Ready or not, the pandemic is here and it has thrown us all into a cognitive tornado. COVID-19 has turned every one of our lives upside down. We are all being affected in some way and it is very challenging to navigate. From not wanting to share the same sidewalk with someone, to waiting a week for your grocery order, life as we know it has changed drastically. To add fuel to this challenging fire, people around us are being laid off. Putting a positive spin on this is rather challenging, but we can if we know how to look at the glass half full. The silver linings: many people are getting closer to their family, many are reconnecting with friends, people are spending way more quality time with their children, and people’s creative sides are coming out. The best part as well, as we can expect, people are helping others as best as they can – it is beautiful.
Speaking of helping others, let’s chat about layoffs. They are here, again, and in abundance. Some are permanent, some are temporary. Either way they are a left to the right punch of this crisis, and it is very challenging for many. So how can you be a great support to someone who is experiencing a layoff during this time?
- Acknowledge what has happened. If you as someone who has lost anything most will tell you that they appreciated when someone acknowledged them and what happened. They appreciated when they were not avoided and instead reached out to. They appreciated those who were concerned and not curious. Notes of encouragement. Listen, Pinterest didn’t just become Pinterest because someone was able to build the best capsule wardrobe. It was from motivation quotes, posts, etc. Capture some of them and send them daily to your friend. There are words in there which they will need to hear.
- Ask them what they feel you can do for them. Maybe they don’t need the amount of support you want to give. But also, maybe they need way more support than you can give. You must know your capacity too. Make sure to ask, only because it let’s you know how much you need to give and set expectations.
- Encourage them to make a to-do list. There are resources out there they can tap into to help ease some of their challenges, from mortgage relief to government funding. Assign them the task of looking into those resources and register now even if they don’t need it for a few months. That way they are on the list and doing something productive to alleviate their situation.
- Consult. There are many people who may need your help right now. Are you an accountant? Do your friend’s and family’s taxes. Get them to refer friends. Are you in Human Resources? Give some career advice to your friends. Are you in Communications? Freelance and write. So many websites need writers to push content out right now. The list is endless. Think outside the box.
- Set up a time to chat. With COVID-19, the number of posts about group chats is amazing. Using Skype, Facetime, WhatsApp, or Facebook Messenger to set up some face time with someone is smart. Book 30 – 60 minute sessions each week.
- Be self-aware. One of the best ways to help a friend is to be self-aware. Do you have the capacity to do this? Guilt is huge for many of us, and we must be careful that we are not overextending ourselves because we feel guilty. Know your limit, know your capacity, be self-aware of what you can give.
- Have them join a group. There are job search groups or support groups out there. Encourage them to join one. While misery loves company, most of these groups should be sticking to topics to get people to move forward and not focus on the current challenges.
- Make sure you have an outlet. Helping others can take a toll. Especially if you are on pins and needles in other areas of your life.
- Help them with their resume (when they are ready). This one is the hardest, most challenging tasks of a job search. Tackling this as soon as possible would be great, but will require support. Help them with this immediately.
- Have them think about temporary fixes. There are many front-line roles that are available right now. They are paying employees more because they need the bodies. Yes, this will be humbling, but it is something. For example, at retail stores, the cashiers will have screens up soon to protect them as they communicate with customers. Once these are up people will start to gravitate towards stores again. They will need more bodies. It’s scary, but it is an option if instant cash is needed.
It is unbelievably kind of you to read this article. It let’s you know that you care and that you want to help. But I also caution that you put up healthy boundaries during this time. You can help, but you are also going through your own challenges. Some people are in self-isolation in a house full of people they cannot even go near because they have a cold. How much help can you be? This crisis is a heavy toll on so many and that includes you. As long as you have taken care of your house and your mental health first, then can you be of assistance to someone else. So while you are being kind, be sure to be mindful of you. Make sure that you have the capacity and be transparent with your friend of what you know you can do. They will be thankful for even the smallest gesture.