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How to Avoid a Layoff

How to Avoid a Layoff

By Denise Kersten,

August 24, 2009

As the jobless rate continues to rise, few are exempt from layoff jitters.

Downsizing, re-organization, a shift in strategy — whatever you want to call it — can make going to work seem like a game of musical chairs. But there are some proactive measures you can take to ensure you’re not left standing at the end of the round.

Companies rarely select employees for layoffs randomly.

Performance is the number one factor employers use to determine who to shed and who to hang onto, according to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Other major considerations: job function and skills.

Unlike length of tenure with your company, these are areas where you can exercise some control by making yourself indispensable.

No plan of attack is layoff-proof, but the sooner you start your offensive, the greater your odds will be.

“You can’t just turn the switch on and say, ‘Okay, I’ll be good now,’” warns Debra Cohen, Director of Research at SHRM. What you can do is start working right now to convince your boss that the company can’t afford to lose you. Here’s how:

Keep Your Chin Up

“When word starts getting out [that there will be layoffs], people tend to feel less motivated to help the company,” says Chris Jones, owner of PoliTemps, a staffing agency in Washington, D.C.

But as bad news circulates, it becomes more important than ever to resist a workplace slump in performance.

Managers are looking for people willing to tackle extra responsibilities after staff reductions. Pitching in and working beyond your job description shows you’re competent, efficient and flexible.

Poll: How do you feel about crying at work?

Poll: How do you feel about crying at work?