When a loved one’s pay takes a hit

Author: Kate Cross

Losing a job is a real kick in the guts, and not just financially. So when someone you love loses theirs, has their pay cut or gets demoted, how do you comfort them? What signs of struggle should you look out for and just how much stress is the blow they’ve been dealt going to cause your relationship?


Career Coach Leah Lambart says that when a person loses a job, they are likely to “experience a range of emotions, including anger, resentment, frustration, grief and fear” which can put pressure on those around them.


The person might pick fights, drink or even spend more, adds Certified Behavioural Money Coach, Financial Planner and Accountant Natasha Janssens


“Money is closely linked to our survival,” explains Ms Janssens, “so we tend to have a strong stress response to any financial challenge, especially to something like job loss”. 


“We … strongly associate our net-worth with our self-worth, so job loss or a demotion can easily have a negative impact on our self-esteem,” she adds.


Reactions do, of course, vary.


Ms Lambart says those who are adaptable and flexible are likely to cope better than those who are rigid and planned, both professionally and personally.


So how do you know if your loved one isn’t coping well?


Clinical Psychologist Dr Kylie Henderson says there are red flags.


“A change in their behaviour to the way they usually would behave is the first sign,” she says.


“Withdrawing more than usual, sleeping longer, [being] less active than usual, eating or drinking more than normal, physical complaints and headaches more than usual are all signs,” she adds.


Being their rock


When it comes to supporting your loved, here are what the experts suggest:


  • Reassure them they aren’t alone – Don’t assign blame; instead, reconfirm your commitment to the relationship, says Dr Henderson. “If you fear you are not good enough for a job, you often fear you are not good enough for relationships,” she says.

  • Offer some perspective – “Remind them regularly that it was their position that was stood down, not them,” says Ms Lambart.

  • Emphasise teamwork – Help your loved one identify their concerns (for example, financial worries) and work together to address them, says Ms Janssens.

  • Suggest they establish a routine – Rising at the same time each day and scheduling in activities helps instil a sense of purpose, says Ms Lambart. When the timing is right, she suggests encouraging your loved one to schedule daily career-related achievement-based activities, such as updating their resume, creating a LinkedIn profile and connecting with former colleagues. She also says it’s also important for them to make time for fun.

  • Encourage self-care and connection – This means encouraging them to connect with friends and family members, where possible, and take care of their health, says Ms Lambart.


“The job market is going to be tough post COVID-19 due to the larger volume of candidates in the market,” says Ms Lambart. “You will need to be your loved one’s greatest cheerleader to support them with their job search in what is going to be a very challenging period for the jobseeker,” she adds.




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