MANY professionals have felt the shock of layoffs during the current downturn, even those who have kept their jobs.
According to financial recruitment firm Robert Half, employees who survive a round of redundancies often have to manage heavier workloads and stay motivated while worrying that their jobs could be eliminated next.
"It is natural for people to have mixed feelings about keeping their jobs when colleagues have been let go," says Mr Tim Hird, managing director of Robert Half International, Singapore.
"Layoff survivors often experience guilt about being the ones who stay while at the same time having to work in an environment marked by uncertainty."
According to Mr Hird, professionals who are spared from layoffs should not pretend it is business as usual. "This is the time to work closely with your manager to ensure your workload reflects company priorities.
"It is also important to stay positive during these challenging times, as losing good people inevitably affects overall employee morale.
"The more you can do to lift the collective spirit, the better off you and your team will be."
Here are some tips for survivors:
1. Make yourself indispensable
Focus your efforts on projects that help boost your company's bottom line. Take courses to learn skills that allow you to contribute in new ways.
2. Build visibility
In uncertain times, it is important to be noticed for the right reasons.
Volunteer for projects that no one wants to tackle or those that fall outside your job description. Also provide periodic reports to update your supervisor on your achievements.
3. Adapt to change
Managers appreciate employees who are able to deal with difficult situations emotionally as well as maintain productivity when faced with adversity. Demonstrate your ability to stay positive, motivated and focused on doing good work.
4. Conduct an audit
Now is the time to be nimble. Evaluate current processes and offer suggestions for cutting costs or saving your company time or resources.
5. Avoid the rumour mill
While increased water cooler chatter is inevitable after company downsizing, avoid contributing to the gossip. In addition, don't believe everything you hear.
If you have questions about your company's direction, ask your manager but understand that he may not have all the answers.
6. Be generous with praise
After downsizing, employees may begin to doubt their abilities and question their own future with the company.
If you are a manager, you may not be in a position to make promises of job security, but you can give direct reports or positive feedback on their performance during these challenging times.
7. Reach out
Offer assistance to those who have experienced a job loss by introducing them to your professional network and helping them with their job search.
8. Look out for yourself
Layoff survivors often experience increased workloads, which can lead to burnout.
Talk to your manager about setting priorities, delegating projects or bringing in contract professionals.
It is also important for employees to be aware of the realities of their organisations.
Mr Hird concludes: "Those who think their job may be in jeopardy should focus on reactivating their professional networks, taking stock of their skills and accomplishments, and putting together a strong curriculum vitae."