I am nervous about today’s financial challenges. I think my company is going to start layoffs soon. There are lots of meetings and whispering going on among executives. I can’t afford to get laid off right now because my husband hasn’t been getting consistent work, so there is a lot of pressure on me to keep up with our bills. Do you think there is anything I can do to avoid being laid off if my company is considering it?


Yes! There are several things you can do that will help to avoid getting laid off. It is very insightful of you to take preventative action. With all of the economic challenges and fears being experienced by several countries it is prudent to work on strengthening and securing your own situation as opposed to ‘putting one’s head in the sand’. So, good for you!

There are a number of steps that can be taken:

Step 1. Put yourself in your boss and the company executives’ shoes. Think from their perspective. Ask yourself a series of questions: If you were in charge, what would your expectations be of company employees generally? What changes would make sense? What would be most beneficial to the company? What would help the company stay afloat? If you are not sure how to answer these questions, then ask someone else who might know the answers. Let the answers to these questions determine your every decision at work. And with each of the steps that follow, put yourself in the boss’ shoe when acting.

Step 2. Conduct an analysis to determine what aspects of the company are essential to its operations. In other words, what job functions can the company not afford to do without? Once you have determined this, find ways to tie yourself to those job functions. In other words, volunteer to assist in those areas. Don’t limit it to just one of the areas. Help out in as many of the areas that you can. This will prove valuable in the long run because when companies are considering layoffs they tend to keep employees that can perform more than one job function. The more jobs you can perform, the higher the probability of you being kept on board if layoffs were to occur.

Step 3. Learn as much as you can. If you have identified an essential area to the company in which you have no knowledge or skill, then learn as much as you can about it. Once again, volunteer. Do this during lunch hours or before work and study everything you can about it. If your co-workers ask questions about why you are doing this, simply tell them that you are considering a career change and you want to check it out to see if you would enjoy it. Of course, this is not telling the truth, and it is selfish, but people don’t generally help other people if they feel it will give the other person an advantage over themselves. At the same time, don’t think that there is only room for one person on board the ship. Assist anyone who wants to follow your lead. As long as someone is just as committed as you are to improving their chances, you should share these tips with them.

Step 4. Go the extra mile. Don’t be a clock-watcher! Employers dislike clock-watchers. Stay a few minutes past closing or past the end of the workday. Be prepared to do a little extra beyond what is normally required of you. Offer to assist people (outside of the job functions that you consider essential for Operations) that need assistance to demonstrate your willingness to assist whenever necessary. What you would be doing is demonstrating initiative, leadership and your value as an employee.

When employers seek to promote individuals, they don’t just look at their level of experience. They also look at attitude and approach to the job. I had a relative who told me a story about her own promotion once. She had been working for a bank for a short time. A promotion opportunity opened up at the bank and she was given the promotion. There was a lot of negative talk among her co-workers about her promotion. They felt it was unfair to give it to her because there were others who had far more experience and had been at the bank much longer than she had.

However, she understood why she had received the promotion over the others. She explained that on many occasions when her supervisor requested that she work overtime she would agree. She would also agree when requested to do things outside of her regular job functions. Her co-workers would always comment and tell her that she was being taken advantage of.

My point is that employers consider a number of things when making decisions about employees. So, it’s important to view choices from the boss’ perspective. In determining who should be kept and who should be let go during downsizing, going the extra mile or beyond the call of duty would be a positive contributing factor to being kept.

Step 5. Avoid associating with negative doom and gloom people. Words, thoughts, emotions, beliefs create. And people that engage in doom and gloom talk will have self-fulfilling prophecies. Don’t get caught up in their energies and their creations. You have to stay positive and always focus on solutions, just as you are doing now. You do not have to suffer during difficult times. It is up to you to make sure that you are doing all that you can not to. So focus all of your energy on staying positive and identifying solutions.

Step 6. Create a Plan B. If you work for a company that will close down despite its best efforts, no matter what effort you put forward, you will be out of a job. However, steps 1 through 5 are still essential because you would have just added tremendous value to your resume. You would be able to include your new skills and experience on your resume, and you would be able to get an awesome reference. Your Plan B must include identifying all available options for work opportunities. Don’t just limit yourself to trying to find another job. Consider the options you may have for working for yourself.

Consider the skill set you possess. If you are a bank clerk for example, consider offering your services to a number of different companies on a temporary basis. People always have to take vacations, so companies are bound to have temporary openings. It is also cheaper to hire someone on an outsource basis than have them work for the company full time because the company wouldn’t have to pay any benefits. Of course this is a disadvantage for you, but I am sure you would rather work at different companies temporarily with no benefits than not work at all. While signing up with a ‘temp’ agency may be advisable, you can do your own research by contacting other banks and networking to find temping opportunities. This is just one example. This option can be considered with a number of different job functions.

My suggestions do require a lot of work on your part. However, it is necessary work in order for you to achieve your objective. If your company is going to be downsizing, you really don’t want to be on the receiving end of the short stick, unless you would prefer your Plan B. Nevertheless, given that you have the foresight to see possible layoffs and are prepared to do something about it, I am sure that you will do well.

I wish you all of the best in your endeavors!

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Author's Bio: 

Cathy Archer has been an Organization Development Consultant for 9 years. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a Master of Science degree in Human Resources Development & Administration. Over the years, she has worked with companies to assess performance challenges and identify solutions.

Ms. Archer previously wrote a weekly column on performance issues, where she answered questions on performance improvement for both employees and managers. She is focusing all of her energies on New Consciousness business coaching services and will answer questions on performance challenges for individuals that are seeking help.