The best possible way to deal with job uncertainty is accepting the fact that it could happen to anyone and if it does, then it is important to work on a multi-pronged strategy on how to get through it in the best possible manner, advises Sumit Sabharwal.
The recent spate of layoffs in the IT sector has put a real dampener on the job market. The pandemic accelerated technology adoption and the demand for talent.
Now rising inflation and growing recession fears has resulted in companies trimming their workforce to save their bottom line.
The retrenchment tracker Layoffs.fyi has put the count at 101,807 in 2023. This is staggering compared to 150,000 job losses in 2022.
In India, 140 companies -- mostly startups -- have had to let go of nearly 22,000 people in all.
Losing a full-time job or witnessing colleagues leaving the workplace is a stressful situation for any professional.
Those who have not experienced such a situation may be wondering whether their company will also announce job cuts.
It is normal to do so because such events affect the ability to stay motivated and work efficiently.
It is a tough situation to be in, especially when there is no formula that can guarantee to help you retain your job.
That said, there are things you should do to help you deal with unemployment or if you fear that you may be handed the pink slip.
1. Be Prepared For Change
A secure job has a lulling effect, leaving you vulnerable to the reality of work life -- that is, changes in the team will result in more responsibilities, increased scrutiny on performance, and you will be expected to work on less desirable projects.
Be prepared to accept such changes with an open mind, taking them head on as an opportunity to learn or reinvent the way you approach the assignment.
A positive and can-do attitude also make for excellent traits in the resume.
While you are at it, always make a note of your achievements -- even if your job is secure -- and update your resume regularly.
You never know when you may need to start hunting for a new job and you do not want to waste precious time reworking your portfolio.
2. Be Open To Different Projects
Everybody joins with a set of expectations of what they want to do at their workplace. However, the reality is that you may not always get to do what you love.
Sometimes the work may not be challenging or interesting enough either.
Being choosy will be regarded as a negative attribute even if you are an efficient worker with excellent grades.
Be open to different projects and you will be surprised when you look back at the experience you never expected to gain.
Expect your team to feel the effects of losing colleagues.
There will be fewer people to share the workload with and everyone will have to wear multiple hats. In such a situation, don't beat yourself over it.
Instead, work out a way in which your team can function cohesively, picking up slack for each other wherever possible to complete tasks and avoid burning out.
3. Upgrade And Expand Your Skillset
Market conditions have forced some companies to make difficult decisions but take heed in the fact that they will start scoping for skilled professionals again in the future.
So continue to work upon your area of expertise by adding industry-recognised certifications, take on freelance projects to gain more experience and build a portfolio that can be showcased in interviews when the hiring freeze comes to an end.
Alternatively, you could also use the time to augment your resume with a skill that gives you an immediate boost in the market.
Adding a project or product management certification to your tech background, for instance, could get you a more senior role later.
4. Keep A Record
Every employee's performance is measured against a set of criteria.
At times, even the manager may not be completely aware of the team's performance and past achievements.
Always keep track of the projects you have completed, KPIs you have fulfilled and exceeded, acknowledgements you may have received during your tenure, along with other team-building accomplishments at the workplace.
This builds a case of an employee who is a team player, productive and goal-oriented.
5. Prioritise Your Health
Layoff fears can trigger anxiety and affect mental health adversely. Instead of focusing on the 'what if' and 'why', make an effort to stay positive by doing things that make you happy.
Friends and family are the best support system for whenever you feel that the situation is getting too much handle by yourself.
Do not let your work crisis affect your health - eat the right food, practise meditation or mindful breathing, and sleep well.
Creating a healthy routine like this will help you stay grounded and positive.
You could also engage in a hobby, start journaling the things you are grateful about, or take up a sport that will get the endorphins flowing, make you engage with others and keep your mind off the things that trigger tension.
6. Be Ethical
It is important to understand that there are others who are also being affected by the cost cutting measures, increased performance evaluations and mass layoffs.
Do not resort to unethical methods to avoid getting laid off and while scoping for vacancies within or outside the organisation.
Be conscious of the fact that your unethical actions may come to light sooner or later and affect your life at home and work.
Do not risk your professional reputation while leaving the company either.
Remember, it is very easy to lose credibility in the industry and extremely difficult to restore it.
7. Cut Your Own Costs
Follow basic fiscal practises keeping a worst-case scenario, of losing a steady source of income, in mind.
Keep aside a certain percentage of your salary in a separate account or reinvest the money in low-risk, tax-saving options.
Be mindful of frivolous expenses and avoid major outlays unless an emergency arises; ideally postpone them for later until the employment scene improves.
This ensures that you have enough liquidity in the bank to see you through several months of unemployment.
Retrenchment is without doubt a very difficult phase for IT companies and even more so for employees who must face the brunt of market headwinds.
Sugar-coating the problem or avoiding it will not help solve it.
The best possible way to deal with job uncertainty is accepting the fact that it could happen to anyone and if it does, then it is important to work on a multi-pronged strategy, like listed here, on how to get through it in the best possible manner.
Sumit Sabharwal is Head of Human Resources, Fujitsu Global Delivery Centers.
In his current role, he leads multi-country, multi-disciplinary teams, heading a team of close to 300 HR professionals, supporting business headcount of close to 20,000 employees.
Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com