Five ways to be ‘layoff-proof’
27 August 2008
All we have heard about in the media for the last six months is the downturn in our economy, and as we all know at this point consumer confidence is down and so is their spending. Companies wish to maintain their profits and as sales and margins get tighter the only answer is to reduce costs. As we all know the biggest cost in retail and FMCG is labour.
With all the turmoil in the economy, it’s easy to get fixated on doom and gloom, but you don’t need to panic. If while on the job you feel the hot breath of an economic downturn blowing down your neck, here are five steps to help increase your “employee value” and avoid that P45.
1. Make money or save money?
The private sector economy as a whole has become extremely bottom-line oriented. Employers categorize employees into one of two distinct groups, those that help make money, and those that help save money. Which one are you?
This doesn’t just apply to management. Even if you feel far removed from the company bottom line, start thinking of yourself as a mini profit-and-loss centre rather than just an employee. Are you a revenue generator or a revenue absorber?
For example, an administrative assistant handling incoming client phone calls helps to create a solid bond with those clients and strengthens the sales link with the company. In that way, they help to make money for the company. This same individual is also skilled at answering questions that would normally be directed to her boss or other employees. They save time and, therefore, save money for their company.
Collect specific examples of the benefits that your company gains from your work and the specific or unique way that you accomplish your duties. Write these down and use them as selling points during your next performance review.
2. Become indispensable
Don’t hide away in your office. Look around you. Take notice of those roles, projects or activities that seem to be getting a higher level of attention or involvement from management. If you’re not already a part of a critical project, then find ways to become more involved in these activities. Ask to be transferred to a critical area. Otherwise, volunteer for extra duties to support these activities.
You’ll be viewed as an employee who goes the extra mile while inoculating yourself against expendability when the company looks at reducing costs.
3. Better to manage or produce?
When considered for a promotion from a sales job to a junior management role, think about how that could play out in a worsening economy. It may be to your advantage to keep your hand in sales, as junior managers tend to be among the most expendable when a company downsizes.
4. Dust off your Rolodex
The time to cultivate your network is now, not when you need a favour. Make a list of friends and colleagues you haven’t spoken with for a while. E-mail them or, if your relationship is deeper, invite them for coffee or lunch. Reconnect with a few people every month until you update your whole list and weed out irrelevant contacts. Use this opportunity to get reacquainted with contacts and catch up on events in your industry and market. Don’t forget to share what you know as well.
5. Educate yourself
5Increase your “profit value” to your employer by continually updating your knowledge and skills. Ask your immediate supervisor or HR department about continuing education opportunities. Some companies offer education reimbursements.
Another resource is the local chapter of your professional association, which often provides continuing education to members. Professional associations are also valuable sources of current information on your industry. If you’re not currently a member of an association, join one.
Barry Whelan is managing director of Excel Recruitment Ltd