Career & Retirement News

Laid Off? That May Be Better Than the Alternative

Research at Boeing finds the corporate survivors in more miserable shape than those who got pink slips.

Nobody likes the idea of getting laid off. But for many working in one of America’s large corporations, not getting laid off can actually be worse. At least that’s the conclusion of a team of academics who spent 10 years studying Boeing Co., from 1996-2006, a time when the company had to shrink its work force by tens of thousands.

The researchers found that workers who lost their jobs, while having to make adjustments in their lives, often went on to find more fulfilling—if not always more lucrative—jobs. Not only that, they drank less, slept better and enjoyed better overall health. In contrast, those left behind were strained and stressed to the breaking point, pushed to do their own work plus that formerly done by their departed colleagues. “How much better off the laid-off were was stunning and shocking to us,” University of Puget Sound professor Sarah Moore told Business Week.

Executive coach Bernie Siegel wouldn’t have been shocked. Years of coaching Wall Street and other business executives have taught him that, for many, tunneling along inside large corporations is a road to nowhere. “I don’t say ‘sorry’ when people tell me they’ve been fired or laid off,” says Siegel, president of the New York chapter of the International Coach Federation. “I tell them this could be the best thing that ever happened to them.”