Protecting Your Job When Layoffs Loom
In today’s economy, there are few industries that are immune to the possibility of layoffs. In the past week, HTC, Boeing, BlackBerry, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America have all announced cuts, and hospitals across the country are planning massive layoffs citing ObamaCare. In 2012 alone, more than 20 million Americans were laid off or terminated.
While the reports are bleak, there is hope. USA Today reported this month that unemployment rates have remained steady or fallen in 32 states. While many employees are resting easier for the time being, job security is a luxury few Americans possess. One bad quarter, and your job could disappear.
While keeping your eyes and ears open to a possible layoff is important, preparing for one – no matter how improbable – beginning your first day on the job will help defend you against termination and allow you to bounce back quickly if the axe falls. As employment attorneys we see a lot of these trends and their effects, below is some advice on how to protect yourself and possibly your job.
- Listen to rumors; don’t spread them – If there’s chatter among your office mates about a possible layoff, it’s likely there’s some truth behind it. While gossip is a sign you should get your affairs in order, it’s critical to keep your own mouth closed. Those who rumor monger and destroy morale will likely be the first ones to lose their jobs.
- Spotlight your value – Keep your manager abreast of your project statuses and accomplishments each week to raise your visibility in the company and share ideas on how to boost business. Just as important, be sure to outline how your achievements helped the organization’s bottom line – whether it was securing new business or employing new cost cutting measures.
- Show your versatility – In many cases, if one department lays off its staff, employees may be able to transition to other areas in the company if they have the appropriate skill sets. Always keep expanding your role, whether that involves growing your tech skills, proactively seeking out work, or undergoing training outside the office. If another opportunity arises in your company, you are more likely to fill the gap.
- Be a positive force – While skills and accomplishments are often deciding factors between who goes and who stays in a layoff, team players with a positive attitude have an advantage over their coworkers. Show your face at work events, step up to be a team player, and rally your coworkers in times of upheaval. Unfortunately, if you can’t escape a layoff, handling it with maturity and keeping your cool can help secure recommendations and leads for other openings.
- Be flexible – If your layoff is unavoidable, you may still be able to generate some income while you search for another job opportunity, whether at your current employer or with another company. Part-time work, contract work or a transfer may be a stepping stone on an even better career path.
Overall, the best way to protect your job in the midst of departmental layoffs is to never become complacent in your career. Treat every work day as if you’re being watched and critiqued, because in reality you are. And the impression you make on upper management can either save your job or put you on the chopping block.