Nov. 15, 2012 – Reductions in force have been increasing in recent weeks as more employers adjust their workforces to meet current and anticipated demand. The end of the year is a more precarious time for employees who may be most vulnerable to reductions in force as companies reduce costs to get a fresher start next year.

“Although employees do not have much control over their company’s financial situation, there are ways workers can decrease the chances they will be affected and steps they can take to correct performance-related issues,” said Patty Prosser, chair of OI Partners, a leading global coaching and leadership development/consulting firm.

OI Partners offers these tips to employees to decrease their risk of being impacted:

  1. Outperform expectations in your job. “Go well above the minimum requirements and seek to make yourself indispensable. Demonstrate how motivated you are and gain a reputation as someone who consistently delivers more than expected,” said Prosser.
  2. Show you are a team player. Being part of a team is the number one quality employers desire in workers, according to an OI Partners survey. “This has taken on a higher priority since many companies are operating with leaner work forces and there is a greater need to accomplish goals through others,” said Prosser.
  3. Offer ideas that could help grow business or attract and retain customers. Be on the lookout for ways to increase revenue, profits, productivity and efficiency. “The more you do to help your company, the more valuable you become to them,” said Prosser.
  4. Be on time and dependable. “Follow company rules such as keeping your cell phone off during working hours and doing your job rather than excessively surfing the Internet. Don’t spread rumors or be an agitator. It is OK to ask relevant questions, but do not become the company malcontent,” said Prosser.
  5. Be positive and supportive. “It is contagious and encourages others to do the same,” said Prosser.
  6. Keep on top of the latest technology and new developments in your field. Take classes or workshops to stay current with advances in your profession and in other areas that have an impact on business.
  7. Set yourself apart. “Do something that will give you added recognition, such as write an article for a trade publication, or be a speaker at a conference. Volunteer to lead a special project, task force or charity drive to showcase your ability to take on responsibility,” said Prosser.

If you are among those employees being impacted, OI Partners recommends following these steps:

  • Explore whether you can work for your company as a contract or freelance employee.
  • Determine what severance pay and benefits you will receive.
  • Utilize career counseling you are given.
  • Request outplacement job-search assistance if it is not part of your severance package.
  • Familiarize yourself with your company’s severance policies, especially if you qualify for any enhanced severance formulas that use a combination of your age and seniority.

There are also measures employers can take to ease the transition of departing workers until they find new jobs. An OI Partners survey of displaced employees the firm has counseled during the past two years validates the value of providing outplacement career counseling services.

  • Six-Fold Improvement In Job-Search Skills: After receiving outplacement assistance, more than six times as many displaced employees reported having excellent or very good job search skills than before they entered the programs. Only 12% of terminated workers rated their job-search skills as excellent or very good before receiving outplacement compared with 78% who ranked their abilities that way afterward – an increase of 650%.
  • ‘Good’ or ‘Average’ Job-Search Skills Not Good Enough: Displaced employees who rated their job-search skills as only good or average before receiving outplacement services significantly upgraded their knowledge. 78% of former employees reported they had only good or average job-search skills before receiving outplacement, compared to just 21% afterward – a decline of 73%.

“Terminated employees continue to enter a very challenging job market. Some have not looked for new employment in several years and their job-search skills are rusty or outdated. Other former employees are experiencing their first reductions in force and need additional resources and support to cope with the stress and anxiety,” added Prosser.

“In such a competitive job environment, it is not good enough for terminated workers to only have ‘good’ or ‘average’ job-search skills. Their job-search skills must be equal to or exceed their career knowledge and experience in order to be able to successfully compete and gain new employment,” Prosser said.

Companies can provide outplacement career counseling to departing employees to ease their transition. “Outplacement assistance upholds the morale of workers who remain as well as those who are displaced. It reduces employees’ anxiety and reflects corporate social responsibility,” Prosser said.

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