Tips for surviving this costly time of year and getting back on your feet.
Holiday layoffs are more common than you’d think.
Or so say employment experts. “A vast majority of organizations run on a calendar year budget and year-end coincides with the need to achieve year-end numbers. This often triggers the decision to reduce costs, including people and expenses to meet the budget,” Steven Rothberg, president of the career website College Recruiter, told TheStreet.com in 2015.
This year, November and December have brought a number of mass terminations. General Electric has culled 12,000 jobs from its electrical power division, trimming that department by 18%. Condé Nast announced plans to lay off 80 workers, and, falling 20% short of revenue forecasts, Buzzfeed is cutting 100 positions.
For victims of these layoffs, the most wonderful time of the year may seem colder than ever.
Twenty-seven-year-old South Florida resident Tina Stone, who was laid off from her job at a talent agency in December, didn’t predict that the end would come as abruptly as it did.
Earlier this week, Stone was asked to pack up her things immediately — her employer cited personal emails that were in violation of the company handbook for her being let go, though she says she never signed the handbook or agreed to its policies. Stone received no severance, has no money in savings, and will have to get rid of her car if she can’t find a new job soon. In the meantime, her husband will now have to support the couple and their five-year-old daughter.
Having “no savings, [it will be] really tight but I think we’ll be okay for maybe two or three weeks. It’ll be tight,” she says.
It’s going to be even harder because the family had already planned a trip to New York City to celebrate the holidays. “It kind of sucks getting fired when they knew I was going on vacation,” Stone added. And what will she tell her daughter while she is seeking her next job? “If she asks me why I’m home, [I’ll say]: ‘Mommy has taken a few days off to plan for the holidays.’ I probably won’t tell her [why]. She’s a little too young for that.”
Pennsylvania resident Gary Glinski also recalls being let go from his construction job right before Christmas back in 1996; his job went to his then-boss’ son. “I think it’s an inhumane thing to do.” Asked if he received any kind of severance to help him get through the holidays, Glinski laughed. “Are you kidding? I didn’t even receive gas money.”
And Glinski says he bit the bullet and paid for presents as opposed to paying bills like his monthly car insurance, because he didn’t want to open the door to the pity or embarrassment that could come with admitting he was facing financial hardship especially during the holidays.
Despite the fact that human resources experts say that firing employees around the holidays should generally be avoided for ethical reasons, it happens. Here are a few steps to take if it happens to you.
- Stay composed: “Understand that this really is [usually] not personal,” says Amy Polefrone, CEO of HR Strategy Group in Baltimore. “As difficult as it is, leave with your head held high; don’t burn bridges on your way out.”
- Get help: If you’re leaving on good terms, ask your manager or the HR department for a letter of recommendation for your upcoming round of applications, or help reviewing your CV, says Polefrone.
- Negotiate severance: “You can negotiate the package,” Polefrone suggests — but take a non-confrontational approach. “You can ask for additional time and money from the company; you can request an additional month or two of benefits continuation.”
- Be honest with family and friends: While the conversation with loved ones may be difficult, you have to be “honest and upfront” about your financial situation, says Connecticut etiquette expert Karen Thomas — especially if you’re restricting your budget. “People will understand … and will be more than willing to forego [receiving] a gift.”
- Get back out there: January is a decent time of year to look for your next job, says Peter Cappelli, a professor of management and director of human resources at the Wharton School of Business. “December is impossible because nobody’s paying attention,” he says — so use the time from now through the New Year to prepare.“Use all of the free resources you can from the company,” Polefrone adds. “You can also get assistance from your state’s Department of Labor — they have workforce training programs, resumé-writing programs,” and, you can find a lot of helpful information just by searching online.”Make sure you update your LinkedIn profile; let your friends know on Facebook,” Polefrone says. “This is your new job: Marketing yourself.”
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