One psychiatrist is urging employers not to suddenly terminate employees’ contracts without making an effort to prepare them for the traumatic, life changing experience of being sent home.
With hundreds of public sector workers being retrenched and the private sector also sending home employees, Dr Ermine Belle, said job loss can have major psychological effects on individuals, particularly those who do not know how to cope.
She said this is why it is important that the termination process is done in a sensitive and thorough manner.
“We know what can happen. Let us not go into a state of denial or pretense. So if we know that we are on the cards for people going home in the next two weeks, then, why not pre-empt the situation by having a seminar, or a conference where you sit people down and say to them, ‘this is what is projected, so we want to discuss with you, what are your feelings and how you are thinking that you will go forward if you are one of those persons going home’.
“So right there and then, good constructive information is given from even the persons who are sitting in front of you, not only the persons running the seminar, to help to ease people into a situation where they are going to experience a major loss,” Dr Belle told Barbados TODAY during an exclusive interview where she spoke about the psychological impact retrenchment can have on an individual.
Not commenting directly on the state of Barbados’ economy, Dr Belle said though people were being told the present retrenchment exercise is unavoidable, nobody wanted to be the one to be cut.
She said some workers who are still employed may choose to pretend they are not going to be touched.
“You tend to be of the mindset, ‘let us hope and pray that it wouldn’t be me’. But then it is me.” Dr Belle said.
“Like any other loss, it is something that you are going to mourn. So you are going to do the things that people who mourn do. You are going to cry. You are going to get upset. You are going to feel like this is the end of the world. But, thank goodness, most people have a bit of resilience, so they can start thinking of how to reorganize,” the psychiatrist said.
Following that period of grief, anger, and frustration, Dr Belle said the average person would then explore their possibilities and opportunities.
“The whole thing is that we have to be sensitive to the fact that these situations can cause different reactions in different people. We have to be there with a safety net. A situation not meaning dollars and cents necessarily, but support,” Dr Belle said.
The psychiatrist said at this time in the nation’s history, Barbadians had to become their brother’s keeper once again.
She said those who have not been laid off should reach out to any retrenched worker they know and offer them support.
“Not everybody has the energy to get up and say, ‘let me be an entrepreneur tomorrow. Not everybody has the skill to get up and be an entrepreneur. People will need guidance, people will need assistance. firstname.lastname@example.org