Career Report
July, 2010 — Issue 125


Joining a Dispirited Workplace

If you’re a new hire in a workplace that’s been hit by layoffs and budget cutbacks in the past few years, you could very likely face a difficult time fitting in and becoming productive, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal. That’s because existing employees may still feel insecure about their jobs and resentful of the extra workload they’ve had to take on, making them wary of newcomers.

But despite such challenges at a demoralized workplace, a new hire at a company rebuilding staff can still find ways to cope without being brought down by others. According to the article, here is some guidance to consider which may help:

Keep a level head. Anxiety is an emotion that’s easily picked up from others, said Paul Baard, a professor at Fordham University and a workplace psychologist. He said that it’s important to work to keep yourself from feeling the same anxiety current employees have been feeling.

He recommends new hires “keep putting ideas out there,” and keep moving forward. “The less dependent [you are], the less vulnerable [you will] be to going into an atmosphere that is anxious,” Dr. Baard told the newspaper. Don’t get caught up in looking back at bad times that have plagued the past year or two.

Stay neutral. A demoralized workplace can be factionalized so it’s critical not to take sides, said Margaret Morford, president of HR Edge Inc., a management and training consultancy in Brentwood, Tenn. “Stay out of conflicts. If a co-worker needs to vent, tell them that you prefer not to hear anything negative about employees since you have to work with them,” she advised. “Whatever you do, don’t join in on negative talk.”

Take initiative. Your new coworkers may feel resentful and overworked from trying to fill gaps in staffing. Offer to lend a hand early on in order to demonstrate that you’re there to help make the job easier. But don’t be surprised if you’re first met with suspicion in your attempts, experts said. To workplace survivors, “everybody is a competitor,” said Dr. Baard.

The key, he said, is to engage your new colleagues often and establish ongoing collaboration on projects or department initiatives. If you’re particularly concerned about being seen as a threat, invite coworkers to lunch—but do it one-on-one said Morford. “As a group, they are used to relating in a way that doesn’t include you,” she added. “Groups may also bring tension with them to lunch.”

Find a lifeline. If you’re having trouble connecting, find somebody – a mentor or senior colleague – who can help you navigate the workplace and break the ice for you. It can even be somebody outside of your department. Look for a mentor who doesn’t speak ill of other employees or the organization and who has a track record of working to mediate conflicts.

Stay positive. Do your best to stay positive about your new role and the new office. Experts say it can take up to four months to truly get a picture of a new workplace and the underlying social dynamics, the article pointed out. And as established staffers recognize that new hires often signal a positive turn for their company, their attitudes are likely to change, too.


FREE Interactive Job-Seeker Webinar: Phone Interview Strategies for Job Applicants

Our next Free Job-Seeker webinar will take place on Wednesday July 14th “Phone Interview Strategies for Job Applicants”. Register for this webinar now by visiting The following is a sampling of what others have said about this webinar:


  • Bob Larson was direct and clear in his presentation. He also was succinct with the message. I think 30 minutes was the perfect amount of time to do the presentation.
  • The content was helpful and presented in a clear and concise manner. The examples were great.
  • Short, concise and packed with good information that can be applied immediately. Very professional.
  • Bob, Great job as usual. It may sound basic but…the reminder to determine who is calling, title and firm is so important. I must admit when I have not captured that info early in an interview it gets very awkward later to ask (again). Many thanks.
  • This was helpful to me. I plan to have my resume by me along with a printed copy of the job description, if available, the next time I get a phone interview. I also was not aware that I should send a thank you to the screener.
  • Mr. Larson gave clear, useful advice about phone interview techniques. The advice was specific, not generalized. It was helpful.
  • It was more than I expected, good information, well presented. I knew most of the information already; however the items mentioned about the line manager were very eye opening – specifically the Face to Face part. Overall, a great quality presentation.
  • Excellent suggestions, great easy to follow visual presentation, and Bob is a great speaker.
  • Thank you for providing the information/insights with regard to different responses or needs based upon who is on the telephone call interview. Thank you so much for this great service…aka “paying it forward!
  • By far this was one of the best webinars I have ever participate in. It was very informative and answered many questions that I had regarding what recruiters are looking for in phone interviews.


We are both pleased and proud to announce that over 25,000 participants took advantage of this free program during 2009.


News from BLK

Joanne Ehlermann, PHR is actively working as a track leader for final selection of speakers for the NJSHRM conference in Long Branch on November 1st and 2nd. We at Berman Larson Kane are always pleased to contribute in some small way to the SHRM community.

Berman Larson Kane is proud to be hosting the Tuesday night meetings for the MIS Networking Group If you are in transition, contact John Sampson for details and registration.

Bob Larson, CPC is pleased to continue our BLK FREE webinar series on various job-seeking topics. You can register for these events at our website You can also read testimonials about our last session at Our wish continues that all participants become webinar dropouts as a result of having landed a great new job.

As for our BLK analysis of the job market a friend of BLK said it best “its BETTER not to be confused with GOOD” … thank you to all our clients who continue to place their trust in our ability to “Offer the Best Staffing Options”.