It's a scenario that every worker dreads. You've been called into your supervisor's office, and you have a bad feeling about what's coming next. After a few moments, your suspicions are confirmed – you're either fired or laid off. That's that. Pack your stuff and leave.
Getting fired or laid off from a job never feels good. And while something like this could feel like a permanent black mark on your employment record, a newly released study by Airtasker suggests being laid off or fired might end up being a good thing.
The first thing to realize after you lose your job is that you're not alone. Of the 1,400 currently and formerly employed people surveyed in Airtasker's study, just 41.5% said they'd never been laid off. Conversely, 26.3% said they'd been laid off in the past, 15.1% said they'd been fired, and 17.1% said they'd experienced both.
According to the Airtasker study, most of the more than 800 respondents who reported having been fired before said conflicts in the workplace were mostly to blame. Approximately 30% said they were fired for personality conflicts, 23% said their "boss was a jerk," 19% blamed their firing on office politics, and 12% said upper management just didn't like them.
How respondents performed at their old jobs also played a part. Reasons reported include poor performance (18%), regularly showing up late (15%), making too many errors (6%) or breaking an office policy (6%). Budget issues (15%) and being underqualified (7%) were also cited as reasons.
While the respondents who said they'd been fired listed some of the reasons why they thought they'd been let go, just 42% said they'd deserved it.
Airtasker also surveyed employers and found a disconnect between their reasons for letting someone go and the reasons cited by employees. The top reasons that informed employers' decisions to let someone go were due to attitude issues (57%), personality conflicts (41%) and performance issues (40%).
People often talk about how being laid off or fired was a sudden event. The truth, however, is that there are usually telltale signs that indicate things are not going well at work.
The top three warning signs that people who'd been fired reported seeing in hindsight were that supervisors became more distant, they were given a formal or informal warning, and they weren't given as much work as usual. Other red flags included overhearing office gossip, their peers also became distant, and they were no longer included in meetings and emails.
People who'd been laid off, however, said the top signs of impending unemployment included being told the company was experiencing money problems and was implementing hiring freezes, they didn't receive as much work as usual, and they heard office gossip. An increase in closed-door meetings among supervisors, being given more work than usual and less communication between peers were also cited as potential red flags.
Unemployment is not the end
One of the biggest fears people have when losing a job is that the experience will hinder their careers. Of employees polled, 33% of respondents who'd been laid off and 60% of those who'd been fired feared their experiences would keep them from finding future employment. But does your being fired or let go mean you will start your job hunt on a back foot?
Not necessarily, according to the Airtasker survey. While roughly 80% of employers said they'd fired someone, 48% said they would consider rehiring that same individual. Conversely, only 33% of ex-employees said they would return to a job they'd been fired from in the past.
Furthermore, nearly 80% of employers said they would consider hiring someone who'd been fired from a previous job.
While finding yourself in between jobs is stressful, the survey found that respondents used the time in positive ways. While 68% of people said they relieved stress by searching for new jobs, and 48% said they spent time with their friends and family immediately following a job loss, others said they used their newfound free time to try other things. Approximately 29% of respondents said they started a side gig after being let go. Another 29% reported going back to school, while 21% said they started a business, and 20% said they took some time to travel.
When it came time to find a new job, 95% of people said they were able to do so, with 80% reportedly finding work in the first six months. Respondents also said their forced job hunt resulted in better pay, with 60% reporting bigger paychecks with their next employer. Roughly 21% said they were paid about the same, and 19% said they were paid less.
Looking back, 70% of people said they were grateful that they lost their job in the first place.