Layoffs Leave Lingering Impact

September 17, 2001 ( - A new report finds that after a major downsizing, employees who survived were more than twice as likely to take sick leave than after a minor cutback and experienced a nearly sixfold increased risk of taking sick leave for musculoskeletal-related reasons.

Perhaps more significantly, the increased risks of poor health among remaining employees were evident even 4 years after the downsizing occurred, according to the report.

Those conclusions were included in a report presented recently during the 16th World Congress on Psychosomatic Medicine in Goteborg, Sweden, by researcher Dr. Jussi Vahtera of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.

Vahtera and his colleagues reviewed employer records for 764 Finnish employees who remained employed during a period of major downsizing, according to Reuters Health.

Stressed “Out”

Workers who survived a major downsizing were 2.5 times more likely to rate their health as poor, to report new musculoskeletal symptoms and to have severe musculoskeletal pain than employees who survived a minor downsizing, according to the report.

The researchers said that possible explanations include:

  • increased stress due to a greater workload
  • more job insecurity
  • stress caused by a decreased ability to participate in decision making.