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Two Years Later: A Layoff Survivor Describes The New Atmosphere

Flickr Photo/Thomas Hawk (Cc-BY-NC-ND)

Back in May 2011, Laura was in the habit of whispering at work – even when talking about the weather. She was a manager at T-Mobileat a time when the company was suffering deep layoffs.

She was a “layoff survivor” – her colleagues were losing their jobs, workloads were shifting, and she was in fear of her own position. She declined to release her full name.

Psychologist Sarah Moore is the author of a study that looked at the effects of restructuring and layoffs on those left behind. She said her research showed that the ones who stayed suffered more than the ones who were laid off: more headaches and back aches, higher blood pressure, heart problems and drinking issues, including binge drinking.

Laura said that these days, the work atmosphere is significantly better. “Now, there’s no rumor that layoffs are imminent. Obviously, the economy is better,” she said. “We’re not worried incessantly about losing our jobs and we’re not seeing our friends and co-workers lose their jobs. It’s just relatively calmer compared to before.”

T-Mobile named a new CEO in September 2012, and since then John Legere is credited with boosting the company. He’s also known as a rabble rouser who drops f-bombs at press conferences. He snuck into the AT&T party in Las Vegas a couple weeks ago and got kicked out.

Laura said his presence has had an effect on her. “It just makes me feel like if my CEO is that comfortable being himself, then I can be that comfortable being myself,” she said. “He’s setting a standard, so why not? And if I can be myself at work, then I’m much closer to being satisfied with my job.”

Laura said she doesn’t even like to think about that period in 2011. “I shudder when I think about it. Now that I’m well past it, I promise to myself that I will not go there again. If I ever feel like I’m getting close to that work environment or imbalance again, I will step in and do my own intervention- and get out of it much sooner.”

In KUOW’s previous profile of Laura, she said she was finished. She wasn’t going to take it anymore and she was looking for another job. She said it was tough. “Looking for another job is easier said than done on a number of levels. There’s the obvious limitations of availability. Then there’s the ironic lack of availability with your time. You’re just desperate to get out yet you just keep spending all your time doing what it is that you’re trying to escape,” she said.

She ended up finding a different position at T-Mobile. “You know, there are good benefits and it’s easier to get a job when you have connections within the same company,” Laura said. “I did look outside the company and had some promising leads and then at one point I had the pleasure of competing offers. So, I stuck with T-Mobile and I’m glad I did.”