A new study of highly paid, college-educated professionals who are unemployed finds that 45 percent of layoff victims would return to work for their former employer, despite being angry over being terminated.
According to researchers from Temple University, the study also emphasizes the importance of fair and transparent layoff decisions, as the treatment of laid-off employees affects the employees who remain, company reputation and the ability to attract candidates during an economic recovery.
“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 human resource management professor Dr. Gary J. Blau, the study’s lead author.
If those who are laid off are seen as mistreated, the employees who remain may anticipate the same or even worse treatment, according to the researchers.
This will “lower trust, motivation and commitment” among the surviving employees, who would then be more likely to give a “negative or discouraging employer endorsement/referral to prospective applicants,” the researchers said.
The researchers examined unemployment effects on an understudied population: Salaried professionals, middle managers and executives.
Of the 382 respondents surveyed online, 64 percent earned more than $75,000 a year, 79 percent had at least a college degree, 79 percent were the primary source of household income when laid off, and 83 percent were salaried professionals or in higher positions.
The sample also included a wide range of unemployment lengths, with 65 percent out of work for at least 27 weeks, the U.S. Department of Labor’s definition for long-term unemployment.
Another 23 percent who were unemployed for more than two years suffered the most in a number of areas, including lower life satisfaction, lower re-employment confidence and higher unemployment stigma and depression.
Respondents’ comments underscored the effects of unemployment, with numerous complaints about delayed retirement, perceived age discrimination, and the unfairness of automated application-screening measures, as well as striking statements of despair.
“The last 30 years of my life have been erased,” said one respondent. Concluded another: “I remind myself that being unemployed is not the end of the world … but I think I can see it on the horizon.”
“We forget about these people because they aren’t even counted in the labor force if they aren’t doing a proper search,” co-author Dr. John McClendon, an associate professor, said of the segment of the unemployed who are not considered part of the workforce if they have not actively looked for a job in the past four weeks.
“They literally can disappear.”
Source: Temple University