"Job loss is a tremendous change in one’s life. Especially if
unwanted, such a blow to one’s self-esteem and sense of
self-worth can even trigger thoughts of suicide.”
-Paul Quinnett, Ph.D.,
Founder & CEO, QPR Institute
Job Loss Need Not Be Humiliating
-Carolyn V. Coarsey, Ph.D.
In his early twenties, Charles was hired by a major corporation in a junior
executive role. He rose quickly in the firm and during several decades with
the organization he survived many changes and more than one downsizing
and restructuring of the corporation. His work life was rich with friends
who felt like family and Charles’ life was very full with travel and
ever-increasing responsibility and perks, as the company grew.
As Charles entered the early years of his 6th decade, he began to discuss
with family and friends his plans for retirement. Having elderly parents with
the usual health issues associated with aging, he started to put in place a
plan for selling his home and moving to the area of the country where his
folks had retired. Charles felt good about being able to enjoy retirement
while looking after them. He started to get his plan together.
While Charles had not made his plans known to the management team,
he assumed that it would be no surprise. Once he had worked out the
details with his parents, he planned to sit with his boss and together
come up with the exact date of his retirement. Charles was willing to
spend as much time as needed to help train his replacement. He
remained productive as he continued to get his plans in order.
"If education is the salvation of mankind, on what day will we
seriously apply its powers to the prevention of suicide?"
-Paul Quinnett, Ph.D.,
Founder & CEO, QPR Institute
A discussion about a mutually agreed upon date for Charles’ retirement
never came nor were there any plans made for a retirement dinner and
the rituals associated with the retirement of a senior employee of the
company. Before Charles had the opportunity to discuss his preferences
for an exact retirement date, he was called into an executive’s office.
He was told to clear out his desk as this was his last day at work. There
was no discussion of problems in work performance or anything to help
Charles understand his sudden dismissal—outside of the fact that a
younger man had been hired to take over his job immediately.
Word traveled with the speed of light throughout the corporation. His
closest friends who knew about his plans for retirement were as
shocked as Charles over the sudden demise of Charles’ corporate life.
Because Charles knew nothing about any problems with his work
performance, he had nothing to tell anyone about a reason for why
he was suddenly terminated.
None of Charles’ friends could understand why Charles was not
provided an opportunity to participate in his exit from the corporation,
thereby saving face and leaving with good memories. The feelings of
humiliation at being summarily terminated without cause
overwhelmed him, he was forced to finish his career in shame. Friends
of Charles’ who worked with him shared his tears and devastation after
his termination and for many weeks following. Decision makers were
questioning if there was a chance Charles might take his life. Why did
leaders not think of this before handling Charles’ termination?
Fortunately, Charles’ friends helped him through the crisis.
Job loss is a tremendous change in one’s life, especially if unwanted.
Such a blow to one’s self-esteem and sense of self-worth can even
trigger thoughts of suicide. In Charles’ case, the termination was
going to be a reality. After decades of loyal service, a compassionate
process could have mitigated Charles’ suffering and made his
transition to the next chapter in his life much easier. It is a testament
to Charles and his support systems that he could live through the
shock and humiliation of the way the corporate leaders dealt with
the end of his career.
QPR stands for Question, Persuade and Refer and is a research-based
intervention that anyone can learn. The Foundation works with the QPR
Institute to customize this successful intervention for cruise lines,
aviation, human resources professionals and other workplace groups.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org at the Foundation if you would
like to know more about how you can learn to be a QPR Gatekeeper in your
organization. You can also learn how you can become a certified trainer
of the QPR Gatekeeper model. Contact the Foundation to discuss your
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