How to Move Past an Employer’s Betrayal

Question:

I was laid off last week, along with two other employees, without advance warning or severance. I received a pink slip at noon on Friday and was told I would be paid until the end of the day. Big whoop.

I worked for this man for three years. He told me I was his “right hand.” I gave him and his dental practice 110 percent. My efforts and those of the other two employees enabled his practice to survive the pandemic.

Despite my hard work and loyalty, I couldn’t convince him to address things that needed to change. When I told him my concerns, he assured me he wanted to do the “right thing” and would “get around” to making improvements. I believed him, but he never did. The problems stacked up and led to the downfall of his business.

On the one hand, he got what he deserved. On the other hand, what happened to his business, into which I poured my time and effort, broke my heart. As the former office manager, I feel partially responsible how hard being laid off without severance will be for my coworkers, both single mothers with kids. I wasn’t, however, given any more notice than they. This angers me, as I now realize this is the reason he began having confidential meetings with our company attorney and CPA more than a month ago.

What can you tell the three of us, his former core staff, who feel anguish over his breach of trust in laying us off without notice? How do we deal with this betrayal and move on?

Answer:

You put your trust in your former business owner, did everything you were supposed to, and he let you and the others down.

Here’s how to move through this betrayal.

Allow your feelings to surface. If you fully experience your shock, anger, resentment and other emotions now, they’ll be less likely to surface later at inopportune times. Don’t recycle your anguish by staying stuck in this venting stage.

Put the situation in perspective. You lost your job, but you’re likely a great hire. Make a list of why any employer would be glad to have you join his or her team. To begin with, you have the capacity to give an employer loyalty and you’re not one of those employees who annually moves from job to job. Further, you have the perfect answer to why you’re on the job market — your former employer went out of business.

Stop beating yourself up for missing clues or not asking the right questions. Being laid off or even deciding to resign from a job initially accepted with high hopes can lead you to doubt yourself, question your judgment, and wonder how you didn’t see the final end coming. From what you’ve said, this situation has more to do with your former employer than you — which means you couldn’t have fixed it.

Take responsibility for your future. What choices lie ahead? Which ones lead to a career future in which you won’t be working for an individual or company who stays mired in “getting around to” making needed changes? The cliché is true, when one door closes another opens.

This means, of course, you need to emotionally put your former employer’s problems in the rear-view mirror and not carry forward resentment, anger and bitterness baggage, nor fear that what happened with this past employer may happen with your next. Moving on requires emotionally moving forward — hard to do once you’ve been betrayed, but worth it.

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One thought on “How to Move Past an Employer’s Betrayal

  1. These are great action steps for dealing with a past employer’s betrayal. I like he idea of making a list of why a new employer should be glad to hire you and the recommendation to vent your feelings as part of moving on, but not carrying them in with you to the application/interview/new job process, and the words that show that this person is worth it.

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