Five Stages of Looming Layoffs

March 17, 2014 at 1:05 PM

Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are the five stages of looming layoffs. We've all been through this full range of emotions in our working lives, especially those of us who have been laid off or lived with the rumors of layoffs at our workplace.

Denial - "I'll never get laid off, my job is too important," we tell ourselves. Or there's always the "I do something nobody else in their right mind would ever want to do," excuse. Either way, it simply isn't true. When push comes to shove and the music stops there's only so many places in each company for people to sit down and lately those places have gotten fewer and fewer at American companies.

Anger - At one point or another we all rage at the company that is laying off so many of our friends and colleagues. How could those millionaires lay off so many of us thousand-aires just to make the bottom line look good for Wall Street? Or there's always the theory that "so-and-so is the boss's favorite, he/she is golden, they'll never get laid off."

Sign Up for E-News

Truth is, the millionaires really don't care about the anger of the thousand-aires in the trenches, and yes, like it or not, bosses have been known to play favorites. And while anger is a natural and healthy emotion in these uncertain times, it really does little good over the long haul. Those who you want to hear you can't, don’t or won’t.

Depression - I see so many of my former colleagues in the media living under the specter of being laid off. Even though things appear to have leveled off a bit in the journalism world as the general economy slogs its way to recovery, the ghost of layoffs past, present and future still haunt everyone who I used to call a co-worker.

Depression and the stress related to layoffs is an emotion that hides just beneath a layer of occupational hopelessness in many industries today. Despite an apparent upturn in employment many workers are cautious while they wait to exhale and draw in the warmth breath of fiscal stability.

Acceptance - At some point we all realize that what is going to happen is going to happen. We've all seen extremely talented folks in every occupation be cast aside due to downsizing, outsourcing, industry shutdowns or living past their prime.

But there is also a peace that comes with acceptance. Peace in the knowledge that you did your best. Peace in knowing that the sun will rise in the east and set in the west, and you will be the same hard worker that you were the day before, the same father, the same friend, the same human being. Peace in knowing that every job -- regardless of how large or small -- is worth doing well and the only one judging you is you.

Students of psychology will recognize these as the five stages of grief that were spelled out in 1969 by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her book "On Death and Dying." Her hypothesis holds that not all people facing death or extreme life-altering experiences will feel each of these emotions or in any certain order.

My hope with this post is to let you know you're not alone. We all face fears in our lives -- whether it's the threat of a layoff or simply the great unknown -- and it's OK if you are feeling any or all of these emotions. It simply means you're human.

AnnMarie Quintaglie McIlwain is a former marketing executive with Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson and consultant to several Fortune 100 companies.  Now, as Founder and CEO of, she is a social entrepreneur who connects people with the information and inspiration they need in order to get jobs and start businesses. CareerFuel is the only site that gives people what they need to know to find jobs or start businesses plus blogs and short films about real people who made it happen. 

A recipient of numerous civic and leadership awards, AnnMarie is a Board member of, was a participant in the first White House Entrepreneurial Session, the recent WeOwnIt Summit, and the first Alley to the Valley Event.  She is also a member of 85Broads and Startup America.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News


Summit Police Blotter

December 5, 2016

11/15 - At 0905 hours a report was taken for a theft from a business. The incident occurred between 11/4 at 1500 hours and 11/9 at 0830 hours at a business on Beauvoir Avenue. The victim reported that two HP Chromebooks were taken; valued at approximately $500.00 each.

11/17 - Sandra M. Cruz-Huertas, 33, of Bound Brook was arrested and charged with theft by deception. Ms. Cruz-Huertas was ...

Video: Point View's Dietze Says Market 'Has Gotten Ahead of Itself'

December 8, 2016

Point View Wealth Management Founder, President, and Chief Investment Strategist, David Dietze, spoke live on BNN on investment strategies following recent record highs in the stock market:

Point View Wealth Management, Inc. works with families in Summit and beyond, providing customized portfolio management services and comprehensive financial planning, to ...

Frosty Fun Holiday Camp at The Connection

The Connection is holding a Frosty Fun Holiday Camp this winter break for children ages 4 and up. The camp runs Tuesday, December 27 - Friday, December 30.  There are morning (9am-1pm) and afternoon (1pm-5pm) times as well as an all day (9am-5pm) option with early drop off and extended pick up times available.

Children will have fun with friends and reunite with their favorite summer camp ...

Beckerman’s Theory of Everything

Any armchair theoretical physicist knows that Stephen Hawking has pursued a lifelong quest to come up with a Theory of Everything. This all-encompassing theory would tie together general relativity (large scale and high mass galaxies, stars, etc), quantum theory (quantum mechanics, quarks, atoms, subatomic particles), and Newtonian physics (gravity on small bodies, gas laws, electromagnetism) to ...

To Be a Better Investor, Be More Rational!

Many posit the theory of rational man, who coolly and carefully calculates his self-interest in a logical manner. We all fall somewhat short of that ideal.  In the financial markets, irrationality can be costly. What are some of the common foibles, and what can we do to minimize their damage to our portfolios?

Don’t Make Decisions Based on What You Paid For an Investment

How ...

Ain't That Grand?

Meeting Specials at The Hilltop City's 'Town Hall' Heat Up as Weather Turns Cold

The Grand Summit Hotel in prestigious Summit has hosted meetings -- steps from the vibrant, yet quaint, downtown -- for more than 100 years -- our staff taking tremendous pride in carrying on a tradition that has been in place for decades.

At a time when many of the nation’s hotels have taken on a similar look and feel, The Grand Summit Hotel’s corporate clientele enjoys the ...

What's in a Name?

Sign here:   ________________________________


And here and here and here.  Initial these five boxes.  Then sign right here and over here stating that you understand that you are signing something you haven’t read.  And on the last page please sign and date this disclaimer stating that you are fully responsible for signing and dating this document even if you ...