My wife and I are scared I’ll be laid off. We went into debt during the pandemic when my company furloughed me. We’ve spent the last year scrimping and have finally paid off all our credit cards. We want to buy a house so we can stop paying rent and give our three kids a yard. Since my wife is self-employed, the realtor warned us everything hinges on my being able to keep my job.

I thought I was immune to a layoff, as I’ve worked for my company for a long time, but then I read your post yesterday that not all employers factor longevity into layoff decisions.

This job is perfect for me. I work a hybrid schedule, so I’m remote two days a week and can give my wife a break with the kids’ before and after-school schedules. My coworkers and I know layoffs are pending. Our company grew too fast when things looked brighter just a year ago. Now, we’re over-staffed, and our managers spend most of the day behind closed doors and in meetings. How do I protect my job?


Which employees are most at risk to layoff?

When employers make layoff selections, they first place low-performing employees and those with easily replaced skills on the chopping block. Employers also send packing employees with poor work habits and a history of causing problems. Some employers factor longevity into their decision-making.  

Employees can safeguard their jobs.

Employers want to retain their A-players and those who can help them survive economic and marketplace conditions. If you’re a top-performing employee who exceeds expectations, make sure your manager and company leaders learn how valuable you are. If you’ve kept a record of your achievements, couple your accomplishments with the positive impact they’ve had on your company in revenue-producing, cost-saving, or system streamlining areas. Make sure those above you see it.

Are there ways in which you can “go above and beyond”? You make yourself invaluable when you take on mission-critical tasks. When you volunteer to help with high-profile projects, you label yourself a key contributor. If you’re already involved in high-priority assignments, can you better showcase the contributions you’ve made that have impacted your employer’s bottom line? You can do this in a non-braggy manner by providing regular progress updates on the financial impact resulting from your work. If those opportunities don’t exist, can you show you’re a leader on your team and able to train others, so you’ll be perceived as someone who can help rebuild your company post-recession?

If you’re now in a position that costs your employer money, can you move yourself into a revenue-producing role? If not, are there ways you can leverage your external network to funnel leads to your company’s sales team? Can you make yourself vital to your employer’s internal and external clients?

Make sure you’ve visible to your company’s key players. You safeguard your job by aligning yourself with multiple sponsors, rather than only one manager, especially if your manager might be on the layoff list as well. While you won’t want to hear this, give up your days at home. Those working remote are often the first chopped.

Despite the tension swirling around you, maintain your enthusiasm while at work. Make it clear you’re an enthusiastic team-player willing to help your employer achieve its goals. In the same way you focused on digging yourself out of debt and setting a goal of purchasing a house, continue to professionally develop yourself and your skills so you’ll be an employee no employer wants to lose.

(c) 2023 Lynne Curry

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One thought on “Terrified I’ll Be Laid Off

  1. These are great suggestions–make yourself valuable to the employer, make yourself visible to higher-ups, be enthusiastic and productive. I hope they work because this sounds like a very risky situation and an unpredictable employer. Is there any way the wife can also up her game to help bring in more?–I know this sounds about as risky and unpredictable as everything else.

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