Ep 20: Being laid off & the life after (Ft Livia, Ex Meta employee)

Published on Dec 23, 2022

Cheryl  00:02

Amidst market turmoil, a looming recession and the Russia Ukraine war, the number of global tech layoffs has been rising at an alarming rate. These layoffs are also hitting really close to home. Singaporean employees are getting axed from top tech companies such as Microsoft, Twitter and Meta. This year alone, we have already seen 850 tech companies laying off a total of 136,000 employees so far, and this number has been rising gradually across the months. My name is Cheryl, and welcome to the Handful of Leaves podcast, and we speak to Livia today on the topic of layoffs. Livia was an ex- Meta Diversity Programme Specialist, and is one of the 11,000 people who are impacted by the layoffs in meta globally. I will be speaking to her about her experience, what has she learned throughout this entire layoff journey, and how can others take care of themselves in an uncertain job climate. And of course, how can you be a helping hand to friends and others experiencing a tough situation like this.

Cheryl  01:12

 Hi Livia. Welcome to the podcast.

Livia Lee  01:16

Hi, Cheryl.

Cheryl  01:17

Being laid off is something that not many people are proud to have as a badge of honour. I mean, if you see LinkedIn, everyone is talking about how they get promoted, how they move on to the next amazing project. But when it comes to something like layoffs, you know, it’s very, very difficult. Not many people are very brave to share about it. So thanks. And I think we can speak a little bit more about your experience, especially because you experienced it firsthand. So maybe tell us, how did you find out? When did you find out that you were going to be laid off?

Livia  Lee 01:47

I actually have a couple of thoughts on this. I think LinkedIn has changed. I think this whole layoff experience has actually changed LinkedIn, right? Like LinkedIn used to be the place where people only share positive news and people only share, “Hey, you know, I got promoted,” “Hey, I got this new certification,”. But I actually liked the fact that people are being a lot more honest. On LinkedIn these days, I feel like being laid off is no longer like you say, it is no longer a badge of shame. And there’s a lot more transparency and I actually really like how LinkedIn then becomes a source of support. As far as I have known, I’ve almost only known LinkedIn to be a positive influence. So many of my fellow friends, fellow colleagues, come on LinkedIn to talk about their layoff experience. And almost immediately there’s this like, massive, you know, show of support, love, people in the extended network and past colleagues coming on saying,” I’m so sorry to hear this, how can I help? So yeah, I actually think LinkedIn has been actually a very, very supportive tool.

Cheryl  02:54

I agree. I do see a lot of encouraging posts online as well, where managers are just advocating for the good people in the team. Just very happy to share even though they’re, they’re in challenging spaces. Tell us a little bit more about your your experience of being laid off.

Livia Lee 03:11

Let me be honest, right, no layoff experience is pleasant. Let’s just be honest about that. I would say that my layoff experience is maybe a little bit different from most other people’s because, first of all, I sit in the recruiting team. And a lot of times recruiting tends to have an early sense for these things. Because we are closer to growth headcount, and when budgets are tight, and costs cutting becomes a priority, recruiting headcount has to be one of the first few that will be pulled back.  We’ve known that something’s up for many months. And, of course, that ties up together with a company’s financial situation, which, you know, of course, we report quarterly. But I think for the Meta layoffs, specifically, there was a big leak in the Wall Street Journal four days before it actually happened. I woke up on a Monday morning to this big news. To some extent, you know, we knew that it might come, we knew that there was a high likelihood it will come, we just didn’t know when or we didn’t know how deep.

Livia Lee  04:47

I think when this was leaked in the Wall Street Journal, there were rumors at the time, on whether it was 11%or 10% headcount? Of course, we knew it will come to us, you know, and so it was a very tumultuous time. I did need Monday to myself to, you know, just get through my own emotions.

Cheryl  05:10

Monday was the day that you heard of the leak?

Livia Lee 05:15

Yes, Monday of that week, it was on The Wall Street Journal then, of course, the news came through on many different other news channels. Tuesday, Wednesday, I made it a point to go into the office. I think that was actually very helpful to be able to be there in person with some of my fellow colleagues and teammates.

Livia Lee 05:37

I would say that, there’s probably three big factors that, you know, affects how a person experiences layoff.

  1. How the company executed it.
  2. Whether your manager has prepared you if they even can.
  3. How your team responds.

And I think the third, for me was very important, because I think it helped to have people around me, who didn’t necessarily take a very big doom and gloom response of the situation. I think in a team where a lot of us felt, you know, come what may (and appreciating that) it’s been a good run. So I think there was a lot of the approach that we had. And in fact, nobody really knows what’s going to happen. Some of us sat together, and we were making semi-serious jokes about, you know, what would you do afterwards? And I think some of us were talking about, now I can go and start that business that I always wanted to do, or I can go, you know, pursue that, like property agents certification, you know, hey, that markets going well. You know, my childhood dream was going to be a window washer.

Cheryl  07:00

Window washer, the one that is like Spiderman.

Livia  Lee 07:02

Yeah, you know, It’s fun to look into, like office windows and to teach people and to wave and, you know, surprise them in meetings. It’s fun, you know. I always wanted to be a grocery clerk, you know, go to NTUC and help people to pack groceries. And I always thought that was that was a fun job. You know, those those sorts of things. I think a little bit of human never hurts. And I think there were some jokes about how, “Oh, my card doesn’t work on the printer. That it, my system access is locked in. I’m out.”

Livia Lee  07:40

But I think it was definitely also big pockets of sadness, for sure. There were teams that got together and people were crying. People were hugging people, coming in and clearing the desks. Like, I’m not even kidding. I think that’s to the extent that we knew that this was going to hit our organisation hard. It was hard because being in APAC working for a US company, we may not get the news at the same time as other regions do. So turned out that our region had to wait a full 12 hours, before we were going to get our news, and that was going to come to us at 6am on Thursday. On Thursday morning, we had no idea what time, but about six I got my email. And yeah, you know, fortunately, by the time, we had set up our various respective team Whatsapp group chats to stay connected.

The first emotion I felt was actually gratitude. And so pretty much the moment I knew, you know, my first text was in the group chat was, you know I’m really, really grateful to have been able to work with such an amazing team.

Cheryl  08:53

Wait, so just to check that gratitude is not like corporate BS, but something that you really mean?

Livia Lee  09:00

I’m sure that sometimes it’s corporate BS. I’m blessed that at least, you know, I think in Meta and our organisation, the people that we have been able to work with are really truly amazing. Like, I could not have asked for a better team, or a better manager. And, yeah, teams are really, really close where I was. And that’s actually what made it hard, because it really felt like the disbanding of family. Honestly, I think even now, it’s been more than 30 days, a lot of us are still in touch, you know, sharing job opportunities. Even now, yes, a lot of people are still looking for a job, even especially the ones that need it.

And yes, we think the general sentiment is, the saddest part is that we know that it will be difficult to find that kind of family feeling again, finding those teammates that are so supportive of you your work and who are really invested in you being successful and that was so collaborative. That type of environment was very unique to the culture that we have built in our organisation. And it’s, you know, it’s kudos to the leaders. But of course, it makes it even harder, you know, when so many of us are let go. In our organisation, it was definitely the majority was let go.

Cheryl  10:22

I find it very beautiful, because even in the lead up to the day that you got laid off itself, there have been so many different kinds of emotions that were present, even from the jokes that you were telling, some people were using maybe the, dark humour, you know, they kind of jokes as a coping mechanism, perhaps to cope with how they’re feeling. And it’s complicated, because first, you didn’t hear it from your manager first. You hear it from a leaked article. So that is bound to give you a little bit of feelings as well.

But what bubbled up was gratitude. And I can really see even from your eyes when you’re speaking, you’re just really like, kind of remembering very fondly of how precious the team was, as well as how you know you are not able to easily find it in any other organisation as well. And actually, even till this day, because I do have a lot of friends as well who are impacted by this. I see on their IGs, the colleagues continue to be a very, very strong support system for them that they hang out with each other to go through this.

Livia Lee  11:26

Yeah, I actually think I almost think it’s a blessing that happened en masse, because it means that we can be there for each other. One of the first things that happened was, you know, when we all of course, had access to each other’s contact, a lot of WhatsApp group chats were set up. And so those actually become a very strong source of support. A lot of post events, or post layoff questions and uncertainties can be verified there.

Livia Lee  11:59

I mentioned the three factors, right, that I guess, affect a person’s level of experience. And although I think first of all, we are very blessed that our severance was generous, and I definitely am grateful for that. It helps, especially for those with families to feed.

But of course, I think there are a lot of additional measures that will impact people who are in a less certain situation. So for example, I am local. So thankfully, I don’t have to worry about my ability to stay in the country. But I have many, of course, many other friends and colleagues who are on working visas. And whether it’s an employment pass or a different type of pass, then the next question is, well, how is the company able to support thankfully, for our company,they did have government support. For instance, for an employment pass. Once that’s ended, you only have 30 days to find another job. I think fortunately, in our situation, the will be converted to a short term visit paths. And that will actually extend another 90 days for them to be looking for a job after your last day of employment. But, then the next catch is that a lot of this is happening over the Christmas period.

Cheryl  13:14

Most companies are not hiring.

Livia Lee  13:17

Most companies are not hiring towards the year end. B. This is the time when a lot of people want to go home and see their families on a short term visit pass on a single entry visa, basically, you can’t come back, you know, it wouldn’t be granted. This means a lot of people have to stay in the country. And you know, of course, prioritise your job search, right, and the market is saturated with laid off talent. It’s not ideal, but you know, at this point, any kind of support helps. Yes, then there are a lot of you know, logistical questions, you know, benefits questions, a lot of those things. So, again, having everyone around you helps, you know, because then we can do things like collect questions, we can do things like share responses. So, yeah, it’s definitely been very, very helpful.

Cheryl  14:07

And I think the thing with also having a group of people in a mass layoff is that it helps a little bit, I guess, in not taking things personally, for example, like if you’re fired, then it could be very much obviously, because of my performance. But in this case, where you see even the top talents are also being let go, it really helps you to, I guess, cope a little bit better. Knowing that this is something that is not personal to you your identity or your performance.

Livia Lee  14:37

Yes, definitely. The first few days were definitely the hardest, although there, there are all these lists circulating for you to voluntarily put in your information but you really only know who are the people you care about that are impacted by reaching out directly or by word of mouth.

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Livia Lee  14:55

I guess the hard part of that is that it does become tiring, I won’t deny. And I think for me, for example, I’m a borderline extrovert introvert, and I do get energised from the people around me. Whereas, I do have other friends and colleagues were impacted, who honestly felt WhatsApp fatigue setting in very, very fast. And it does become tricky for them when you know everyone responds to a layoff differently.

Livia Lee  15:39

First of all, there is definitely denial in a lot of cases, and not everyone is ready to share externally that, “yes, I was one of the many who was laid off. Yes, I need help.” And a lot of people don’t know what to say and don’t know how to respond to all these very, very kind messages.

When someone reaches out to you with a genuine message of you know, how are you? Are you okay? Are you really going to reply to them saying, “No, I’m a nervous wreck. I’m like, you know, on my floor, crying because I don’t know, I just lost my job. I don’t know if I can keep my rent. I don’t know if I can stay in the country, I don’t know how I can support my family?”

What are you really going to say?

Cheryl  16:17

Yeah, because when we talk about work, it seems like it’s just one aspect. But to many, many people, work is the anchor for so many other things. It gives people the freedom to pursue what they are passionate about on the side, it helps with the family, paying off bills, and for some, it’s even the identity for them. It is their entire self esteem that is built around it. So definitely I can understand when you when you mentioned everybody takes it differently and hits home very, very differently as well for every single person.

Just out of curiosity as well. Where do you place work in your life? And how does it tie in with your personal identity?

Livia Lee  16:57

Deep question. I’m gonna have to think about this one. I think it’s a huge part of really, I think not just my own, but you know a lot of other people’s identities. Frankly speaking, a lot of us spend at least nine hours at work, if you’re in a full-time job. Yeah. So I think work going well, has a very, very big bearing on you know, your own mental overall mental mental wellness and mental health. And I guess your overall happiness as well. I’ve noticed myself that when things go well at work, I’m actually better equipped to deal with difficult things that (other aspects of) life will throw at you. For instance, I’m in a better position to be there for other people as well, when work is going well for me. And on the flip side, you know, when the work or career situation is not going well, it really becomes challenging too. For instance, I know that my ex and I used to argue a lot when either one of us was unemployed. And once, even both of us, that was not great.

Cheryl  18:18

So it almost seems like how work goes is like the foundation of how you show up in other aspects of life?

Livia Lee  18:26

Yes, I think so. And sometimes I actually think that you could see it the other way around where you know, your own mental state will affect how you how you view and how you respond to your job and your work. Honestly speaking, if you have a crappy boss, if you have unsupportive stakeholders, and you’ve got so many obstacles being thrown at you, there’s only some extent to which you can say, “Oh, let me be Zen about it.”

Cheryl  18:54

Yeah, 100% Yeah.

Livia Lee  18:56

So I think when you have exciting challenges at work, you know, when you’re thriving, you know, when you have good colleagues that did that you can work with, it really puts you in a better space, just overall in life.

Cheryl  19:11

But I think that is also very scary, right? Because then your happiness or your balance, your Zen-ness is very dependent on these external factors. And these external factors are always changing. So it’s almost as though you’re anchoring your happiness on a very unstable leaf that is constantly shaking.

Livia Lee  19:32

What an analogy.

I would agree with you only now because I’m out of a job but you know, it’s not necessarily true. You know, there are a lot of people in very, very stable careers, you know, I think, in the government, for example, here we will call it a steel rice bowl, right? Because that’s where people sign up for, that stability. People sign up for that kind of, you know, being part of a big organisational structure that will allow you to put food on the table no matter what happens.

Cheryl  20:01

But is that ever guaranteed? Nothing can ever be guaranteed, right? What if, what if there’s a war that breaks out in Singapore? You can say, Yes, I join it for 90% certainty, but there’s always that 10% or 1% uncertainty that is bound to happen, because that is just how life is right?

Livia Lee  20:21

And I think that’s where, you know, Bruce Lee says, be like water. You just kind of have to go with what life throws at you, right. But I think that there are really a lot of people who conscientiously carve their career path, to give themselves that certainty. And similarly, on the other side, you know, you have, for instance, serial entrepreneurs who choose risk, and who choose the ability to take those big bold steps all the time, and may make big risky investments, because of the epic returns.

Yes, you are, right, we do peg a lot of our life to this big external factor of work.

Livia Lee  20:59

And that’s where I actually always say when it comes to planning your career, being conscientous about how you carve that out, and how you plan your next steps. One of the books that I actually really, really love, it’s actually called Designing Your Life by two Stanford University professors, and it was something that really, really helped me, because it really allows you to apply design thinking, or design principles to your career.

Livia Lee  21:32

One of them is things like, you know, being able to develop blueprints to experiment before you really plunge into something to fit in. And part of that is, for instance, laying out, say, right now, in exactly where you are, in this moment, if you were to develop three brand new five year plans ahead of you, what would they look like?

It could be continuing a corporate job, it could be starting this new business or dream that you always wanted to pursue, or it could be something else entirely. And I actually think this is a very, very good time, especially for those who are laid off to really take that step back, because we almost have a forced pause. And I guess, what is the best way to make use of this forced pause, right, is to really take the chance to reevaluate, what you’re going to do next? And how is that going to allow you to invest in your future self?

Cheryl  22:31

And how has that looked for you with the nine to 12 hours being taken away, right, like time that you could be occupied at work? Now, you just have this void there.

How has things changed for you? And how are you reevaluating your priorities? Or do you already know them?

Livia Lee  22:47

First thing I did when I knew what was gonna happen was to craft for myself a 3 day plan, a one week, to help me determine what do I want to achieve in the first three days or the first one week or the first month?

And part of that involved A, you know, of course, you know, writing all my LinkedIn recommendations and thanks and all these things. But of course, part of that was also to evaluate my options. Within my first week, I wanted to know what those options could be. And within my first month, I wanted to be able to have done the research to evaluate, to elaborate a little further on those options. One of the big options that I’m leaning towards right now is to really take the time to go into my masters. And I know that a lot of people don’t have that luxury or that option. Because, of course, then pursuing your next full time job is is a big priority for a lot of people for sure, out of necessity.

Livia Lee  23:49

There are other people who actually might, you know, want to spend more time with family and then start to go into part time options and things like that. But for me, I never had a concrete certification in my area of work. That means, you know, HR and anything related, and I actually did think that this is a good time for me to pursue that. Especially because right now the market is maybe not in a great space. So hopefully in the next you know, 12 to 18 months, this will allow me to know to really give me a better grounding for my next hopefully 10 to 20 years of my career.

Honestly, this just becomes a big undertaking too, to sit down and really evaluate all your different options locally, regionally and globally. You know, what is financially prudent and what is literally safe as a female Asian, considering living abroad, like what are the safe options and looking up, you know, gun laws in different states and all these things. All of that comes into the picture, right?

Cheryl  25:01

So I feel that, you know, what you have mentioned seems very daunting, very overwhelming. There’s so many considerations that you have to think about, you have to dig deep and ask yourself the questions, identify what your priorities are. Were there any questions that helped you immensely in your self reflection, to decide what the next steps could look like? Or make things a little bit clearer now that you’re in this forced pause moment in your life?

Livia Lee  25:28

Yes. Number one, what are my new priorities? What are they going to look like?

First of all, can I afford the time? Can I afford the money to go into, you know, pursue further education? What is that going to mean for my family? And how much time can I afford to be away? For example, should I pursue a full time or part time? And what is that going to mean financially? What is it going to mean for, again, for my family? Where can I do it? Or where do I need to do it? Do I even have the option to do it outside of Singapore.

Livia Lee  25:28

But over and above this whole studying piece, it’s been a really good time. It’s allowed me to pursue different things. For example, I started rock climbing for the first time.

Cheryl  26:14

I didn’t know you started it for the first time.

Livia Lee  26:16

Yeah, I never have. And now I could actually say yes to social activities or different sorts of, you know, workout options, that, you know, people might have invited me on, but I never really had the time to go for. I realised that it changed the way I relate to my friends. I do now actually have a lot more time to spend with the people who are important to me. I’m actually in the headspace to really pay them 150% attention because my head is not like cluttered with all the things that are pressing at work.

Furthermore, I think this is actually a time when my family has decided “hey, why don’t we actually explore during that renovation that we wanted to do 10 years ago, when we never did.” Maybe some of the things that we wanted to do, right, when we were really, really busy, but you just never really had the time or attention to do it. And now you can afford the energy.

Cheryl  27:08

I think from your sharing, I got two points. And I thought it was very, very interesting. So the first is that I really liked the term that you use – “forced pause.” And I feel it’s so crucial, because a lot of times, we are busy, and we take pride in being busy, and that can actually be a coping mechanism for us to choose the path of certainty and a path of stability.

Sometimes what you really want, what your heart truly desires is something that maybe is very scary, and it feels very fearful. So you just kind of push it away, push it away and use “busy” as a justification or excuse to, you know, not face it. But now that you have the forced pause, all these things come up, and you actually think about it as like not too bad of an idea to consider this path. Precisely because you don’t have anything to lose, it opens up so many more things for you (to try).

Livia Lee  28:02

Absolutely. Like, I know, your listeners can hear me nodding like crazy at every word. I think the opening up of a lot of options is actually what surprised me. Because, you know, you may feel like you have a void or vacuum to fill. And honestly, it’s actually very easy to get busy doing not much. I think you choose your path, right? Sort of like a jigsaw puzzle, right? The different pieces that you can bring into your world and the analogy of filling your jar with the big rocks. You choose carefully the big rocks that you put into your life right now and it can actually be very, very fulfilling too.

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Cheryl  28:41

For me, it’s really helpful, especially when you say that there are different parts of you that are important and meaningful to you that starts to become a little bit more obvious. And why that’s meaningful to me is because I think for me, I’m pretty much a very black or white person at some times. So for me, it’s either you have work, or you have no work, life is great or life is shit. It’s comforting to find out that when there’s no work, there’s other things that will still make life a little bit better and your life is not complete shit.

Livia Lee  29:17

Oh, yeah, I mean, friends, family, physical health and nutrition. You’re right, like the forced pause of being laid off actually forces you to realise or turn to all these other areas of.

Cheryl  29:31

Absolutely. And I also wanted to share something that you reminded me of, which is there’s this Sutta called the Salattha Sutta, which is basically meaning like the two arrows discourse and it’s very interesting. So, the Buddha compared two people right, so one who constantly reflects on the nature of impermanence, the nature of life, as you know something that is very impermanent, things are always changing, and one person who doesn’t reflect on any of this.

Cheryl  30:01

So both of them will get hit with one arrow, because that’s just the nature of life. That is the arrow of suffering, the kind of suffering that is, you know, when you age, when you grow old, you have sickness, or just the suffering of not getting what you want, or getting the things that you want, separated from you. So this is the nature of life, and both these kinds of people will get the same first arrow.

Cheryl  30:28

But the person who doesn’t reflect, the person who doesn’t understand that this is the way things are, they will get hit by the second arrow. And the second arrow is where in layman’s term is more like “you complain lah, you you just kind of sit in your shit for a while.” But like in nicer terms is called like sorrow, you have lamentation and you have pain that adds on as a second level of pain.

Cheryl  30:51

So the Buddha did share that whenever we are in these kind of situations where things don’t go the way we want, reflect that these are just part of life. And sometimes we just gotta accept it.

Very interestingly, I think he also did share these 8 things in life that is very subjective to the nature of change, the nature of like, coming and goings. These eight wins, which are in pairs: pain and pleasure, gain and loss, status and disgrace, praise and blame. So when you get gain, when you get praise, you don’t delight too much. And when you have loss, you have disgrace, you have blame, you know, that’s just something that will go away, too.

So I just thought to share that, as I think how we naturally tend to react in all sorts of emotions (due to these winds blowing in all directions) is as per the second arrow. But in your case, I do see how you really in a way rise through it and really see the good, see the silver lining, and allow for pockets of new things to just come up to you and surprise you in a way.

Livia Lee  31:50

So sweet of you here, Cheryl. I love those analogies. And to be fair, I would say that the first thing is part of getting through the hard part is not fighting it. Yes, absolutely, don’t allow yourself to continue and, you know, being hit by the second arrow to like dwell on that pain.

But I think part of not dwelling, is actually not denying it in the first place. I think that’s the hard part. And one of the very important parts of, you know, grief, (because frankly speaking this is like mass trauma). There’s like, literally news delivered overnight typically in an email, that even if it’s written as nicely as possible – it is still a difficult email to receive. Especially in Asia, one of the things that we tend to do is to hide or to deny our emotions. And I actually saw that in a lot of the responses that I got from people, right, which was, “how are you, hope you’re okay? Here’s, here’s a job opportunity, send a link.”

Livia Lee  34:44

One of my first big emotional releases was when I first received the message from someone who was still in the company and was feeling immense guilt, and her message to me was, “Hey, I saw that your profile is deactivated, this was so upsetting. I’m angry, I’m frustrated, this should not happen to you…” She gushed on and on about our partnership and how she enjoyed working with me and how she felt. It was her ability to name the way she felt about the whole situation that really had an impact on me that I was very surprised by. Being able to name her emotions allowed me to look at mine, and say, you know she’s right, I’m frustrated and I’m angry too and that was all bittersweet, and that was the first time I cried. And that was 3-4 days later. I feel that release was important.

Being able to see that for yourself and not deny the complexity of your emotions allowed me to move on from what you call the shithole, which the cesspool of negative emotions.

 It was confusing for alot of people, the hard part is first identifying what you’re going through and not allowing it to be a pity party, and embracing the opportunity and the silver lining for sure. I think part of it also involves looking at it face on, and not saying “Oh, I can’t afford to feel all the negative emotions, and focus on being productive or happy.

Cheryl  34:49

or being grateful only.

Livia Lee  35:04

That becomes toxic positivity. That’s also not great.

Cheryl  35:07

Yeah. 100%. Yeah.

Livia Lee  35:09

But yeah. And then, like you said, all the elements are true of the human condition. Right. And, you know, it’s not healthy to be stuck only the negative portion. But it also isn’t healthy to be stuck on, you know, all the positive parts of things, because that’s who we are. Right?

Cheryl  35:26

Yeah, yeah, that’s not the nature of life. If you only pretend to see the bright side, you have to embrace both the dark and the bright side, and that makes you a full-fledged human.

Livia Lee  35:35

That also allows you to be honest with yourself. And that’s honestly difficult. So I actually appreciate when sometimes I meet with, you know, some of us who are laid off, some people operate better in a group, some people operate better one to one, I think the hard part is really knowing what you need. Now, honestly, I think those who need support are not only the ones who are laid off, but even the ones who are not impacted.

Livia Lee  35:59

First of all, there’s so much uncertainty for my colleagues who are left behind. So many people have left, a lot of times even leaders have left. Suddenly, you don’t know who you’re reporting to, you don’t know the new division of work.

Cheryl  36:13

Some have no managers too.

Livia Lee  36:15

Some have no managers or skip levels, you don’t know what’s going to happen to the org, a lot of times restructuring follows. And you don’t know what the new responsibilities will be, you know, towards the year end we don’t know how to do our year end planning. And so there’s a lot of uncertainty for the ones left behind.

Livia Lee  36:37

I’m actually curious to hear from you, you know, like, for for you. And you know, so many people in the industry around you who have been laid off, like, how does that make you feel?

Cheryl  36:46

I definitely do feel the anxiety at the back of my head, like subconsciously. But at the same time, I feel that I have things to do right now. And I will just put my attention there, because this is something that is way out of my control. If it happens, it will happen. If it doesn’t happen, maybe it will happen couple of years later, who knows, right? Like layoffs are part of just the working life. And even if it’s not laid off, maybe you get fired, or whatever. Any kind of worst case scenarios could always happen. So I think I’ve just resorted to just not wanting to put my time and effort into thinking about it. Because one, it is anxiety inducing for me and I don’t cope very well with a lot of anxiety.

Second, I do have my hands quite busy with a lot of things at work, so I will just take it one step at a time. Yeah, and I do definitely resonate with having colleagues who are open and you know, talking about this as well.

Cheryl  37:42

 It helps you to feel less alone, and it helps you feel like we’re in this together, if we are in trouble, we are kind of in trouble together. You know, like, like a bunch of like naughty kids getting punished together. It feels a little bit better. Yeah, so yeah, that’s my experience. I don’t know maybe one year later, I talk to you. I’ll be like, what, I can’t imagine I was a recruiter.

Livia Lee  38:08

Yeah. And you’ll be telling me you’re in a much better place now doing one.

Cheryl  38:12

Eh please don’t throw shade. Some of my colleagues, listen to this. Kidding kidding. I love all my colleagues.

Livia Lee  38:23

Oh, no, but you’re absolutely right. Like, it’s there’s no point dwelling on something that is unsettling. You know, yeah, there’s no point being unnecessarily anxious or worrying about it unnecessarily. Right. That being said, if I think back to before we even knew about the layoff, one of the things that was helpful for me, was to just have a backup plan in place.

Livia Lee  38:50

The recruiting organisation tends to have a lot of foresight into what might come. And so literally, it became sort of dinner table or lunch table talk, right? Which was,” hey, you know, if this happens, what will you do?” Like you, (hopefully not like you), but up until the very last day, I too, was super, super busy.  And I think one of the things that helped me to focus 100% and to continue to give my full time attention and energy at work was to know that in the back of my plan, I have a backup plan that I’m very happy with and that I can put in place at any moment. Of course, things have changed and my backup plan isn’t the same now. At that point, what I thought it would be my backup plan was to literally give myself a very well deserved break, you know, go off to one of my favourite Southeast Asian countries and go go go hike, go to different temple every day and you know, go

Cheryl  39:54

Sounds like Thailand already.

Livia Lee  39:56

You know. Of course You know, my initial plan involves, like, you know, weeks and weeks of doing this in my own little like, Zen hiding hole. What has actually happened, of course, has transpired very differently. But that is still, you know, part of like my travel plans in January.  I think just having that plan that made me comfortable, and emotionally happy, and it was something that I could think of, or even semi look forward to, you know, gave me that peace of mind.

Livia Lee  40:27

And, of course, the next thing that I could look forward to us,  if all goes well, this is what will happen. This is my work plan, you know, after I’m busy with like this big events, then these are all the new programmes and initiatives, I can focus on getting stuck into, like plannings, where I can look forward to at work in the following year, and all of that. So, if you give yourself kind of two bright, paths look forward to right, whether you’re laid off or whether you’re not laid off, right, it doesn’t matter what happens, then you have something to look forward to.

Cheryl  40:59

That’s actually very important, because I tend to just avoid it and not think about it and just like, hope it doesn’t happen. So yeah, I think it’s good to anchor and build some sort of certainty almost, when I have like, at least a rough plan of the two best and worst case scenarios.

Cheryl  41:17

Yeah, so that’s good advice. Thanks for sharing it because I think this is also probably very relevant for everyone. I mean, it’s just not great times for a lot of different industries. For everyone who’s facing a potential layoff or have fears that they may be laid off soon. For all the listeners. Thank you for listening to the end of our podcast today with Livia and thank you so much, Livia, for coming out and sharing your personal experience, your stories, your learnings. And if anyone wants to get in touch with Livia, feel free to reach out to her LinkedIn, we’re putting a link at the bottom. And if you liked the podcast, give us a five star review. And may you stay happy and wise. Thank you

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