5 Steps to Combat Layoff Anxiety

Employees are inundated by negative headlines and workplace gossip about the possibility of layoffs. Here’s what you can do about it.

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About half of Americans feel “layoff stress,” according to a 2019 Harris Poll study. Reasons for this stress include layoff rumors, fears of a recession and witnessing recent layoffs within the organization.

This study was completed in 2019 prior to the COVID pandemic, so that proportion is likely even higher in the midst of the pandemic — especially in the aftermath of layoff announcements from high profile companies (e.g., Wells Fargo and Exxon).

What can you do to regain control when it comes to the future of your career?

  1. Have a solid financial safety net. Assume that it will take you longer than you expect to recover your income than you think in case of a layoff. A popular rule of thumb is that it would take about one month of job searching to make $10k in income. A conservative approach would be to assume this as you build your liquid savings. Having financial security will allow you to make better overall career decisions.
  2. Focus on improving your transferrable skills. If you get laid off, you may need to pivot, especially if your industry is universally suffering. Some skills will translate into any industry (i.e., communication, leadership, relationship building, time management, etc.). These will allow you to be resilient in the event of job loss because and know that you have skills to fall back on, no matter what position you’re in.
  3. Continue to do amazing work at your current job. This principle can get overlooked when you’re worried about the future of your career. I have seen instances where people are so worried about the latest layoff rumors that they become distracted from their existing job, and their work suffers. Don’t forget to keep doing the best you can in your current position. Hit deadlines, and stay curious and innovative.
  4. Be aware of your mindset. This is such a massive topic. You might have to dig deep into why you are so worried about your livelihood and the future of your career. What beliefs do you have about money and jobs? Dave Ramsey conducted a study of over 10,000 millionaires, and found that 97% of millionaires simply believed that they could become millionaires. Work on adopting the mindset that you can do it — that you are good at your job and can make money. A deeply held self-image of competence and confidence can make the process of actually accomplishing your career goals more frictionless (and less stressful). You are worthy of making money, and you will be okay.
  5. Always have a Plan B. How will you make money if something happens to your main income stream? Maybe your Plan B is an existing side hustle that you could grow into a full time gig. Or maybe you could pivot to another area within your company that always has job openings. Or maybe you could live off of passive income from something like rental properties while you look for a new job. Having a solid Plan B is all about laying the groundwork for an alternate income stream, job, or career path before you actually need it.

Follow these five steps so that the next time there are whispers of layoffs at your job, you will feel the confidence of being prepared for whatever turn your career journey make take.

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Content Creator, Career Strategist, Host of the Future-Proof Career Podcast. Connect at valeriezaric.com/medium.