I’ve had to lay staff off before – it is emotionally draining, and extremely difficult. Layoffs can occur for two primary reasons:
- The business is suffering, orders aren’t coming in, and the company simply cannot afford to remain at current staffing levels without risking larger consequences [i.e. the entire company going out of business during a downturn in the economy, change in markets, etc.]
- A change in company strategy or direction. In this case business may be booming, but a change in strategy could result in some roles not being needed any longer. This happens obviously when job functions are outsourced to an external vendor, or the needs of the business and its various departments have changed
There is no fool proof way to protect yourself against being caught up in a layoff, but there are some strategies you can, and should, follow to reduce your odds of being affected, particularly in the 2nd case above:
- Always be driving to learn new skills in addition to going above and beyond in your current role. You want to not only be a star in your current job, but you want to constantly be volunteering on new programs and projects to expand your skills, so that if your current function is ever eliminated, you have a broader set of skills that the company can review and consider you for other positions.
- Networking and relationships within the company. Regardless of your job, never be hidden in a cubicle or office and assume your work speaks for itself. You should always be networking, growing relationships across the company, participating in events and volunteering to help others – you want as many people as possible to be aware of what you do, how well you do it, the additional contributions you make beyond your current role, etc. Then, if your job function ever gets eliminated, others will view this as an opportunity to snatch up a highly skilled, seasoned employee to come work in their department. You have to build your reputation and network outside your current department on an ongoing basis. This one thing will always work to your advantage.
Layoffs are hard – hard on the company as they lose good talent, hard on the individual who now must quickly find another job to maintain their lifestyle, support themselves and their family. However, following the above steps will help increase your odds of being in the group that never gets let go, even if your role is eliminated.