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Good Attitude Critical When Coping With Layoff Trauma

THURSDAY, April 14 (HealthDay News) -- Trying to make the best of the situation and being open to change can help older managers cope with losing their jobs, a new United Kingdom study finds.

The researchers found that the people most successful at coping with their job loss were able to see the event as a new era in their lives that included self-employment, part-time work, volunteering and study.

They also took a contemplative view of their job loss and accepted that life might or might not return to what it had been. Overall, they were able to redefine and separate themselves from their former career status and the pain and shock of their layoff.

Participants in the study included formerly senior, highly paid male and female managers, aged 49 to 62, in the U.K. who lost their jobs in hostile circumstances and were deeply traumatized by the experience. They were enrolled in a government-funded coaching program for older unemployed managers.

Participants who were less successful in coping regarded their job loss as the "end of the line," believed their career was over, were deeply wounded and experienced high levels of despair, feelings of devastation and acute depression.

A final group did somewhat better by viewing the layoff as a "temporary derailment" of a career that would eventually regain its former prestige.

The study appears in the journal Organization Studies.

"In the years and decades ahead were likely to find more and more successful professionals in late career confronting the reality of unemployment, vastly reduced income, power and status," Yiannis Gabriel, of the University of Bath's School of Management, said in a university news release.

"Our study shows that coaching can play a modest but significant part in helping these professionals to come to terms with their predicament. Importantly, effective coaches seem to help unemployed professionals redefine themselves," Gabriel said.

"Professionals are more likely to come to terms with unemployment if they can create a story which allows them to discover their voice as a person who is unemployed but whose identity is not defined by their unemployment," Gabriel added.

More information

The New York State Department of Labor offers advice on how to handle job loss.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: University of Bath, news release, April 12, 2011

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