Few things employees should do during an economic slowdown

Surviving or falling victim to an economic slowdown or layoff can be a subject of luck, but still there are certain things that an employee should do to keep the fight on. Here is what some senior HR leaders advise.

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Thousands of jobs have disappeared in a flash as employees are being laid off in auto, textile and now even in the FMCG sector. The availability of job opportunities seems bleak and the confidence among aspiring candidates might have taken a hit. Layoffs are inevitable but employees can prepare for such situations to ensure they remain relevant.

Whether it is economic slowdowns or company downturns, they happen periodically and eventually some employees get laid off. Such processes are inevitable. It is up to the employee to ensure that he/she remains relevant so that during mass layoffs, they remain on the safe side. However while safe, every employee should keep pushing to remain valuable. Traditional jobs which were valued 10-15 years ago have already lost their relevance. Workplaces are becoming more dynamic and continuously changing. Slowdown or not, these tips will ensure that employees stay and remain relevant.

Reskill and Upskill

The first is to do is to keep reskilling and upskilling, always. People who perform repetitive roles or those that do not require much skill are always the top choices to be laid off. More than often, people being laid off constitute middle management who have neglected to upskill themselves to stay relevant. Nowadays businesses rise fast and may sink equally fast. With the rate of change increasing, upskilling has become essential. Further, reskilling strengthens core competencies as the employee revisits the basics.

“Personally I do not believe in layoffs but would advise that going back to the roots is what an employee should do. In my career I have found this approach to be invaluable in improving oneself and building confidence,” concurs Ravi Kyran, CHRO, Bajaj Auto limited.

Reskilling and upskilling can also mean upgrading in multiple disciplines. Employees should aspire to have multiple skills. For example management professionals can be well versed in psychology or a journalist can have additional knowledge of graphics and editing. Having multiple skills opens one up for many possible roles and ensures permanency.

Ravi Kyran

“Personally I do not believe in layoffs but would advise that going back to the roots is what an employee should do. In my career I have found this approach to be invaluable in improving oneself and building confidence”

Don’t be improvident

Second, employees need to have the foresight and an understanding of things to come. It is vital that one understands the future relevance of the job he/she is doing. Looking at both present and future will give an idea as to how much improvement is needed.

Raj Raghavan, senior VP – HR, Indigo Airlines, emphasises how valuable it is to understand the industry. He says, “It is important to be aware of the industry which one works in, be aware of which cycle the industry is in and learn to recognise the trends. This will ensure one is prepared and be able to predict the next slowdown or upturn. I have seen people working multiple jobs to add value to their skillsets.”

Be rational and reasonable

Third is attitude. Upskilling to retain a job cannot be enough. The will to learn and a ‘can-do’ attitude is what cements an employee’s position in an organisation. Many a time, employees might find themselves engaging in tasks previously done by a junior. Flexibility and a pragmatic attitude towards situations will prove useful.

When layoff is inevitable

During layoffs, a company will naturally try to retain the best talent and let go of NPAs or less relevant job roles. It is possible sometimes that that high performing employees are let go. In such cases, talented employees might find themselves browsing the market again.

Relationships are built at the workplace and biases may occur during lay-offs. Getting back on track can be tough but not impossible if one follows the right steps.

Raj Raghavan

“It is important to be aware of the industry which one works in, be aware of which cycle the industry is in and learn to recognise the trends. This will ensure one is prepared and be able to predict the next slowdown or upturn”

Real-time networking

The first step is to keep networking. It can be meeting people for coffee or connecting with them through social media. Building relationships with industry peers will broaden one’s perspective and increase chances of being considered for other positions. And this is not just during lay-offs but all the time. Ideally, one should focus on contacting thought leaders who have already proven their ability to stay relevant in the field. Consistent networking is the key.

Be participative on social media

Second, it is important to increase visibility on social media. Merely being on social media is not enough. Writing posts, liking content others have posted, sharing and tagging others and conversing with diverse people in the field is important. Similar to networking, consistency is the key here as well.

Chandrasekhar Mukharjee

“Sound financial management is vital for employees. It aids in mentally preparing for the tough times ahead and survive until the next opportunity comes along”

Financial Cleverness

Third is financial management. It might take time to find another job and employees are vulnerable to financial shocks during lay-offs. Sound management will help them absorb these shocks and remain afloat during slowdowns.

As Chandrasekar Mukherjee advises, “Sound financial management is vital for employees. It aids in mentally preparing for the tough times ahead and survive until the next opportunity comes along.”

Investing in professional development shows initiative and curiosity as well demonstrates that one is willing to learn, which is what hiring managers want to see in candidates. Companies are in constant competition and they need people who can help them stay ahead in the game. Adopting such a work ethic will improve one’s candidacy.

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