Layoffs. What a horrible word we all dread hearing. Rumors of it can cause widespread fear and panic. The prospect of having your job eliminated is overwhelming and stressful.

How to Avoid Being Laid Off

You might believe you have no control when it comes to getting laid off, but there are things you can do to take precautionary steps. Here are some steps you can take to minimize the chances of being laid off.

Become an Observer

Keep up with what’s going on in your company, the industry you work in and the global economy. Talk with people outside your department to find out what they’ve heard or seen. You want to be subtle and professional in your inquiries, not emotional and inflammatory.

You’re familiar with the phrase “the writing on the wall”? Well you need to open your eyes, see it, read it and understand it. Management will most likely pick and choose the least valuable jobs to lay off first.

Work harder, smarter and well

Let the office gossips run around spreading rumors. You want to show your bosses that you are able to think big picture and long-term. You want to prove that you are an asset to the company.

If you have outstanding or open projects, work diligently to wrap them up. If you’ve got potential clients or money-making deals open, work hard to close them and bring in business.

The bulk of your time should be spent on proving your value and making management want to keep you long-term. Do your job and do it well?

During important meetings, speak up and present carefully thought-out ideas that demonstrate you are a human resource the company needs to keep.

Most importantly, keep a positive, enthusiastic attitude. It may be difficult to do, but it shows that you are mission-focused and secure in your ability to be an asset.

Develop strong relationships

During uncertain times, it pays to keep relationships with your boss and others in good standing. You don’t want to flatter unnecessarily, just stay on everyone’s radar as a pleasant, friendly, hard-working individual who is an asset to the organization.

Participate in office events – especially the ones that are important to your boss and the higher-ups. Again, visibility is a plus in uncertain times.

Become visible – in a positive way

You want to be seen as indispensable to the company. Become the person who arrives early and leaves late when work needs to get done. Try volunteering for assignments that give you an opportunity to show your worth.
Stay on top of your skills and know the latest information or trends in your field.

Fulfill your commitments on time and make sure others know what you do for the company. You want to show your boss that you have more skills to offer and you’re willing to go the extra mile.

Help build employee morale…or at the very least do not become associated with complainers or trouble makers.

Think long-term, not short-term

What is your company saying about layoffs? Are they large or small? Are they targeting specific areas in the company or universal?

Gather as much data as you can to make the right decisions for you. Maybe you can negotiate a short leave of absence (sabbatical) without pay with the promise that when you return, your job is secure?

If you sense layoffs are coming and feel there’s nothing you can do to stop it happening to your job, consider volunteering to leave.

Traditionally, the first employees laid off get the best compensation. It might just give you the financial resources and time to look for another job.

Consider renegotiating your salary or position. If you are willing to take a pay cut or move to a different job, you can stay employed. Tell your employer that you value your job and want to do what it takes to keep it.

Listen to suggestions and make an effort to address development needs so that you can become the employee your company wants to keep for years to come.