« My big move and my struggle with work/life balance | Main | Can Social Media sites Save the Tortillas? »

Do you have survivor syndrome?

Harried employee It's creeping into offices nationwide....survivor syndrome.

I've seen it first hand at my newspaper and I'm sure many of you have experienced it. It's that anxiety that permeates a workplace after job cuts.

If you have it, maybe it shows up in the way you dread walking through your office door or maybe you feel that it's only a matter of time before the other shoe drops.

A new report out today says employers are admitting the biggest challenge they face in the wake of layoffs is keeping the surviving employees engaged and focused. The next biggest challenge was easing anxiety over the possibility of additional layoffs, according to a new survey by global outplacement firm, Challenger Gray & Christmas.

If you have survivor syndrome, here's a bit of bad news that may make you even more anxious: More layoffs are highly probable. Challenger says that although downsizing remains slow during the summer months, if the past is any indication, the pace could accelerate again in the third and fourth quarters. The latest survey of CEOs by the Business Roundtable supports the less-than-optimistic outlook.

Experts advise employers to address survivor syndrome head on because companies that have layoffs also have a higher turnover rate.

"You cannot simply tell employees to ‘do more with less.’  There must be a back-and-forth dialog to address employees’ concerns and fears," says John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. "They must be an active part of the problem-solving process."

Challenger says even details such as the physical layout of the office should be addressed.  "Many companies overlook this, but it is not hard to imagine the psychological effects of coming into a workspace where large portions of the desks are empty, serving as a constant reminder of downsized colleagues,” (So true!)

If you have survivor syndrome, what could your employer do that would make a difference?