Workplace Rights

Weekly (8/9/10)

Topic of the Week  99-ers--Dealing With Friends Who've Exhausted Their Unemployment Insurance:

• DO make time for unemployed friends and colleagues.
• DO empathize.
• DO introduce them to opportunities.
• DON'T say just what they want to he

With the stock market and corporate profits slowing returning, it is easy to believe that the worst of the recession is behind us. Unfortunately that is not the case for millions of people who have used 99 weeks of unemployment but still can't find a job. The New York Times branded these people the "99-ers." Which reminds me of Mark Seamands, of Port Townsend, WA, who was accused of second-degree assault for the hot-iron branding of his three kids. However, the kids testified to the judge that they not only consented to the branding, that they thought it was cool to have "SK" (for Seamands kids) tattooed on them. You just can't make this stuff up.

People who've used up their unemployment insurance also feel branded. These people lost jobs, savings and their dignity. That's why it's the job of the rest of us to provide them emotional support and to try to point them in the direction of jobs and project work. I'll give three Do's and one Don't for strategies about how all of us can support those who are struggling. For more, check out for our extensive resources for getting and keeping a job.

DO make time for unemployed friends and colleagues. Today, we all get calls from people networking since they've lost their jobs. I've heard lots of stories from people who are down on their luck who've been blown off by former friends and colleagues, even formerly close friends. I understand that most people at work today have a full plate, not only doing their job but often the jobs of laid off coworkers too. But we need to make time for people who are searching for work, for no other reason that we'd want them to make time for us if the situation was reversed.

DO empathize. Don't overlook the importance of providing a shoulder for them to cry on. A safe place to vent, without judgment from you, can be part of the grieving process. Empathy isn't easy to provide, it takes time and effort to buff those muscles. But we all need to remember that it's a part of the healing process.

DO introduce them to opportunities. With all the cutbacks, there still are lots of projects out there that need to be done. So really rack your brain for any and all ways for them to make money. This involves making some calls or sending out some emails to colleagues, prowl on their behalf both inside and outside your company.

DON'T say just what they want to hear. There is a value in suggesting that someone needs to upgrade their skills, tweak their resume or be more upbeat. This advice could make a huge difference in the person's ability to find employment moving forward.

Mark Seamands put a permanent brand on his kids, it doesn't have to be that way for the 99-ers that you know, but you've got to pitch in to help them move past their current difficulties.

About The Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via

Thought of the Week

"Every exit is an entry some place else."

–Tom Stoppard

Blog of the Week

Top Five News Headlines

    List of the Week

    from How They Really Feel--Employees feelings about employers today

    • 46% of Employees (and 48% of employers) site "lack of transparency in leadership communications"
    • 48% of Employees (and 65% of employers) site "lack of trust"
    • 40% of Employees (and 39% of Employers) site perception of unfair and unethical treatment of employees


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