How Safe Is Your Job?

By Paula Santonocito

Employee Badge Close-up with Female Worker PhotoWith layoffs, pay cuts, and furloughs all in the news, even the most accomplished single-minded woman has good reason to worry about job security.

Overall Outlook

In a tough economic environment, companies look at all kinds of cost-savings measures. Some have already trimmed staff, instituted hiring freezes, implemented pay cuts, and/or reduced the workweek.

It all translates to less opportunity from the standpoint of income, and more uncertainty.

Indeed, if anything is certain these days it’s that uncertainty rules.

Be that as it may, some good news has appeared on the horizon. Global consulting firm Watson Wyatt finds company cost-cuttings plans have slowed.

According to a survey the firm conducted in April, most companies are planning no further hiring freezes, organizational restructuring changes or layoffs. In addition, a majority is not planning any further salary reductions or salary freezes in the next 12 months.

In fact, Watson Wyatt finds that among 141 leading firms surveyed most are looking toward economic recovery and have begun to plan accordingly.

Company Circumstances

Still, it’s important to take survey data as intended; it’s an overview.

Your particular situation, while dictated in part by the economy, also depends on your employer’s circumstances.

In order to try and assess the situation, pay attention to your industry’s business climate.

Then, look at your company’s standing in the industry.

How does its sales compare to those of competitors? What’s the outlook for your company? What’s the outlook for your industry?

Does your company invest in research and development (R&D)? If so, is it bringing any exciting new products to market soon?

If you work in a service industry, how is the current demand for services? If business has slowed, what will jumpstart activity?

Also consider your company’s brand. Is it a household name? Is it associated with leading-edge ideas? Either suggests growth and brighter times ahead. On the other hand, if your company’s brand has been tainted by scandal, it could be a long road back from the dark place.

Your Situation

When evaluating job security, you also have to look at another factor, and that factor is your standing within the company. Admittedly, this can be really difficult to do, mainly because it requires brutal honest.

First, take stock of the basics.

How does the department in which you work contribute to the company’s overall objectives?

If your company makes widgets, for example, and you are in the department that produces the widgets, your department is essential. Unless of course the company’s widgets sales have fallen off a cliff and the warehouse is bursting with unsold widgets.

Look at your department, and then look at your position within the department. Are you one of 15 widget makers? Or are you the only widget maker?

Here’s where the honesty comes in. If you’re one of 15, how do you compare to your coworkers? Are you the best of the bunch?

If you’re the only widget maker, do you have other skills? If the company decides to suspend widget making for a while, can your expertise be utilized in another area? Do you know where you might make a contribution?

It can’t be emphasized enough: You should do your job to the best of your ability, and when possible up your game. This might require expanding your knowledge and skills, which will require additional effort on your part. However, by taking the initiative, you can increase your standing within the company, which will lead to greater job security.

Of course circumstances are sometimes beyond your control. Corporate decisions are not always wise or fair, and you still might find yourself with a pink slip in hand.

Fear not. If you’re a top performer who is expanding her knowledge and skills, you will be extremely appealing to other employers. And that’s real job security.

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