The high rate of unemployment, which has troubled the economic landscape in the United States since 2008, shows no signs of abatement. Recent news reports indicate slight gains in private payrolls and a slower pace of layoffs, but the overall labor statistics are still a grim reminder that the American economy still has a long way to go in terms of recovery.
In times of economic austerity, business firms and even government organizations are known to resort to staff reduction measures, despite the strong backlash of opinion and criticism. Whatever the reasons for laying off personnel may be, companies that choose to tender pink slips during difficult times are curiously and unexpectedly rewarded with increased productivity.
The curious correlation between higher productivity and the high rate of unemployment in the United States has created a new trend in the workplace. American firms are now looking to hire a different breed of worker. They want employees who think differently and who are able to truly bring value to an organization. Those are the employees who not only survive layoffs, but also make substantial contributions to the business.
Surviving a layoff these days is not indicative of continuous future employment. Employees who work for firms with large payrolls are more likely to see their names appear on a layoff list than their counterparts working at small businesses. Keeping a job in a tough economy forces an employee to adopt a different mindset and employ different skills.
To avoid getting the dreaded walking papers is one thing, staying behind and trying to keep a job is downright Darwinian. Still, there are a few things that layoff survivors must keep in mind:
– The job may not last: This is the perfect time to read the writing on the wall. In this turbulent economy, a job -or an entire company- could suddenly evaporate without notice. Keeping a finger on the pulse of the company and the industry is essential. Resumes should be kept fresh and up-to-date, skills must be sharpened, and a business network must be nurtured at all times.
– Complaining accomplishes nothing: This is not a good time to share feelings and emotions about the sorry state of affairs. Complaints only help to jeopardize a delicate job position.
– Going the extra mile: Hard workers should not have a problem shouldering more responsibility, or taking on expanded roles at the job. Depending on the circumstances, there may be multiple sacrifices to be made—like working longer hours, taking work home, and even accepting a lower salary. Employees who have a knack for volunteering and who are team players will have fewer difficulties hanging on to their jobs.
– Knowledge and information rule the workplace: Employers these days are looking for well-rounded workers more than ever. Employees should learn everything there is to learn about their position, the company they work for, and the corresponding industry. Modern workers are expected to think in terms of providing solutions and being resourceful. The simple workplace philosophy of “just getting the job done” is no longer sufficient.
– Recessionary attitudes are not welcome: Revealing political leanings or playing the blame game could prove deadly for someone who is looking to stay employed. A business organization that tries to stay afloat despite a negative economic climate does not need to be reminded of the gloomy Zeitgeist. Employees with negative attitudes do not tend to remain employed for very long, in any economy.
Striving for excellence is the best way to ensure job security. Keeping a job in a downbeat economy may seem uninspiring and a lot like hard work, but employees who stop to contemplate the alternative—looking for another job—should feel a jolt of reality. The more indispensable you can make yourself, the more likely you are to be retained.
Thomas Hathaway is a financial consultant and blogger. He suggests it may be a smarter move to take out payday loans rather than requesting pay advances from employers these days.