Avoiding downsizing


By David Joel Miller.

Ways to make you the last to go when the company downsizes.

Downsizing and layoffs happen. Sometimes these are temporary slowdowns. Other times being downsized can mean a period of long-term unemployment.

Companies cut back in times of business slowdowns, recessions, and depressions. They also downsize to try to temporarily boost profits or because the company is becoming less competitive.

If you are a young worker in a noncompetitive company or a dying industry, potential downsizing may be the thing you need to push you to learn new skills and move on to a job with better prospects.

If you have a lot of training and education invested, student loans to pay, or if you are close to retirement age,  you may want to hold onto that job as long as possible and try to weather the downsizing storm.

One way to stay on board when the others are being tossed overboard is to make yourself irreplaceable at work. Here are some suggestions on ways to make yourself the one the company chooses to keep to the very end.

1. Be the only one who knows how to do things – learn all you can.

If you are the only one who can perform a certain operation or the only one that knows the computer system you will be far less likely to be let go.

Take trainings when offered. Do not avoid things because “that’s not part of my job.” Learn new and extra skills. Become the go-to person at your work site. As long as they keep the doors open they will need you.

2. Be the best at what you do.

The slower, less productive people are at the top of the list to go. Sure seniority and being the bosses cousin can count for something’s but when they have to make the who to let go decisions the unproductive or slow worker is the one they try to ease out first. Do not be that low skilled, low productivity person.

3. Get along with everyone – make small talk.

Hard to get along with people disappear in downsizings even when they are productive. Do not think that work skills alone will keep you on the job. Happy people who like the others they work with are more productive. If your presence is bad for morale they are looking to end that problem and you along with it.

Casual, small talk can help you to get along with others. This should not be taken as an excuse to spend vast amounts of time around the water cooler but an occasional “Hi” and “how are you” will keep others wanting you around.

4. Make your boss look good.

Make your boss or supervisor look good and you look good. Help not hinder them in meeting their productivity goals. Do not waste time trying to be right by making your boss wrong. The bosses and supervisors turn over more slowly than the line workers. If your department looks good they cut fewer positions.

5. Act like you want to be there.

If you act like you wish you were working somewhere else the people above you may help make this come true. No one wants to be around someone who hates their job. Even other employees who may wish things were better still have to work there and you adding to their misery will not make you popular.

6. Be open to new things.

Everything changes. Companies adopt new technology, enter new markets and over time embrace new ideas. Companies that do not change lose market share and die. Every change is not successful. Know that sometimes your workplace will try new things and then revert back to the old way of doing things.

Being open to change will keep you on the team. Insisting that the new idea will not work and being unwilling to try it, will get you removed from the team even if it later turns out you were right. Being right is not much consolation for being unemployed. Be a team player and give the new plan at try.

7. Believe in what you’re doing.

If you do not think the thing you are doing or the place you work has value to society find another place to work. Why waste your life working at something that is a waste.

People who are enthusiastic about the work they do are better workers. Believing that your life work has meaning makes you happier and happy workers get more done.

If you are not sure, then try to think of all the ways what you are doing is of value. Your work may not have cosmic spiritual meaning, but what you do or make may contribute to meeting someone’s desire or needs and you are helping them be happy while the job keeps you in income to meet your needs.

8. Follow the rules.

Unless the rules are unsafe or downright immoral, the more you follow the company’s rules the more they will want you on the team. You may not see the reason for the rule but staying in step with the company helps keep the team together.

9. Be productive.

The more you get done the more the company needs and wants you.

You may do all these things and the workplace still lets you go. They may not see the good in what you do, they may need to cut people for the company to survive economically. You can do everything right and still bad things can happen. Buy the more you do to make yourself someone the company wants and needs to keep the better the chances you will be the one kept on when that great downsizing happens.

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended books.

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