Stress kicks into high gear after job cuts

Post-downsizing stress syndrome is different than day-to-day stress.
Mar 04, 2009
By staff
If there have been layoffs at your practice but you’ve dodged the ax, you’re probably swamped with additional duties and longer hours. You could even be suffering from post-downsizing stress syndrome, a condition that afflicts those who have held on to their jobs during the downturn.

According to a professor at the University of New Hampshire Whittemore School of Business and Economics, many employees are discovering that they must adjust to a new on-the-job culture. It’s a culture that expects them to take over responsibility for the work of those who have left. Those employed are grateful, but they also feel threatened, abandoned, and burdened with more work; plus they’re subject to overall greater job stress.

The stress that develops in a downsized environment is different from regular job stress. A downsized environment is usually the result of deteriorating business conditions beyond the immediate control of management. It affects a wider percentage of the workforce in the organization that it would under normal circumstances.

Symptoms of post-downsizing stress syndrome include trouble concentrating, irritability with other coworkers, anger toward management, health problems, and a sense of helplessness. You can help your employees overcome stress by bringing concerns into the open and acknowledging their insecurities and fears. It’s key to communicate with employees—this is no time to keep them guessing. Hold meetings to discuss the problems your practice faces and ask team members what’s on their minds. Starting an open discussion will help ease some stress.