How to Survive Anticipated Mass Layoffs

An NPR poll from more than two weeks ago showed that 18% of Americans had already been laid off or had their work hours cut since the Coronavirus entered the world stage. We’ve seen an unprecedented number of people apply for unemployment benefits this month, and many more are wondering if and when they will be next.

While it takes years of building up the kind of rapport and trust to feel truly secure in your job, we’ve gathered some ideas for how you can do something now to improve your chances of not being laid off in the near future.

Make sure you’re fulfilling your responsibilities.

All it takes is a regular check-in with your boss to learn whether he/she is happy with your performance. Not only does this demonstrate assertiveness and willingness to work hard, but it gives you an opportunity to find out how valued you are and what specific ways you can improve if you are found lacking. It can also help to nurture a more positive working relationship with your boss.

Build multifaceted relationships at work.

It is important to have trusting, quality work relationships. Interestingly, it’s also important to have a good social relationship with your coworkers in order to be fully valued.

Professor Lynn Wu from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania recently studied the communication styles between employees at various companies, and found a close correlation between casual/social communication and higher job retention, even more so than the amount of money employees brought to the company. Having a dynamic relationship with people helps build trust and camaraderie that is valued, even in times of crisis.

Be willing to flex and take on new responsibilities.

When mass layoffs happen, the remaining employees will likely need to take on new or additional work. A track record of flexibility, positivity, and trustworthiness can demonstrate to your employer that you are one of the resilient few who can be trusted to do your part in this scenario.

If you’ve already witnessed a round of layoffs and are anticipating more, use that opportunity to prove yourself. Of course, don’t forget to consider the possible consequences of spreading yourself too thin, and do your best to find a decent balance for yourself and your company.

Reconsider accepting that job offer at another company.

Have you been on the job hunt recently? Got a decent offer sitting in your inbox? Consider sticking with your current employer instead of accepting the new gig, unless it’s at a more stable company. Some of the most obvious employees to cut are new hires, so don’t make yourself an easy target.

Plan now for if/when you do get laid off.

In typical recessions over the last half century, U.S. unemployment rates have increased by up to 2.5%. That equates to approximately 3.5 million jobs lost in today’s workforce, according to David Wilcox, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Set aside funds now for the chance that you become one of the potentially millions of jobless workers, and the chance that you don’t receive any severance pay. Companies are not required to offer it to laid off employees. Don’t forget to immediately apply for unemployment insurance, and don’t feel ashamed about it. When there are mass layoffs, it’s a sign that the company has failed, not you.

Interested in more ways to both secure and advance your career?

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