It’s true that Post-Traumatic Layoff Disorder isn’t recognized along the lines of real-life documented conditions such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (not yet, anyway), but the aftershocks appear to be just as real.
In this case, the disorder isn’t referring to those who were unfortunate enough to receive pink slips (although that’s a separate trauma in and of itself).
The syndrome refers to those employees who are left at a company in the aftermath following a round of layoffs.
A recent article in Psychology Today, “Layoffs and the Stress Response”, talks about the mental and emotional effects that workers still employed with a company are left to sort out after job cuts occur. It turns out that there’s a lot we didn’t know—including the fact that “layoff survivor syndrome” is actually real, according to research. The article notes that “[i]t is a management fallacy that keeping people anxious about keeping their jobs, motivates them to perform better.” In fact, according to research, exactly the opposite is accurate. When employees are dealing with the aftereffects of a round of layoffs, the stress response kicks in and associated adverse health effects—even heart attacks, the article reports—are entirely possible outcomes. Plus, the article adds, there’s an association between employees’ weakening functioning at work and the decidedly downbeat environment created by cutbacks.