Avoiding layoffs and staying employed in a tough economy

Avoiding Layoffs

by Debra Karplus

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My Story: Before Job Loss

Preparing for Layoff

Your stomach does flip-flops. Your face becomes red-hot. You feel your pulse race as you watch your officemate pack up his personalized coffee mug, his framed wedding photo, that cute little thingy on this desk that you never could figure out, and other accoutrements. He is then quietly escorted into the elevator and out of the building by a security guard. Jason, who sat at the desk beside yours, had loyally worked long hours for the company for over ten years. He always looked busy and everyone seemed to like him and laugh at his jokes. Coworkers pondered that he might even be up for a promotion. What could he have done that got him fired without much warning? You toss and turn all night as this question ruminates in your brain.

In today's tough economy, companies of all sizes are trying to survive and reduce expenses by cutting staff. It's in the news daily. No part of the United States is immune. Employees at every level, including some managers, are getting the axe.

The idea of downsizing and layoffs seemed rather remote and faraway, until you noticed that there were gradually fewer people in the company break room and fewer cars in the employee parking lot. Now it's happening at your workplace and it's scary. Could you be the next person to drag yourself over to the unemployment office? How do you stay employed and not become another pink slip statistic?

Be honest while applying for work. The best first step to job security is to be totally honest on your job application and during your interview when asked specific questions. If you have any skeletons in your closet, potential bosses have numerous ways to find out about you, so always be truthful. You don't need to volunteer unnecessary ancillary information, but never be deceptive about your education, training, former employment, skill level or experience. Always assume that you'll be discovered if you sidestep the truth.

Bad behavior in the workplace gets noticed before good behavior. Typically, a person in the workplace gets noticed for doing the wrong thing, not the right thing, so always do what you are expected to do and follow all company rules impeccably, even if other employees do not. Your job is to make the company and your boss look good. Always remember that. If you have a management position, be a role model and set a good example for the people you supervise. Never discuss salary, yours or anyone else's, at or outside of the workplace.

Arrive to work punctually and never leave early. Be sure that your lunch hour and breaks don't exceed the allotted time. Minimize taking time off for personal issues whenever possible. While at work, give your employer 100% of yourself. Avoid making personal phone calls and Internet use; you can order Mom's birthday gift when you get home. Also, be extremely careful how you use email and never do online chat while at work. Bosses have an uncanny way of gaining access to your messages. People have lost jobs because of inappropriate uses of the office computer so don't keep anything at work that could be used against you in any way.

Maintain a neat workspace and produce tidy work. Always be well-groomed at work. Sloppiness is unacceptable; it makes the company look bad. Follow the company dress code. If it's not formally stated, then dress as co-workers dress. Look professional, not ultra stylish, and certainly don't dress provocatively. In other words, dress so that you'll not get noticed. Avoid perfume and other strong scents.

Be a cost-effective employee. Make yourself cost effective for the company rather than a financial liability. Become the employee that helps the company increase revenue or save money. Be productive and not wasteful. Create profitable ideas. Meet deadlines with excellent quality work that exceeds the expectations and requires minimal follow-up. Become indispensable. Never be greedy.

If your job involves customer service, think about the times that you've been the recipient of customer service. Provide your customers with the best service they'll ever receive; your success or failure with customers could improve or destroy your company.

Don't bother the helpful, hardworking people at Human Resources (HR) unnecessarily. They are overworked employees, just like you. They have much to do already with hiring, paying, benefits management and so on.

Sometimes layoffs have nothing to do with your job performance and are a function of the economy. We live in a world where you can't assume that consequences are logical or fair. Always have a back-up plan in mind in case you do lose your job. Maintain a file of letters of recommendation. Keep your technology skills up-to-date. Revise your resume periodically.

Having an exemplary work ethic can serve you well throughout your life, whatever career path you choose. It increases your chances of staying employed during touch economical times. Do the right thing at work and you are likely to outlast other employees.

Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on Amazon.com (kindle), has written several travel articles for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and several articles for freelancewriting.com. Learn more about her at DebraKarplus.blogspot.com.

Take the Next Step:

  • Don't be in denial. If you feel that your job maybe at risk, have a contingency plan.
  • Take action today, so you will be better off tomorrow. For instance: find a new job, get additional training, and get out of debt.
  • Stop struggling to get ahead financially. Subscribe to our free weekly Surviving Tough Times newsletter aimed at helping you 'live better...for less'. Each issue features great ways to help you stretch your dollars and make the most of your resources. Subscribers get a copy of Are You Heading for Debt Trouble? A Simple Checklist And What You Can Do About It for FREE!
  • Learn more about preparing for a layoff.

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