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How to help if you know someone who lost their job…during the crisis of a generation

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How to help if you know someone who lost their job…during the crisis of a generation

Last night I read in shock the news of LinkedIn laying off hundreds of employees across the globe. I am personally aware of many brilliant, former colleagues, individuals I know well who have always been exceptional performers, losing their jobs. I know of countless individuals both at LinkedIn but also at other organisations who have been the victim of these wide-spread “right-sizing” activities. And sadly this is not new, we are hearing these messages often at the moment as business upon business readies itself for the long-term impacts of this virus.

With each week as the number of people infected with Covid-19 increases, so too does the toll the virus is taking on the global economy and in particular on job security. Millions of individuals have lost their jobs, have been furloughed, lost their income and are anxious for their future as job losses sweep through industries during these challenging times.

Last night I took time to sit with the news, reaching out to people I know who may have been impacted to check in and offer support. When I woke up this morning and opened up LinkedIn, I was so inspired by the wave of support from alumni and others reaching out to be of assistance to individuals who have lost their jobs. Obviously nothing can take away the very real worry and heartache that many will be feeling having lost their jobs, but these genuine outreaches are an example of the human spirit at work. These offers are beautiful and heart-felt, they were an outpouring of sincerity and compassion.

“I cannot do all the good that the world needs. But the world needs all the good that I can do” – Jana Stanfield

So, if you are someone who has been called on as a support for someone during these times, or are someone who wants to help individuals you know who have been impacted, here are three simple ways you can step up to support your people:

  1. Be there to listen – your job as a friend, a partner, a parent, a colleague is to be a shoulder to cry on, to listen with the intent to hear, to understand and to create space for them to feel what they are feeling. First ask if they want to talk about it and if they do, then create the space to fully listen actively. Acknowledge the pain, the loss, or whatever emotion is being experienced – validate, normalise and name what you see. Our instinct as humans is to problem solve and to ‘fix’ problems we see. We have become so good at it that we don’t even notice we’re doing it any more. But the person sitting in front of you is not a problem that needs to be solved, but rather a human being that is capable of designing and leading their own lives and knowing what they need. Saying things like ‘lots of people lost their jobs’ or ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ or ‘things happen for a reason’, or ‘I wish I could take a break right now’ will likely really not help. This is not about you, it is about them. Similarly, trying to quickly gloss over this situation will only make them feel more alone. Be with them, lean into the discomfort of it, give them space to share how they feel and what they feel they need.

  2. Ask how you can help – after giving them space to be, when they are ready to take action, ask how you can be in service, what would really help. You can make suggestions but don’t be wedded to them or charge ahead with your own plan if it doesn’t resonate for the individual who has lost their job. It could be connecting them with opportunity (as below), or helping them with their resume, or prepping for job interviews, or watching their children whilst they take some time to invest in themselves. Whatever it is there are there are numerous ways you can help but it is best to take your cue from the individual by simply asking genuinely what you can do to help support them.

  3. Connect them with opportunity – one of the key ways you can help might be to find ways to tap into your own network, help make introductions and create opportunities. Perhaps your own organisation is hiring, or perhaps you know of other organisations where there might be a strong fit. Perhaps you might even be able to connect them with professionals to help them navigate the job hunt – a recruiter, a careers-advisor, a mentor. Make referrals and introductions meaningfully and help with follow-ups if the meetings don’t immediately materialise.

Importantly, this is also a key opportunity for you personally to practice gratitude. Sometimes it takes a moment like we’re all experiencing in this crisis to actually stop and truly acknowledge our blessings. Don’t let this moment pass you by – stop and ask yourself what am I grateful for?

“The things you take for granted someone else is praying for”

Just know that whether it is us as individuals, or teams or businesses, we are all vastly more resilient than we give ourselves credit for and are made of strong stuff. Remember, diamonds are made under pressure!

If you are an individual who has been affected, please also see my other post on this topic: What to do if you lost your job…during a global pandemic  or reach out if I can help in any way.


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