A Recession Is Not the Time to Shirk At Your Job

by Hank Coleman

My uncle recently switched jobs a few months ago.  He is one of the lucky ones who found a new job with better benefits when the economy was starting its decline.  He is a welder by trade and makes decent money.  But, even with a job that is needed in some capacity through good times and bad, my uncle found his new employer laying off workers.

layoffsAnd, of course, my uncle does not have any seniority since he just started working at the new job.  But, after laying off thirty-one welders with more seniority yesterday, my uncle still has a job this morning.  Why?  Because my uncle is a hard worker, does what he is told, shows up on time, and contributes to the company’s success.  The people that the company let go were the employees who did not show up to work on time, did not pull their own weight, and do not take ownership in the company’s achievements.

Give 100% Effort At Work.  Now that there is an official recession and companies are cutting back on EVERYTHING, it is not the time to bring negative attention to yourself because of poor performance.  As the case with my uncle, trouble making employees are often the first to be let go even before junior workers with no seniority.

Their Success Is Your Success.  Even if many of us do not have direct ownership in the profits our employers make, we do have a direct stake in making sure that our employers stay profitable, healthy, and in business.  We should all strive to help our employers cut costs, sell its products or services, and boosts any and all profits it squeaks out.  How many of us go home at the end of the day or out to the bar at night and talk bad about the company we work for?

Some other tips to help you keep your job in these troubling times are…

  • Document your successes at work
  • Take high profile extra assignments
  • Take tasks that no one else wants
  • Continue your education and professional development
  • Find a mentor
  • Perform to high standards and make sure your boss knows
  • Have a good attitude
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J. Money February 4, 2009 at 4:13 pm

Amen brotha! While I’m actually “working” as I type here, i do find it best to give it your all 100% and make sure you have your stuff covered. Or even better, going BEYOND your duties and picking up the slack from the other ones around the office!

Now, I better get back to it 😉

Kate Kashman February 9, 2009 at 11:44 am

This is the exact same advice I’ve been giving family members! After so many years of being able to slack at work, it can be hard for some people to remember how to be productive.

My cousin just recently got a new job, but the hirer told her that he had 150 qualified applicants. She said the pressure is immense.

I find that I am working twice as hard as before just to keep up.

Thank you!

Funny about Money February 10, 2009 at 1:41 pm

Speaking for us contrarians… If you know you’re about to be canned, it’s ridiculous to bust your butt for an employer who will toss you out in the snow whether you’re the highest-producing employee or not. There’s not a thing your hard work will do to change the ambient factors that are dragging corporations down (by “ambient factors” I mean a collapsing economy). When a company is downsizing or shutting down, its owners don’t give a darn how wonderful you are. It’s saving the cost of your wages and benefits that matters.

My employer has delivered a 12% salary cut in the form of “furloughs” that are supposed to go through the end of this fiscal year. No one believes that our base salaries will remain the same at the beginning of next FY — either the mandatory furloughs will continue or we will all get a pay cut. While I recognize that this is (allegedly) a strategy to avoid more layoffs than already are happening (1,000+ people are to be canned between now and June 30) and while I am, yes I am, grateful to have a job for the time being, it does nothing to make me want to throw myself around in my employer’s cause.

The truth is, as state employees, we have historically been among the lowest-paid in the country. To give you an idea: my associate editor earns more waiting tables part-time at Applebee’s than she does applying her substantial skills and her master’s degree to our employer’s chores. A couple of years ago the state gave all its workers a 6.2% increase that was supposed to bring our wages roughly in line with states ranking about 25th out of 50 in pay. Within three months, the university had erased that gain by a) switching us to biweekly pay, engineering a substantial de-facto pay cut and b) raising the cost of parking to astronomical levels. Exploitation of this nature does not breed eager beavers.

Anne February 12, 2009 at 8:11 pm

Good list. The last one, especially, seems so innocuous and yet is so important. It can also make a huge difference in performance reviews.

Even on the days when my boss is in a bad mood (she’s actually the boss, in charge of the whole organization, so she doesn’t have to worry about being crabby) I make sure that I am all smiles and helpfulness. On the worst days you’ll probably need to go into the bathroom and make snarly faces at the stall door but, hey, your boss won’t be able to come up with any instances of you not appearing to be thrilled to be at work. I can be cranky on my own time – and I frequently am – but she doesn’t pay me to do that.

Finance February 8, 2010 at 5:08 am

Nice post about recession of the world. Very informative!

Penge August 10, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Thanks a lot at very good advice

Scott @ Youthfulinvestor April 16, 2013 at 9:43 pm

I have seen so many times, good economy or bad, great workers sticking around while more experienced and more qualified workers getting let go. No one has the time, money and patience to put up with someone who cannot show up on time, always complains and isn’t interested in helping out the company.

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