How a Layoff Made Me Prioritize My Mental Health

February 27, 2023

At Paylocity I was introduced to a healthy team environment, supportive leadership, and active ERGs that built me up.

Blog Post
Alan Ninan Headshot

By: Alan Ninan

Talent Acquisition Partner

Before I joined Paylocity, I did not take the time to address my mental health. Sometimes, it takes a defining experience to change your mindset and set you on a new course. I vividly remember the event that shifted my attitude toward mental wellness.

My Defining Moment

“Alan, we are going to make it through this,” my wife said as she held my hands after hearing I was affected by a company-wide layoff after being at the company for less than 72 hours. My thoughts raced. My wife and I spent our savings buying our beautiful home in northern Virginia. Would we have to sell the house? Were my parents right about not going into recruiting? Did I make the wrong decision to find a new job? My strong mental fortitude slowly shattered as each new thought passed my mind. My wife, who worked a graveyard shift, tried her hardest to console me but needed to rest for her upcoming late-night shift. I called on parents, siblings, and in-laws for support. They listened wholeheartedly, but no one could console the despair I was feeling. I knew I needed something more.

Facing my Mental Health

I knew I couldn’t navigate this new challenge by myself. I was feeling overwhelmed and lacked the coping skills needed. But the topic of mental health was a foreign concept for my family. My parents struggled to come to the United States with only the promise of a better life. The quote, “You have a roof over your head, food in your belly, and a place to rest your head,” was one we lived by. What else could I have wanted? To say the least, the idea of seeing a mental health professional was uncommon.

Taking those next steps was hard, but I knew my overall health would benefit. And I'm so grateful I did because, through therapy, I was able to stop and really analyze the professional environment I had created for myself. I realized that I had not stopped working since I was 14 years old. I allowed my occupation to replace my personal identity instead of adding to it. As the revelation hit, tears streamed down my face, a weight lifted off my chest, and a new blueprint for the future of my career began to take shape.

Diving In Again

After self-searching, I did not know if I wanted to go back into recruiting, let alone into the tech industry. I recalled childhood conversations about returning to a more “stable” industry, such as engineering, medicine, or law. I know I speak for first-generation college students when I say it was tough not to choose a safer career and risk it all to pursue an alternative non-cookie-cutter career. I had to center myself and remember I had to go back to early careers recruiting not for me but for those I would have the opportunity to help.

The aftershock of a layoff is indescribable. The desire to brush up on your resume, research a company, and fill out an application seems like a mountain – but this time, I wanted to avoid making the same mistake of joining an organization that did not value work-life balance. You would have thought I was a private detective when I started researching new companies. I delved beyond About Me pages, open role volumes, and general standings in the stock market. I dove into Glassdoor, Fishbowl, and another 3rd party website that provided employee-driven feedback.

Choosing a Company That Cares

Paylocity piqued my interest due to the stability of the stock market, the emphasis on employees, and Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). I would be lying if I said that I was not a tad skeptical when I received an email inviting me to my first interview with Paylocity. I had two opposing thoughts ricocheting in my head – am I ready to jump back into a recruiting role, and what do I have to lose? I am glad that I listened to the latter.