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How Can I Keep My Job and Avoid Layoffs?

Dear Christine,
There are layoffs going on at my company and I am getting very concerned about loosing my job. What can I do to increase my odds of keeping my job?—Pink-Slipped Paranoia, 29

Dear Pink-Slipped Paranoia,
As much as I’d love to offer you some words of wisdom that would ensure job security, there maybe absolutely nothing you can do. For the majority of companies engaging in layoffs, it’s a numbers game. Businesses are facing the unfortunate reality of having to let go of great employees just to stay afloat. This reality does not mean that you should just give up so you might as well do anything and everything you can to increase your odds of attending the next company Christmas party. That way if you do end up facing a layoff, you will not have to pack any “shoulda, coulda, woulda’s” up with your office supplies.

One of the most important things to remember is that people like being around people they like, so be someone that others (especially your boss) like to be around. Keep an upbeat attitude around the office rather than allowing your pink-slip paranoia to perpetuate a mood of doom and gloom. Avoid complaining and engaging in talks about layoffs. Instead of being overly concerned about yourself, focus more on the people you work with and for. Think of things you can do to make your boss’s job easier. An employee who anticipates his or her superior’s needs without having to be asked is extremely valuable.

Each day set the intention to create and contribute to a positive, collaborative work environment. During times of economic strain, there is often internal competition as employees fear there are more people than secure job positions. Do not adopt an “every man for himself” work ethic. Continue to be a team player and be willing to support your fellow employees. Take a genuine interest in the lives of your co-workers - while being mindful of the fine line between being a likable employee and someone trying too hard to keep their job.

Also, be willing to take on responsibilities that are outside your job description. The more productive you are, the more irreplaceable you become. Express your willingness and interest to take on new duties to your boss. It’s also valuable to be proactive and figure out what you can do without asking. Spend a week paying closer attention to not only your job but also to the overall flow of the business. Come up with a few ideas that you could present to your boss rather than just relying on him or her for direction.

It’s also critical to keep enhancing your skill set. What kind of class could you take to be even better at your job? Is there a type of certification or license you could obtain to make you even more of an asset? Is there a new software program or technological skill you could learn that would increase your efficiency? Investing in your own learning and professional development not only makes you more appealing to your company now, it makes you more marketable in the future.

And I know this is easier said than done, but try not to worry so much. If you are constantly looking over your shoulder for a pink-slip, your attitude and the quality of your work will suffer. If a layoff does happen, do not take it personally. Like I said, for most companies it is all about the bottom line. Although loosing your job may create stress and strain, it does not have to be the end of the world. Try to reframe it as an opportunity to do some things you never had time to do or even consider a new career path. In the meantime, be as present as possible and be grateful for the job you have today instead of obsessing about tomorrow.

Originally published on Christine Hassler