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3 Steps to Keep Your Job Safe During COVID-19 Redundancies & Mass Layoffs

Posted on Apr 15, 2020 by Ulrich Schild

Let’s face it 2019 was a tough year and we were all looking forward to a better 2020 and the start of a new decade. But, look at what has happened. It got worse, in ways none of us could have predicted. The raging and absolutely devastating bushfires continued devastating large swaths of Australia until March. Meanwhile, Covid-19 arrived and has since changed every aspect of our lives. From a jobs perspective, the employment market has been hit harder than at any time since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Whilst it is certainly challenging, I remain an optimist and I am confident that things will get better. However, I am also a realist and a pragmatist. I believe that there is a definite possibility that things will get worse before they get better. So, I suggest you take action now to help safeguard your employment.

I have some insight and tips which have already helped a number of my clients to retain their positions and also helped some of them back into paid work and even full-time employment.

Employees with the highest ROI are more likely to keep their jobs.

As an HR manager who’s regularly been on the planning side of layoffs, I can tell you that in a time of economic crisis, companies focus on keeping employees with the greatest return on investment (ROI).

But, who decides whether you stay or go and how is that defined?
Generally, your employer looks at the total cost of employing or contracting you (salary, benefits, etc.) and compares it with your output. If they can’t justify that your individual productivity levels make or save the company enough money to cover the cost of employing you, then you’re most likely on the layoff or contract cancellation list.

Here are 3 typical employees or contractors who make it onto the ‘let go’ list:

  1. You’re a manager or project contractor making six figures, with several people reporting to you. The company looks at the workload and realises if they let you go and have your employees report to your boss, they can save money.
  2. You’re an entry-level worker responsible for some tasks that have no direct impact on sales or customer satisfaction. Your job could be viewed as non-essential to the business and worth eliminating to cut costs.
  3. You have a job that is important, but there are other people in a similar role. You’ve been there a long time, picked up numerous pay raises and you’re at the top of the pay scale for your skill set. In our shared Covid-19 reality, your tenure means nothing. If the company can keep someone performing a similar role at a lower price, or outsource the work, or delay the work to a future time in order to save money, then it makes financial sense to let you go.

In short, anyone who can’t justify his or her value is at risk.

Always make sure the service you provide exceeds expectations.

Smart professionals don’t see themselves as employees.

They understand they’re a business-of-one and they focus on delivering a service that exceeds their internal (a.k.a. employer’s) & external customer’s expectations all the time. They know that in times like a recession, employers will be forced to rethink which services to keep and which to let go.

Just as we all focus on eliminating the non-essentials when our personal finances are tight, employers do the same. So, when you analyse your value proposition and work to ensure that it’s high, you can reduce the likelihood of being let go – made redundant – getting laid off.

In fact, when done right you become more valuable, because the employer knows your higher level of productivity and output may be a key to help successfully navigate the recession.

3 simple tips to help you keep your job in times like these

1. Do a salary assessment. Sites like Glassdoor now offer comprehensive salary research tools that let you know how your salary compares with your co-workers. It will also tell you how your salary ranks against your peers by region, skill level, and industry. The key is to make sure you aren’t too high on the salary range.

My tip: Meet with your employer and signal that you are ready to help them through tough times during a recession, possibly be even taking a temporary salary cut (or course aim to have this formalised to return to your previous level at a defined time).

2. Create a business plan for your job. Sit with your boss and map out your goals for the next fortnight or month and offer to repeat that exercise every month. Ensure to be clear on how your efforts link directly to revenue or cost savings. Come up with a set of metrics you can track and present to management to validate you’re delivering value and exceeding expectations.

My tip: Show your commercial skills and mediate and negotiate your value every month. Seek out help from career coaches and HR professionals if you need assistance to formulate your plan.

3. Invest some time on your career strategy. Knowing which skills you should be developing to stay competitive in the marketplace and building a game plan to grow those skills is vital to keeping your business-of-one competitive and agile.

My tip: This is the perfect time to network and scale up your brand and professional support network as an insurance policy. That way, if you do end up being part of a layoff, you’ll be fully prepared to kick-start your job search.

Do all you can to hold on to your job. Don’t wait. Hope and fear are your enemies during a crisis like Covid-19. Do what you can do now. By making sure the value you deliver is in alignment with the needs of your employer, you can dramatically increase the chances your job will be saved.

If you need help, reach out in a professional manner.

Keep your head up high, stay safe and always remember to hunt wisely!


For more on the topics of Smart Job Hunting and Career Change or Recruiting and Outplacement, including best practices that reduce bias in evaluations and your job applications, please feel free to read my blogs and articles here on LinkedIn.

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