Supporting partner after layoff?
October 4, 2013 8:04 PM   Subscribe

My partner and I used to work at the same company. My partner was laid off this week. I was not.

How can I best support my partner through this while still going to work every day? I can't really take time off because 1) I have to show up and be all YAY COMPANY!! to reassure people who have the power to fire me that I am not holding a grudge and 2) we need the money.

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posted by anonymous to Work & Money (7 answers total)
Work any outside contacts you have to help him find a new job. (Assuming he wants a new job.)
posted by jaguar at 8:11 PM on October 4, 2013

This happened to a pair of coworkers of mine after the financial collapse. She was let go, and he stayed on for about a year until he had something else lined up. The company made a decision following their strategy - it was not personal. With that said, it has personal ramifications, and quite possibly your direct supervisor gets that. They want you, they did not let you both go and abandon your family completely, but I would doubt if they would begrudge you in a year if you chose to leave on your own terms, after your partner found employment and you had a little bit more wiggle room to job search on your own.

So yeah, brave face for now. Be supportive to your partner at home. Do your job at work. Help your partner through what is traditionally an unhappy transition. Get them on unemployment as quickly as possible, then help them get their resume in shape as quickly as possible. Both hit your linkedin hard, and after you feel comfortable with your partner in a new job, I'd start a job search of your own.

As for your company, they know your partner is sad. They know you are relieved you are still employed but probably a little upset with the corporate entity. They will expect you to probably leave at some point. They likely will understand if you decide to depart.

Remember, if you quit to show solidarity with your partner, they pay half the unemployment than if they had laid you both off.
posted by Nanukthedog at 8:26 PM on October 4, 2013 [5 favorites]

My partner and I had this exact scenario happen. Here's what worked for us--maybe it'll help you:

Stop talking about work at home. If you had a crappy day, you don't get to talk about it right now, because partner's experience with crappy days at company was recent and totally worse than yours. The exception to this is if your partner wants to vent about it--mine spent several days raging about various things, and I pretty much just agreed and nodded and got him another beer.

If your partner responds to rational lines of thought, point out that maybe this is for the best--too many eggs in one basket isn't good, and [all your income] + [one company] = lots of really important eggs in one flimsy basket. In the long run, this will improve your financial stability.

Encourage your partner to apply for whatever unemployment benefits they're eligible for, even if that means you do some of the legwork for them. Mine really struggled with this, and I didn't want to offend by doing the legwork, and as a result we had a much harder time than we had to.

Encourage your partner to leverage any contacts, including mutual contacts, to find more work. For mutual contacts, offer to be the one to reach out to the person.

Other than that, it's all the standard supportive stuff, which I'm sure you can do.

Also, a tip for you, in the interest of showing some Rah! Company! spirit: when my partner was laid off, I went into my boss's office that afternoon and requested that some of their former workload be given to me. I was lucky because I was in a position to take on more work, and I got the impression that people were impressed that not only was I not showing up frothing and furious, but I was actively helping to fill the hole that partner left. It did a lot towards keeping me in management's good graces.
posted by MeghanC at 8:31 PM on October 4, 2013 [9 favorites]

"... How can I best support my partner through this while still going to work every day? ..."

I think you might start by reminding your partner that corporate downsizings are not a normal business function, and are rarely the purely logical exercise they might think such actions would be. In my experience, there's a fair amount of random managerial action and choice in the process that connects budget targets to employee numbers, and if you bring in the managers involved on the day after, many would make different choices for the "let go" list. But the folk let go, are already let go, and that must be that.

That said, your job continues to be your job, and possibly more, as probably defined by your supervisors to accommodate the staff reductions. If your job description contains the phrase "and other duties as assigned," be mindful of that, as well as whatever other duties may now be assigned.
posted by paulsc at 10:13 PM on October 4, 2013

This depends on how your partner feels about the layoff. My former company had pretty much gotten rid of all 20 or so other people in my hiring group after seven or so previous layoff campaigns, so by time I got let go, so there was little sense of "why me?" and a whole lot more "man, what a relief!" If your partner doesn't feel that way I did, helping them see that this is how big companies tend to run the show would probably help.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:03 PM on October 4, 2013

This won't help you now, but: in the future, try to work at different companies --- that way, if one company goes belly-up or lays people off, the other will hopefully be in a more secure position, and your household will be at least *a little* insulated from the risk of NO income from either of you.

For now though, all you can do is not say something like 'my work today was hard!' (it could come off as almost bragging: *I* have a job & you don't!), sympathize but don't go overboard; help the job-searching but ONLY as much as your partner wants you to.

And be aware that a lot of people (myself included) react to layoffs with at least a short stunned period of nothingness --- your partner might spend the first week or two doing nothing at all, and that's okay. Some people dive right into the job search, some don't.
posted by easily confused at 4:05 AM on October 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

We went through a lay off earlier this year (but not at the same company) but here are some tips I learned Laid Off Spouse. The best thing I found after the whole thing was done was to keep positive for him. It was hard. Really hard - worrying the whole time about $ and the future, however I really found he responded better if I kept upbeat. The worst thing was he was at home so when I came home he just talked and talked because he missed his work environment. LinkedIn was invaluable to him as were support from friends. Despite wanting to bury my head in the sand, we told everybody (which thankfully led to his new position) so I highly suggest that you both relay to friends and family your new situation. People were much more supportive then I thought they would be and really kind. I kind of found out who you could really count on when this happens. I tend to be a worrier anyway so I made sure I exercised a lot (since that's what makes me feel better) - don't forget to take care of you - you have a lot riding on your shoulders now.

I'm sorry I can't help you more on the working environment but I suspect to grin and bear it is probably the best thing at this point. Hopefully you have a friend (not your partner) whom you can relay your worries to.

Good luck! It will get better.
posted by lasamana at 4:15 AM on October 5, 2013

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