With a struggling economy layoffs have become a sad reality in corporate America.
For larger companies, layoffs are usually broad and indiscriminate in their scope. But for smaller offices, they are more likely to be surgical and at the discretion of superiors. In situations like these, it’s the underproductive, overpaid or problematic employees who get cut first. Increasing the likelihood that your position will not be cut by being an employee in good standing is always a wise decision. Employees who are in good standing could also find themselves on the chopping block, but when comparing apples to apples it’s the rotten fruit that gets downsized first. Knowing this, it is in your best interest to stay under the radar and avoid being tagged for removal. Being punctual and productive, as well as cooperative and willing to help out when needed, might just keep you from getting the pink slip.
Assessing your vulnerability by taking a look at your particular function and how it fits into the company’s larger strategic goal will help you determine whether or not you have a future. Hitting your numbers and getting results may not be enough if your position does not pass a strategic review. Discussing your concerns with your supervisor might help shed some light on the situation. If you are not getting the answers you need from your immediate supervisor, then you may have to find people above him or her who can get you the information you are looking for. Intentionally going over someone’s head may involve some risk of betrayal, but if it’s clear that layoffs are coming you may have little to lose by asking some questions. It may also help if you phrase your questions as coming from the desire to better understand the current realities of your business rather than out of the fear of losing your current job.
If you do determine that your job is on the chopping block, you’ll want to identify growth areas within your company that you might be able to move into. If you see an opportunity, you will want to immediately start building relationships with people in those areas. It is much easier to arrange a transfer while you are still employed rather than waiting until you are out of a job. It is always prudent to be forging relationships with people outside your own department even if you have no information that layoffs are coming; it could pay off down the road.
Employees who do get laid off, become disgruntled and thumb their noses at the company have no chance of being rehired and could even ruin their chances of getting hired by another company. A good reputation can create opportunities just as bad one can eliminate them.
When times are tough, there is no sure-fired way to keep yourself out of the unemployment office. But with a little strategic vision and common sense, you can certainly reduce your chances of becoming another corporate fatality.