Laid-Off Workers to Former Bosses: No Hard Feelings

A big group of laid-off workers have a message for their formers employers: No hard feelings.

A new study from Temple University found that 45 percent of layoff victims surveyed would go back to work for the employer that let them go.

The study's sample included a wide range of unemployment lengths, with 65 percent of those surveyed out of work for at least 27 weeks, the U.S. Department of Labor’s definition of long-term unemployment. Another 23 percent of those included in the study were unemployed for more than two years.

Tony Petrucci, an assistant professor at Temple and managing partner at Gravitas LLC, an executive and board search firm, said layoff victims are willing to return to their employer because many are in a state of desperation.

"They're in a severe hardship," Petrucci said. "People are saying, 'I may not like this employer because of how they handled my layoff. I’m angry, but I would consider going back to work with them.'"

Researchers say the study emphasizes the importance of fair and transparent layoff decisions, since the treatment of downsized employees can impact layoff survivors, company reputation and the ability to attract candidates during an economic recovery.

Employers have a vested practical interest in ensuring that the process of deciding who goes and who doesn’t is perceived as fair, especially in today's digital age that provides scorned employees with forums to publicly vent their frustrations and negative sentiments, the researchers said.

"How employers treat employees through layoffs is always important and will become even more so when the economy fully rebounds and it’s an employees' market again," said Gary J. Blau, the study's lead author and a human resource management professor at Temple.

Those who remain at a company can also be affected by stories of mistreatment from layoff victims, the study found.

Remaining employees with lower trust, motivation and commitment "would be more likely to give a negative or discouraging employer endorsement/referral to prospective applicants," the authors wrote.

The study, “Effects of Layoff Victims’ Justice Reactions and Emotional Responses on Attitudes Toward Their Previous Employer,” appears online in the journal Career Development International.

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