With layoffs there are no guarantees.  You can do everything right and still be laid off with little warning.  Sometimes entire departments will disappear through no fault of their own.  Having survived through numerous layoffs during my long career in Programming I think I have learned some tips to pass along.

The Basics

Do a Good Job

This is the obvious one.  Managers  will often use a company dictated layoffs to get rid of anyone they consider “marginal.”  And conversely they are slow to get rid of their best performers because they think they might need them in the future.

Be Reliable

For the same reasons as above anyone considered to be unreliable will be at risk.

Be Friendly

Nobody wants to work with a grump.  Often upper management decides how many people must be laid off.  But it is often up to middle and lower management to suggest names.  This may be the time to get rid of the grumps that bring down morale for the rest of their group.

Get Along With Your Coworkers

For morale reasons managers are hesitant to get rid of people that everyone likes.  I’ve seen popular people survive a layoff when more talented people are let go, simply based on their popularity.

Don’t Miss Work

This is related to being reliable.  Managers need people that are around when expected.  Don’t interpret this to mean you don’t take your vacation time.  Vacations are known in advance and managers are used to working with them.  I’m talking about unexpected absences that can cause a gap in the whole group’s efficiency.

Be Indispensable

Be the one that knows how to do many things, even some of the jobs that nobody wants to do.  Managers are hesitant to get rid of those people.  Don’t overdo this by refusing to teach your coworkers certain jobs.  Being the one who does the teaching helps to make you indispensable!

Be Flexible

Don’t be one of those “It’s not my job” types.  Be the one who is helpful at getting things done.  And don’t interpret this one as doing too many jobs.  You’ll end up doing a bad job at everything.  I’m just talking about being flexible.  The side benefit of this is that learning new jobs might make you eligible for promotions in the future!

Keep Health Issues To Yourself

This is an unfortunate one to have to mention.  There are some companies that will actually look for ways to get rid of employees that are chronically ill.  Many companies have health insurance plans where they are at least partially self insured.  Some might go so far as to lay off a cancer patient to lessen a future expense.  Of course they will trump up some other reason but that is difficult to prove.

Make Age Less Apparent

Ageism is a fact of life.  Unfortunately many corporations want to get rid of their older workers.  They want to get rid of their usually higher salaries and higher potential health insurance costs.  Best way to fight this is to keep doing a good job, being the one who trains new employees and keeping up with technology.  In short, try to make age “not a visible issue” as much as possible.

Be Truly Helpful To The Boss

To be blunt I’m definitely not suggesting “brown nosing” here.  What I mean is remember your boss is a human and your motives must be genuine.  They can spot simple “brown nosers” a mile away!  Do what you can to help with their problems and try to understand their point of view.  Often they have the same fears as you except the good ones feel concern for their entire group.  Is one of your boss’s jobs something that you can volunteer to do without hurting the quality of your own work?  Again this could be a stepping stone to more responsibility as a side benefit.  And a manager is unlikely to want to get rid of someone who genuinely tries to lessen their load.

Volunteer, Within Reason

Similar to the above and being flexible, volunteering is always good, unless it means you are taking too much on and your “real” job is suffering.

Go the Extra Mile

Doing a little more than the minimum goes a long way toward not making you an obvious lay off target.  And doing it just a little better makes you feel good about yourself anyway!

Keep Up With Technology

Technology is so important today that you must keep up with it.  Become the expert at whatever technologies your organization is using.  And keep up with what your industry is doing.

Always Be Prepared

Even while following these tips and with the best of effort a layoff can happen at any time to anyone.

Six Months Minimum Expenses

This is what the financial experts suggest and for good reason.  If a layoff does come your way a financial cushion keeps it from feeling like quite so much of a crisis.  Layoffs are a fact of life in the modern workplace and being prepared just makes sense.

Always Be Job Hunting – Privately

This is a suggestion I have come to learn over the years.  It often seems that employees are more loyal to their company than their company is to them.  This is probably left over from the days when many people worked their entire life for the same company.

The best way to deal with this might be to always be looking for your next job.  Keep it quiet, but do it.  You don’t have to take any job you don’t want, but it just makes sense in today’s work environment.

Photo by Arlington Research on Unsplash