ST Forum: Don’t ignore mental health of workers who lose their jobs

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ST Forum: Don’t ignore mental health of workers who lose their jobs


NOV 24, 2023


The topic of mental health has been prominent since the start of the pandemic (New network launched to champion positive mental health practices in the workplace, Nov 20).

Many companies have been putting strategies in place to help employees with mental health issues. Staff are also encouraged to be more self-aware, and to take better care of themselves. 

Business restructuring will continue, and job losses will continue to be one consequence. It is more pertinent than ever that employers are acutely aware of the need to pay closer attention to the mental health of staff. People react differently to involuntary job loss. It is commonly perceived that mature professionals and millennial workers respond better to job loss. This is not true.

From what I’ve observed as a career coach, even grown men cry over losing their jobs. Employers should always plan for the worst and hope for the best when it comes to conducting retrenchments – from executing the exercise to supporting those affected, including those who are not leaving. 

Those not leaving are sometimes overlooked. These people can become emotionally distraught seeing colleagues and friends pack their personal belongings and walk out of the office for the last time.

Emotional reactions to being given the pink slip range from relief from those hoping for a financial payout of retrenchment benefits, to a loss of self-confidence and esteem. 

If not managed properly, retrenchment could result in upset individuals going into deep depression, and even resorting to suicide.

Employers must ensure that workers impacted by job loss are provided with not just career transition support, but also emotional support.

Paul Heng

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