Discarded and Demoralized

IT workers who have been victimized by layoffs say their dismissals have left long-lasting emotional and professional scars.

As IT director at a small oil services company in Oklahoma City from 2001 to 2003, Steven Nash was a jack-of-all-trades. He first joined the company as its only IT employee, doing everything from managing Web servers to troubleshooting PCs for 25 to 30 people.

As the firm grew, it entered into a couple of joint-venture projects with larger companies and added staff to handle the extra work, including a few more IT employees. But when the two projects fell through, the oil services company found itself with more workers than it needed.

Discarded and Demoralized

Image Credit: Pierre MornetNash went to work on a Monday in August 2003 and was given a strong annual performance review by his supervisor, who also recommended him for a raise. Two hours later, Nash met with the same supervisor, the president of the company and the head of human resources, who collectively informed him that he and seven other employees, including other members of the IT staff, were being let go.

The layoff "came as quite a shock," says Nash, who subsequently did contract work before landing a job as a field training coordinator at an energy company about 18 months ago. It also came at a tough time. Nash's wife wasn't working, and with three children, they had trouble making ends meet. Plus, widespread layoffs at WorldCom and other employers in Oklahoma City and Tulsa had left a glut of highly skilled IT professionals in the local market.

During the 18 months that Nash worked as a contractor, he earned $10,000 less than he had with the oil services company, and the financial strain took its toll. "My wife and I almost went through a divorce," says Nash. "I began to doubt my ability to find another full-time job."

Steven Nash, field training coordinator, on his layoff experience

Steven Nash, field training coordinator, on his layoff experienceFortunately, Nash's church congregation provided his family with food for six to eight months. That left Nash with enough money to pay the rent. Meanwhile, his in-laws pitched in for clothing and other expenses.

Nash has since bounced back, and he's grateful for the support that he and his family received from relatives and friends. But the layoff has left a mark on his life, both from a personal and a professional standpoint.

"I can't say I'm completely over it," Nash says. During his probationary period at his new company last year, he kept looking over his shoulder, waiting for the ax to fall. After Nash made it through those first 90 days, his new boss told him he needed to relax.

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