness levels dropped, and went on to become lower than men who were employed.

Women: For women, agreeableness was a trait that declined with each year of unemployment. Throughout the 4 year period, levels of agreeableness continued to drop with the passing of another year.

Lead researcher, Boyce, speculated that in the earlier stages of unemployment, agreeableness may be a favorable trait to find another job. Certain incentives may make people behave more agreeable to improve their current situation. However, he also believes that after a 2 year period, those without jobs may be significantly less agreeable simply because their bleak outlook and unemployment has become psychologically solidified.

Conscientiousness

Men: It was also discovered that the longer men were without a job, the more their level of conscientiousness dropped. Conscientiousness is characterized by the desire to perform a task TO THE BEST OF ONE’S ABILITY, with thoroughness, organization, and vigilance. This is a trait that is specifically associated with enjoying your income. Since you have no income to enjoy, this may be partly why conscientiousness plummets.

Women: It seemed as though women actually gained conscientiousness in the early and late stages of being unemployed. Researchers believe that this may be due to the fact that women often assist in “caregiving” activities.

Openness

Men: After just 1 year of being unemployed, the trait of openness decreased among men. This means that their curiosity for the world around them experienced a significant drop.

Women: Although women didnt experience a sharp drop in levels of openness after just 1 year of being unemployed, they did experience a major drop by the second and third years of unemployment. Oddly enough, this trait significantly improved during their 4th year of unemployment.

SOURCE

Personality trait changes make it tougher to get hired

When you become unemployed, particularly for a long period of time, three of the “Big Five” personality traits take a turn for the worst. This often makes it even tougher for an individual to find work. If you all of a sudden become less agreeable with others, your conscientiousness plummets, and you have a less open personality, prospective employers may be more likely to turn you down for a job.

Agreeableness: This is a personality trait associated with sympathy for others, kindness, and cooperation. A drop in agreeableness may be associated with lack of a work routine, particularly one that involves social interaction. When you don’t have to work with others (or are alone a lot), there’s no need for the concept of teamwork to finish a particular task. At most jobs, you often have to do (at least a little bit of) work with someone else, bolstering your trait of agreeableness.

Conscientiousness: This trait is not only associated with performing a particular job well, its associated with motivation and ability to enjoy the fruits of one’s labor. If you aren’t conscientious, you probably don’t experience much motivation to get off your butt for work, let alone perform to the peak of your ability. When you’re unemployed, you have fewer opportunities to express this particular trait, leading to it becoming “dulled” in the process.

Openness: This is another social trait that allows you to allow (or try) new experiences. Those that have high levels of openness tend to try new things a lot. When you’re unemployed, you may not have the opportunity to engage in new experiences, particularly those that are often induced via socialization. This may also be related to the fact that when youre unemployed, you have less funds to partake in new, novel experiences (e.g. vacation). The lack of new stimuli for a prolonged period of time may make you less likely to engage in new experiences when finally given the opportunity.

Toll of unemployment more than just economic loss

The leader of the study (Boyce) believes that the effect of unemployment is more than just a financial loss. Unemployment creates a ripple effect that affects a person’s core personality traits often detrimentally. Therefore, he believes that the government should make their best effort to reduce unemployment rates to increase well being.

Boyce was quoted as stating, “Public policy therefore has a key role to play in preventing adverse personality change in society through both lower unemployment rates and offering greater support for the unemployed. Policies to reduce unemployment are therefore vital not only to protect the economy but also to enable positive personality growth in individuals.”

Additionally, he implied that our personalities are not “fixed” and that external factors (e.g. unemployment) can have a huge impact on personality traits. This means that there are other areas of your life such as relationships, friendships, hobbies, etc. that may impact the way your brain works and personality development.

Being unemployed creates neuroplastic changes in the brain

This research further supports the concept of self-directed neuroplasticity. Your entire brain functioning can change in response to wherever you focus your attention and put forth effort. If you become unemployed, you are now AWARE THAT YOU’RE UNEMPLOYED, aren’t contributing to anything meaningful, and your entire demeanor can change. If you continue to focus on the new way you’re FEELING and don’t find work, you’ll give more power to the new neural-pathways that develop.

Personality was long thought to remain stable over the lifetime, but researchers clearly demonstrate that something as simple as unemployment produces significant change for 3 of the “Big Five” personality traits. People that were previously conscientious, agreeable, and open, experienced major drops in expressions of these traits. Furthermore the changes (for the worse) were more significant based on duration of unemployment.

The longer the duration of being unemployed, the more severe the effects The personality changes undergo amplification the longer you remain unemployed. To decrease the likelihood that you’ll endure a debilitating personality change while you’re unemployed, it is recommended to find some sort of work (even if its volunteer work) to keep your favorable personality traits strong.

Suggestions for preventing unemployment-induced personality change

Below is a list of suggestions that you may want to keep in mind for mitigating the effects associated with unemployment.

Find a new job (ASAP): If you were working, but got laid off, fired, or quit your old job, the first thing you should do is find a new job as soon as possible. DonҒt wait for yourself to feel better before you start applying for something new, just do it right away. Getting a new job as soon as possible will result in the least amount of personality change. Some would argue that your personality wont change at all if you find work right away.

Health: While unemployed, make sure you are taking care of your personal health. Eating an optimal diet for mental health and getting plenty of exercise will provide significant benefit (Read: Psychological benefits of exercise). Do not neglect your health by taking up drinking and/or drugs to cope with your unemployment, this may lead to more detrimental outcomes.

Learn new skills: If you feel as though your current employment skills are outdated, take the time to learn new ones. Really put in the effort to find a mentor, teacher, and/or program that will help you learn what you need to know. Many people shy away from learning new skills when they are necessary in order to stay afloat in this economy.

Practice current skills: In order to keep your current skill-set as sharp as possible, you need to practice them. If you are a writer, keep writing everyday so that you donҒt lose your ability to perform well. If your skill involves designing, keep designing daily to improve upon your existing technique. Practicing your skills will ensure that there is no rustӔ or decline associated with your ability throughout a period of temporary unemployment.

Relentless pursuit: Those that get jobs quickly after becoming unemployed are relentless in their pursuit. Some are so relentless that they dont really care where they have to work, theyҒre going to work. If it means working at McDonalds or even Wal-Mart, they’re going to take the work because not only will it keep them busy, they will get social interaction, and will still earn some money. The goal is to continuously pursue work (particularly the career that you want), while not being overly picky. Remember, you can always leave a job you accept, but you cant leave a job offer you turn down.

Social connections: Stay as socially involved and connected with the community as possible. Not only can socialization help you maintain beneficial personality traits, someone you talk to may help you get a job. Having favorable social connections is a powerful tool that you can leverage to get work.

Stay busy: Avoid becoming lackadaisical as a result of newfound unemployment. Keep yourself busy so that you aren’t dwelling on the fact that youre unemployed. Dwelling on the depressing reality that you’re unemployed will further strengthen its control over you and your brain. Keep yourself occupied with friends, family, volunteer work, housework, and applying for jobs.

Why unemployment may cause psychological harm

There are several reasons that being unemployed may cause personality change and/or psychological harm (for some individuals). Most of these stem from feeling socially isolated for a prolonged period of time.

Social isolation: Perhaps the biggest detriment associated with unemployment is a social disconnect. If you relied on your co-workers to be your primary social contacts in the past, you may not feel like you can talk to anyone. During the day, most other people are working, and you may start to feel socially isolated from society.

Belief system: Being unemployed can quickly change your belief system as well. You may start to believe that the reason you donŒt have a job is due to the fact that you are incompetent and incapable of producing any value. While this is not likely to be true, many people start to believe that they are incapable and/or dont have the necessary skills for a job if they donҒt get hired.

Decreased income: When you aren’t earning any money from a job, you probably won’t be able to afford quality foods, top medical care, and living in a quality community. A simple decline in one area of your life such as that of dietary intake can have major consequences that influence other areas (e.g. cognitive function and mental health). In the past you may have been able to afford quality things, but with dwindling funds, you may have to settle for a poorer quality of life.

Depression: Losing a job can result in many people feeling depressed. They may become depressed for a variety of reasons, most of which stem from a loss. The depression may stem from lack of stability and a structured routine that a job provides. The depression may be exacerbated by lack of finances and the psychological stress associated with getting laid off and/or fired.

Anxiety: Some people become incredibly anxious that they don’t have work. This is due to the fact that their job loss was unexpected, and they “panic” because they have never been without work. Stress hormones takeover the body and a person may even have a nervous breakdown. Others become FEARFUL THAT THEY’LL RUN OUT OF MONEY, aren’t able to stay in the “loop,” or begin to feel inferior to others as a result of not having work.

Loneliness: You may start to feel incredibly LONELY now that you are without work. While loneliness is not the same as social isolation, many people feel lonely as a result of lack of social contact. If you were around many people at work, but now you don’t have a community of people to interact with, you may end up feeling more depressed, and in some cases SUICIDAL.

Perceptual changes: Your entire self-perception may undergo change when you become unemployed. While working you may have viewed yourself as a competent breadwinner for the family. Now that you are no longer working and earning money, you may start to become depressed and feel more uncertain about your future. Even small perceptual changes can be detrimental to your mental health.

SOURCE

Personal experience with unemployment

Although I don’t consider the results of the study to be conclusive and in no way does correlation equal causation, but I can testify for the fact that my levels of: agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness have all dropped (significantly) during the time Ive been unemployed. While employed and occupied with work, I actually found it easier to stay motivated in all areas of life.

Even the little bit of social interaction that I got from the job I worked helped me feel less lonely and socially isolated. If I’m being objective, my personality has changed since Ive been unemployed. Fortunately I wasn’t laid off or fired by my employer, rather I left my old career due to relocation. Below are some phases I personally experienced, many of which I believe go hand-in-hand with post-college depression.

Phase 1: Anxiety / Depression

Initially I experienced a lot of anxiety about where I was going to find new work and stay socially connected. The anxiety was intertwined with a depressed feeling that I shouldve stayed at my old job. I was nervous about making enough money to keep myself alive and functional and I was depressed that I lacked the social skills to go out and get a new job. The more I focused on my reality of being unemployed, the worse the anxiety and depression became.

Phase 2: Existential crisis

Likely due to lack of structure or routine in my day (that work provides) I went through an existential crisis. I got caught up with several addictions (many of which were difficult to overcome). At one point I was caught up in drinking and/or popping pain pills. Eventually the addiction shifted to sex and/or porn. I couldnҒt figure out what I was meantӔ to do here or my purpose for existing. It took me a long time before I realized that if I wanted purpose and meaning, I had to create it.

Phase 3: Social withdrawal

I went through another phase characterized by loss of social skills. I didnt lose all of my social skills at once, rather they just slowly declined with decreased usage. The withdrawal made me less relatable to others, less likely to approach others, and really decreased my courage. I became significantly more timid and less likely to explore new places (e.g. restaurants).

Phase 4: Cognitive impairment

I believe my cognition and wit declined in part due to lack of usage. I know for a fact that my writing isn’t as precise or conscientious as it was in the past. I still try my best, but my cognitive abilities have declined as a result of decreased usage. The ability of socialization to keep me stimulated and mentally “aroused” lead to better cognitive function. The fact that I dont get as much socialization as I did in the past has hampered my cognition to an extent.

Phase 5: Motivational deficits

Motivation declines significantly without social contact and/or a structured routine. Even if your workplace is crappy, you can still stay motivated. In fact, many times people that you dislike working with may serve to further motivate you to change and/or contribute more. It is nature for many to want to compete with others (in terms of production). Being around others can be inspiring and/or motivating in that there’s sometimes a bit of competition.

Phase 6: Realization

At some point, I realized that I had been declining in virtually all areas of my life, including my ability to think critically and write. Upon realizing this had occurred, I took conscious steps to slowly improve my situation. The key is to build some degree of positive momentum when you’ve trapped yourself into thinking that you’ll never be able to make a living or have a good life.

I created this momentum by forcing myself to writehere everyday, which is part of the routine that Ive established. I also make myself go to the gym 4x per week on the same schedule, and attend a ғgroup function 2x per week - regardless of how I feel. I walk outside daily, force myself to call family and/or friends, and talk to people when I have the opportunity. To mitigate the loneliness I also frequently listen to podcasts. Not only does it help me learn new things and gain perspectives, but the comfort of hearing a human voice decreases my loneliness.

Keep in mind: Correlation Doesn’t Equal Causation

It is important to realize that although this study discovered that several personality traits experienced change during times of unemployment, causation is difficult to establish. Some people may actually experience an increase in agreeableness and openness as a result of increased socialization during their time of being unemployed. Although there may be common trends among the unemployed, not everyone experiences this same effect.

There are individuals who lose their job and actually spend more time building quality relationships and making healthy lifestyle changes. It should also be mentioned that this study was conducted in a population of German citizens. Would we find the same trends among populations from other countries? It cannot be assumed until someone carries out a similar study in the particular country of interest.

Certain countries may utilize different coping strategies than others for dealing with unemployment. In some areas, being unemployed may not result in as steep of decline in traits like openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. It would also be worth investigating whether being employed (particularly in a positive environment) could increase the strength of certain (favorable) “Big Five” traits.

In other words, investigate whether people are deficient in certain traits by placing them into positive work-environments. Determine whether their personalities change over the course of 4 years. Similarly it may be worth investigating whether high-stress jobs and/or other unsatisfactory careers may serve as detrimental to one’s personality and/or mental health. Perhaps Working a DEAD END JOB may be worse for your personality than being unemployed.

Note: It should also be understood that not everyone follows the same decline in expression of the three traits within the study with long-term unemployment.  Realize that there is significant variation based upon the individual.

Adapting to the current economic times

Its really sink or swim, fly or fall, eat or be eaten, adapt or get left in the dust these days in regards to the economy, which makes it tough for many people. From a historical perspective, many people held cushy jobs that allowed them to earn a healthy living without actually contributing much to society. Now that those jobs are becoming obsolete and companies are downsizing, itҒs becoming more difficult to find work unless you have skills to fit the fast-changing economic times.

Additionally with a growing population and increased demand for technological-related skills, older generations are having a tough time finding work. The unfortunate reality is that if you are unemployed, you need to find something to fill that emotional void. Sure its about making enough money to support yourself, but the other aspects that come with a job such as social interaction (even if they aren’t positive interactions) keep the brain alertand stimulated and are often underrated.

Lack of social stimulation over a prolonged period is downright unhealthy and could lead to various forms of neurodegeneration. The age old adage in regards to personality seems to apply: if you don’t use it, you lose it. The less you express certain personality traits, the less likely you will be able to use them in the future. Similarly with your work-related skills, the less you use them, the more likely you are to lose them - all of which decrease your value in the eyes of an employer.

If you are unemployed, find a new job as soon as possible for not only the finances, but the socialization that accompanies it. You could be preserving many positive personality traits by getting a job as soon as you are unemployed. The longer you wait, the tougher it will be not only for you to find work, but to maintain positive personality traits such as: agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 01/01/18 •
Section Dealing with Layoff • Section Personal
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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Is There an Age Discrimination Epidemic?

image: cartoon ageism lawsuit

Is There Age Discrimination In Hiring?

By Edith S. Baker
BLS
April 2017

AGE DISCRIMINATION has long been a PART OF THE LANDSCAPE of the U.S. workplace, with countless studies examining the problem over the decades. In AGE DISCRIMINATION AND HIRING OF OLDER WORKERS (Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Economic Letter, no. 2017-06, February 27, 2017), David Neumark, Ian Burn, and Patrick Button add to the literature on the subject. Their work confirms what many studies have found: age discrimination in the workplace exists, and it is worse for older women than older men. Neumark, Burn, and Buttons research, however, stands out in that its scope is especially comprehensive, covering more than 40,000 job applicants for more than 13,000 job positions in 12 cities spread across 11 states.

The authors begin the discussion by stating this fact: the aging of the U.S. population, together with the lower labor force participation rate of older people (those 65 years and older) compared with that of their younger counterparts (ages 25 to 64 years), is inevitably leading to a sharp rise in the dependency ratio, the ratio of nonworkers to workers in the U.S. population. In other words, fewer and fewer workers will be available to support more and more nonworkers. To remedy this situation, policymakers have attempted to boost the labor supply of older workers. Policies aimed at doing that have centered around reforming the Social Security program: reducing benefits for those who retire as early as age 62 or at any time before reaching full retirement age; increasing the full-retirement age; and taxing Social Security benefits at a lower rate, for both those who continue working while receiving benefits and those who retire and receive benefits (a double-edged sword in that, at the same time that it will induce some older workers to keep working, it will encourage others to retire and receive the lower taxed benefits). But age discrimination in hiring has the potential to thwart all these reforms.

To learn how pervasive this age discrimination is, Neumark, Burn, and Button conducted a “correspondence study” - a study in which they created job applicant profiles that they sent in response to advertisements for positions. They then measured the number of callbacks each age group of otherwise identical applicants” received for a subsequent interview. Positions applied for were administrative assistant and secretary (female applicants), janitor and security guard (male applicants), and retail sales (both genders). Their results confirmed existing research findings.

First, the authors found that, across all the applications, the callback rate for interviews was uniformly lower for older applicants - a finding that they describe as “consistent with age discrimination in hiring.” With regard to specific job positions and specific genders, older (64 to 66 years) female applicants for administrative assistant jobs had a 47-percent lower callback rate than young (29 to 31 years) female applicants and older female applicants for sales jobs had a 36-percent lower callback rate than young female applicants, with the gap being statistically significant in both cases. Similarly, for male applicants for security and janitor jobs, the callback rates for older men were lower than those for young men, but the pattern was “not as consistent or pronounced” as that for the women applying for administrative assistant and sales jobs, and in some cases the gap between young and old was not statistically significant. In the one case in which a direct comparison could be made = sales positions - the 30-percent gap in the callback rates between young and older men was statistically significant, but was still smaller than the 36-percent gap in the rates for young and older women.

In sum, three findings stand out in the study reported in this article. First, the sample of more than 40,000 job applicant profiles offers statistical evidence that there is age discrimination in hiring - discrimination against both women and men. Second, older applicants - those 64 to 66 years of age - experience more age discrimination than middle-age applicants ages 49 to 51. Third, women - especially older women, but even those of middle age - experience more age discrimination in hiring than men do. Although the study did not look at why older women experience the worst degree of age discrimination, the authors suggest that it may be because appearance matters in the low-skilled administrative and sales jobs that they chose to examine and PHYSICAL APPEARANCE is evaluated more harshly for women than for men.

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An Epidemic of Age Discrimination

By Patricia G. Barnes
Aging Today
January 21, 2015

Many of the ills facing older Americans today began years ago, when they were victims of age discrimination in the workplace, resulting in terminations and layoffs, chronic unemployment and, ultimately, a financially impoverished early retirement.

In my book, Betrayed: The Legalization of Age Discrimination in the Workplace (2014), I argue that age discrimination is epidemic in America because the law prohibiting age discrimination, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), was weak to begin with, and has been further weakened by the U.S. Supreme Court. The lack of effective legal recourse leaves older workers vulnerable to unfounded and harmful age discrimination, a problem that was greatly exacerbated during the Great Recession.

Almost 50 years ago, Congress based the ADEA on a faulty theory that age discrimination is different from other types of discrimination and that it is, to some extent, justified by inevitable agerelated declines. Congress inserted loopholes into the ADEA and omitted major penalties found in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion and national origin.

The Court then issued rulings that make it far more difficult to win an age discrimination lawsuit. For example, in 2009, it established a higher level of proof in ADEA cases than in lawsuits alleging race or sex discrimination. The Court accords its lowest level of review to laws that discriminate on the basis of age, as opposed to race and sex.

Discrimination Increases with the Great Recession

The Great Recession only served to increase the incidence of age discrimination, causing a damaging ripple effect that led to employers seeking to cut costs to target older workers, who then became
mired in long-term unemployment. Meanwhile, older workers lost investment savings and equity in the housing foreclosure crisis. They then were unable to rebound financially because of rampant age discrimination in hiring.

ACCORDING TO RESEARCH by the National Employment Law Project (NELP), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that conducts research on unemployment, older workers experienced the greatest percentage increase in the size of their unemployment population from 2007 to 2011; it more than doubled from 1.3 million in 2007 to 3.2 million in 2011.

Evidence of age discrimination can be seen in a 29 percent jump in age discrimination complaints filed in 2008 with the U.S. EQUAL EMPLOYMENY OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, almost double the increase for other types of discrimination complaints. The EEOC reports there were 24,582 age discrimination complaints filed in 2008, compared to 19,103 in 2007. The EEOC received 21,296 age discrimination complaints in 2013.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Dept. of Labors Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that older workers suffer disproportionately from long-term unemployment (unemployment lasting 27 weeks or more.) NELP reports that more than half of older jobless workers were out of work for at least six months in 2011-2012. AARP’s analysis of non-seasonally adjusted BLS data from February 2014 shows that, on average, workers ages 55 and older were unemployed for 45.6 weeks, compared with 34.7 weeks for workers younger than age 55.

Why is this? Mainstream media commentators often blame jobless older workers for lacking skills, while ignoring evidence of pervasive age discrimination in hiring. Many employers (including the federal governments Pathways Recent Graduate Program) unabashedly advertise for “recent graduates” who are, overwhelmingly, younger than age 40.

So older workers suffer: jobless older workers can’t find jobs or are relegated to poorly paid part-time work. Meanwhile, a 2013 Urban Institute report found that 63 percent of long-term unemployed or underemployed workers in 2011 skipped dental visits, 56 percent put off healthcare and 40 percent did not fill medical prescriptions. Many older adults who have jobs are vulnerable to bullying or mistreatment, realizing if they quit, they face joblessness, loss of health benefits and poverty.

Early Retirement Impoverishes

The governments rosy October 2014, 4.1 percent employment rate for workers age 55 and older ignores the millions of older workers forced into poorly paid part-time or temp work and, finally, into an unwanted and ill-advised early retirement.

Between March 2008 and March 2013, about 1.4 million more Americans opted to draw on Social Security than were expected, according to Matthew Rutledge, an economist with Boston CollegeҒs Center for Retirement Research. At the height of the recession, he says as many as 53,000 extra Americans retired early each month. A 2013 survey by the Associated Press NORC Center for Public Affairs found that 33 percent of retired Americans felt they had no choice except to retire, and 54 percent of retirees younger than age 65 felt they had no choice but to retire.

Workers who retire at age 62 suffer a 25 percent cut in their monthly Social Security benefit for the rest of their lives compared to workers who retire at age 66, and a 32 percent decrease when compared to workers who retire at age 70.

Older workers who are systematically stripped of their jobs due to age discrimination CANNOT PREPARE for a financially sound retirement. Research by the Retirement Security Project shows that part-time workers lack sufficient income to contribute to 401(k) retirement plans. Many were forced to spend down whatever savings they had left after the recession. In retirement, they will be unable to cover medical expenses not covered by Medicaid, rising housing costs and other cost-of-living increases. Human toll aside, age discrimination costs society billions in lost productivity, higher medical and social welfare costs and higher Social Security premiums.

To improve the lives of American in their old age, society needs to stop the epidemic of age discrimination in the workplace. Congress should repeal the ADEA and add age as a protected class under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act so that older workers receive the same level of protection as other victims of illegal discrimination. And it must heed the warning of experts at the CENTER FOR ECONOMIC POLICY RESEARCH that cutting Social Security spells disaster for millions of older Americans who already are impoverished through no fault of their own.

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Posted by Elvis on 08/29/17 •
Section Dealing with Layoff
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Friday, June 30, 2017

Can’t Find A Qualified US Worker Redux 3

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A New Kind of Tech Job Emphasizes Skills, Not a College Degree

By Steve Lohr
June 28, 2017

A FEW YEARS AGO, Sean Bridges lived with his mother, Linda, in Wiley Ford, W.Va. Their only income was her monthly Social Security disability check. He applied for work at Walmart and Burger King, but they were not hiring.

Yet while Mr. Bridges had no work history, he had certain skills. He had built and sold some stripped-down personal computers, and he had studied information technology at a community college. When Mr. Bridges heard IBM was hiring at a nearby operations center in 2013, he applied and demonstrated those skills.

Now Mr. Bridges, 25, is a computer security analyst, making $45,000 a year. In a struggling Appalachian economy, that is enough to provide him with his own apartment, a car, spending money and career ambitions.

“I got one big break,” he said. “That’s what I needed.”

Mr. Bridges represents a new but promising category in the American labor market: people working in so-called new-collar or middle-skill jobs. As the United States struggles with how to match good jobs to the two-thirds of adults who do not have a four-year college degree, his experience shows how a workers skills can be emphasized over traditional hiring filters like college degrees, work history and personal references. And elevating skills over pedigree creates new pathways to employment and tailored training and a gateway to the middle class.

This skills-based jobs approach matters at a time when there is a push to improve the circumstances of those left behind in the American economy, many of whom voted for President Trump.

“We desperately need to revive a second route to the middle class for people without four-year college degrees, as manufacturing once was,” said Robert Reich, a labor secretary in the Clinton administration who is now a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. “We have to move toward a system that works.”

The skills-based concept is gaining momentum, with nonprofit organizations, schools, state governments and companies, typically in partnerships, beginning to roll out such efforts. On Wednesday, the approach received a strong corporate endorsement from Microsoft, which announced a grant of more than $25 million to help Skillful, a program to foster skills-oriented hiring, training and education. The initiative, led by the Markle Foundation, began last year in Colorado, and Microsoft’s grant will be used to expand it there and move it into other states.

“We need new approaches, or we"re going to leave more and more people behind in our economy,” said Brad Smith, president of Microsoft.

It is unclear whether a relative handful of skills-centered initiatives can train large numbers of people and alter hiring practices broadly. But the skills-based approach has already yielded some early and encouraging results in the technology industry, which may provide a model for other industries.

These jobs have taken off in tech for two main reasons. For one, computing skills tend to be well defined. Writing code, for example, is a specific task, and success or failure can be tested and measured. At the same time, the demand for tech skills is surging.

One tech project that has expanded rapidly is TechHire, which was created in 2015 and is the flagship program of Opportunity@Work, a nonprofit social enterprise. TechHire provides grants and expertise to train workers around the country and link them to jobs by nurturing local networks of job seekers, trainers and companies.

In just two years, TechHire’s network has grown to 72 communities, 237 training organizations and 1,300 employers. It has helped place more than 4,000 workers in jobs.

TechHires mission is partly to chip away at “the cultural hegemony of the bachelors degree,” said Byron Auguste, president of .

Nichole Clark of Paintsville, Ky., heard a radio ad last year for TechHire Eastern Kentucky. The program offered six months of training in software programming that included working with a company while being paid $400 a week. That was not much less than what Ms. Clark, now 24, was making as a manager at Pizza Hut.

“Without a college degree,” Ms. Clark said, her horizons seemed confined to low-wage jobs in fast-food restaurants, retail stores or doctors offices. The TechHire program, she said, could be “a doorway to a good-paying job, which is everything here.”

Ms. Clark made it through online screening tests and an interview and got into the program. TechHire’s role varies, and it often funds training grants, but in this program it solicited applicants and advised and shared best practices with Interapt, a software development and consulting company. The training stipends were paid for with a $2.7 million grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission.

After four months of taking all-day classes on the basics of writing software and two months of working in an internship alongside Interapt developers, Ms. Clark was hired by Interapt in May. As a member of the team that performs software quality assurance and testing, she is now paid more than $40,000 a year, about double what she made at Pizza Hut.

Ms. Clark is growing confident about her employment future. “There are endless roles you can play, if you have these skills,” she said.

In Colorado, Skillful is working to improve the flow of useful information among job seekers, employers, educators, governments and local training groups. The organization focuses on jobs in tech, health care and advanced manufacturing.

Ninety companies have worked with Skillfuls staff and partners to refine and clarify their descriptions of skills. That data has contributed to an online “training finder tool” - built by researchers at LinkedIn that shows salary ranges, skills required, training programs and nearby openings for different occupations. (Microsoft acquired LinkedIn, a Skillful partner, last year.)

“Were trying to use the very forces that are disrupting the economy” - technology and data to drive a labor market that helps all Americans,” said Zo Baird, chief executive of the Markle Foundation.

Ron Gallegos Jr., 31, has benefited from Skillfuls program. For years, he worked as a facilities manager overseeing cleaning crews in retail locations. Restless, he wanted to pursue a tech career.

He had a side gig fixing televisions, gadgets and PCs. But he was self-taught, had no college degree and needed training and credentials.

So in late 2015, Mr. Gallegos quit his job to study full time to gain training and certifications as a computer support technician, and later in network security.

At his local community college, Skillful representatives offered tips on job searches, ressum preparation, financial support and networking. At one event, Mr. Gallegos learned of a state grant available for a security course he wanted to take.

The programs career coaches also emphasized the so-called soft skills of speaking concisely, working cooperatively and attending industry and professional gatherings to meet people, Mr. Gallegos said.

Not content to just look for jobs, Mr. Gallegos created one for himself, setting up Mile High IT Services last fall. Now he works as a technology-support contractor for small businesses, and his one-man company is gaining traction, with his income exceeding $50,000 a year.

钓Its all pretty bright for me now,Ҕ he said.

In Rocket Center, where rocket engines were once built and some composite materials for American fighter jets are manufactured today, IBM occupies a few buildings and employs 350 people, including Mr. Bridges. They are working on cloud computing, cybersecurity, application development and help desks.

In the last two years, nearly a third of IBM’s new hires there and in a few other locations have not had four-year college degrees. IBM has jointly developed curriculums with the local community college, as well as one-year and two-year courses aligned with the company’s hiring needs.

For companies like IBM, which has 5,000 job openings in the United States, new-collar workers can help it meet its work force needs and do it inexpensively if those workers are far away from urban centers, where the cost of living and prevailing wages are higher.

“It makes sense for our business, for the job candidates and for the communities,” said Sam Ladah, IBM’s vice president for talent.

The company, which stopped disclosing its American employment in 2007 and regularly cuts jobs in declining businesses, declined to say whether it was increasing its total domestic work force.

But at the West Virginia center, IBM plans to hire up to 250 people this year, including more like Mr. Bridges.

“Now, were recruiting for skills,” Mr. Ladah said.

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Posted by Elvis on 06/30/17 •
Section Dealing with Layoff
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