Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 9, Issue 4;   January 28, 2009: How to Avoid a Layoff: The Inside Stuff

How to Avoid a Layoff: The Inside Stuff

by

These are troubled economic times. Layoffs are becoming increasingly common. Here are some tips for changing your frame of mind to help reduce the chances that you will be laid off.
The Purchasing Managers Index

Recent data for the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), which is a composite index based on new orders, inventory levels, production, supplier deliveries, and the employment environment. The index for December 2008 was 32.4, which indicates strong economic contraction. The Backlog of Orders Index is at the lowest level since tracking began in January 1993. The steady stream of news reports on data such as this is of course depressing, but most news outlets don't show readers and viewers the graphics that go along with the data. When you look at the graphs, you'll get a much clearer picture of where we are. Knowledge is power. Check out the data from the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Graphic courtesy The Institute for Supply Management.

The anticipatory layoff — one executed by a profitable company that isn't yet in trouble — is an important difference between the current economic crisis and past slowdowns. That's why, as an employee, preparing for layoffs is smart strategy now, even if your own company is doing well so far.

If you don't want to be among those designated for layoff, there are things you can start doing now to enhance your chances of continued employment. I've organized them into three categories. The inside stuff includes actions you can take to strengthen your frame of mind and help you maintain a positive attitude. Relationship-oriented actions include things to do that involve your relationships with colleagues, co-workers and others. And situational actions include things to do and decisions to make that pertain to your general situation at work.

Here are some tips for strengthening yourself emotionally to make your attitude more positive and appealing to those around you.

Attend to your health
If you're healthy, you feel better emotionally. Exploit your health insurance, if you have it, to get minor things taken care of. Smoking cessation is especially useful, because it helps your health, and makes you more attractive as an employee, and saves lots of cash. But don't do anything elective that will keep you out of work for extended periods, because despite any legal protections, being out on sick leave can make you more vulnerable to layoff.
Attend to your finances
Whatever might happen, you'll deal with it better if your finances are in good shape. Some signs of trouble: carrying balances on credit cards, bills in arrears, and phone calls from creditors. If you have chronic financial problems, recognize that you need advice and counseling — and get help from a reputable noncommercial agency. If part of the problem is marital, seek counseling for that, too.
Work-life balance might now mean longer hours
In good times, working long hours threatens happiness at home. But in troubled times, losing your job altogether is a greater threat to home life. If you think that working longer hours will help make you more valuable than your co-workers, get the support of your family and go for it.
Keep your personal troubles private
Foreclosure, divorce, illness, family problems — keep all of it private. When managers select people to terminate, they sometimes consider personal stability. Telling people about your personal problems probably won't help you keep your job. If you need to talk to someone, and family isn't enough, seek a counselor or a therapist.
Telling people about
your personal problems
probably won't help
you keep your job

Most important, be the most positive person you know. This is more than just acting as if you have a positive attitude. You must be positive. Do whatever you can do to make your job, your finances, your family and your social situation as secure as they can be.

We'll address tips for relationships next time.  Next in this series Go to top Top  Next issue: How to Avoid a Layoff: Your Relationships  Next Issue

303 Secrets of Workplace PoliticsIs every other day a tense, anxious, angry misery as you watch people around you, who couldn't even think their way through a game of Jacks, win at workplace politics and steal the credit and glory for just about everyone's best work including yours? Read 303 Secrets of Workplace Politics, filled with tips and techniques for succeeding in workplace politics. More info

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Related articles

More articles on Emotions at Work:

Carrot and stickIrrational Self-Interest
When we try to influence others, especially large groups or entire companies, we sometimes create packages of incentives and disincentives that are intended to affect behavior. These strategies usually assume that people make choices on rational grounds. Is this assumption valid?
Red Ball Express troops stack "jerry cans" used to transport gasoline to front-line units during World War II.Inappropriate Levels of Regard
The regard we have for others as people is sometimes influenced by the regard we have for the work they do. Confusing the two is a dangerous error.
Richard Posner, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in ChicagoSome Subtleties of ad hominem Attacks
Groups sometimes make mistakes based on faulty reasoning used in their debates. One source of faulty reasoning is the ad hominem attack. Here are some insights that help groups recognize and avoid this class of errors.
A Canada Goose nestingBig Egos and Other Misconceptions
We often describe someone who arrogantly breezes through life with swagger and evident disregard for others as having a "big ego." Maybe so. And maybe not. Let's have a closer look.
Inside the space station flight control room (FCR-1) in the Johnson Space Center's Mission Control CenterEmbarrassment, Shame, and Guilt at Work: Coping
Coping effectively with feelings of embarrassment, shame, or guilt is the path to recovering a sense of balance that's the foundation of clear thinking. And thinking clearly at work is important if you want to avoid feeling embarrassment, shame, or guilt.

See also Emotions at Work and Managing Your Boss for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

A form of off road driving also known as mud boggingComing November 30: Avoiding Speed Bumps: II
Many of the difficulties we encounter when working together don't create long-term harm, but they do cause delays, confusion, and frustration. Here's Part II of a little catalog of tactics for avoiding speed bumps. Available here and by RSS on November 30.
Tuckman's stages of group developmentAnd on December 7: Reaching Agreements in Technological Contexts
Reaching consensus in technological contexts presents special challenges. Problems can arise from interactions between the technological elements of the issue at hand, and the social dynamics of the group addressing that issue. Here are three examples. Available here and by RSS on December 7.

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