July 10, 2011

Five Tips to Avoid being Laid Off

When companies have to make budget cuts, the management has a lot of tough decisions to make. No one in any position should assume he/she is safe, even if you’ve been with the company for 20 years or do a job that you think is absolutely necessary. Lay offs usually come in rounds – they try to keep people as long as possible rather than laying off everyone at once. If you’re nervous about surviving your company’s next round of lay offs, here are some tips that can help so you aren’t trying to find a new job:

  • Skip vacation time and sick days – be in the office on time every day.

Now is not the opportune time to head to the beach or otherwise leave the office unless you absolutely have to. Laying off employees is often an emotional process, and if you aren’t around, it makes you an easier target. This isn’t, of course, always the case, but if you’re in the office 40+ hours per week it won’t give them a way to avoid the emotional distress of giving you that notice.

  • Stop hogging resources.

If a company is doing mass lay offs, it’s because they need to cut back on costs. Are you someone who uses more than your fair share  of resources? I don’t mean extra pens from the stock room – but are there a lot of expenses associated with your job? You can’t always cut back on spending completely, since you have to get the job done, but think about where you can cut back. For example, when you travel for business, do you fly business class, stay at nicer hotels, and eat at fancy restaurants, all on the company’s dime? Propose some travel changes that will save the company money and it might save your job.

  • Talk to your boss about ways to improve.

The first to go in any business are the employees who aren’t doing very well in their assigned roles. If your performance has been down, even if it isn’t your fault, schedule a meeting with your manager (and even those above him/her if possible) and talk about ways you can improve. Showing initiative might save you from the next round of lay offs.

  • Pick up some slack when people are laid off.

If you survive the first round or two, start picking up some slack. Instead of hiring new people, your company’s management will reassign tasks that are absolutely necessary to the employees they kept. Go to your boss and volunteer to take over Larry’s project or do some of the things around the office that Lisa used to do. Bonus points if this involves being trained. Employers don’t want to train someone for a necessary task and then lay them off a few weeks later only to have to train another person.

  • Watch your hours.

Companies that have hourly employees (rather than salaried employees) can’t afford to be paying overtime if they are cutting the workforce. If you get your job done and are really good at it, that doesn’t matter if you have lots of overtime every week. Yes, you won’t make as much money if you cut your hours, but it’s better to make slightly less than to lose your job completely, right?

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