It is never a pleasant feeling for any individual when he or she is given the pink slip. The word ‘dismissal’ is a dreaded one as it brings before eyes all the situations like loss of social status, financial hard times such as inability to pay rent, insurance, mortgage and insecurity about further career prospects.
But if you look at the whole process then the layoff or dismissal does not happen overnight nor does it happen without any reasons(s). Of course, we are not talking of exceptions here. So to avoid such a disaster happening to you or your near and dear one, would it not be nice to know that: How safe is your job? Are you at the risk of being fired?
Before proceeding to know about the indicators, let us briefly look at the type of factors which can influence the sacking of an employee or a group of employees. There can be basically three broad categories or a combination of them and these are:
I. External Factors relating to Job Security
These are purely outside the control of your employers collectively or individually. These reasons could be economical, political, compliance or technology related. For example, if your company is in liquor business and a particular state government in your country decides to enforce total prohibition. Naturally the company will lose the sales in that state and this will force job cuts.
Recently, the authorities, India decided to seriously look into the ban of diesel vehicles to cut down on air pollution in New Delhi and surrounding area (NCR). If this concept gives beneficial results, then it may be introduced more enthusiastically and over a larger area. Thus it would not be long before the automobile industry decides to shut down the production of diesel engines in the country forcing some job cuts while some other may be shifted.
A third example is not so recent but is related to change of technology. Only a few years ago, pagers were very popular means of instant messaging until mobile phones became popular and affordable. Now the customer had a better choice of sending a text message or calling the other person. Suddenly no one wanted a pager. You can well imagine the reason that why all those working for pager companies lost their jobs.
II. Internal Factors influencing Security of Job
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Continuing with our example of telecom industry, we all know about the high and low phases of BlackBerry Limited. There was a time when a BlackBerry mobile phone was considered a must for all business owners, entrepreneurs, CEO s, COO s and CTO s, whereas now it nowhere on the wish list of anyone. Without going into the reasons, it was quite clear that time ran out for BlackBerry. The company announced 4,500 job cuts and it would have reported a net operating loss of nearly $1 billion.
Similarly, there can be many more reasons such as cost cutting or relocation which may force a particular organisation to either close down completely or resort to mass lay off, forcing many individuals to jobless, at least for some time.
III. Individual related Factors indicating Job Security and Safety of Job
This is the most crucial and important group of factors which are largely well within the control of each person who is employed. The purpose of this article is to dwell on a few of important reasons as well as indicators which may lead to dismissal from the job. Also if checked well in time, it may not only save the person his job but he may impress his bosses and employers to have a good career.
1. Poor Performance
Compared to the previous year, you have a definite feeling that your output has gone down. It is not important that what are the reasons or circumstances responsible for this but in the eyes of the employer you have been less productive than the previous year(s).
Even if you are maintaining the same performance how do you expect receive more salary now? Would it not lead to increased cost to the company? In fact the ground reality is that someone junior than you may be more energetic and better performer than you and is willing to work for less!
Even average performers need to be contended. Just managing to meet the targets is no longer the guarantee to your job safety. To earn rewards and keep the job safe, an employee must be able to show incremental growth. While someone with annual performance of 6% to 8% may not get sacked, but he may fall behind in comparison to others who are performing better.
2. Lack of relevant technical skills
Technology is fast changing. New methods and technique are always evolving replacing the old methods. Whether you are in IT field or Machine Maintenance or Manufacturing or a Scientist, you have to remain informed of the new technology and techniques in your field. Depending on your field and expertise, perhaps once in a year or more frequently, a serious update is required to acquire new skills.
If you are not doing anything to learn seriously whether online or through class room training, then you should take it that soon someone better, smarter and more qualified than you is likely to replace you. Perhaps he will be less expensive and younger too. The message here is to constantly upskill yourself to stay relevant and useful for your employer.
3. Behavioral Issues
Interpersonal skills are important anywhere but are critical at the workplace.
Even if you score very high on performance, experience, academic and professional qualifications but have trouble getting along with your colleagues, seniors and juniors, your job is in danger. During downsizing exercise, when HR and Departmental Heads get together to make a list of people to be retrenched, they first want to get rid of difficult employees. Nobody minds a cheerful, obedient, friendly and cooperative person even if his performance or other parameters are just about OK but an employee with an attitude is first to be pointed out. Please see How to be a Great Boss at Workplace
If you don’t have a cordial relationship with your co-workers, mend the fences before it’s too late. Talk to your colleague with whom you have had unpleasant exchange of words. You might not enjoy the conversation, but this approach could help save your job. Also please see Soft Skills which can help you move ahead in career
Equally important is to be in the good books of the boss. Therefore, make a sincere effort to always have a great equation with your boss even if he is not Mr. Right always – because nobody is perfect in this world. If there is a misunderstanding immediately reach out and discuss the issue. Never discuss the prickly issues publicly or be ready to have a confrontation with your boss. Even if you are right, there is not likely to benefit you or the issue.
This is no way to suggest that you should be a “yes man” or a sycophant. Flattery will not take you very far. The other factors will count too.
4. Less important responsibilities
You have been with the current organisation for a reasonable period of time now and you are well qualified. However you notice that more important responsibilities are slipping out of your hands and being given to someone else. While it may make some people happy that they are less loaded with responsibilities and they have to work less now. But certainly it is not a good indicator as far the safety of job is concerned.
There is every reason for you to be concerned and take a corrective action to keep your career moving up. You may ask your boss for some challenging or volunteer to take up some additional duties. This will also act as a check that you are not being deliberately neglected.
More work coming your way is an indication that your company has faith in your abilities.
5. Limited talent or creativity
Gone are the days when one could get a job on the basis of his educational qualifications and stay secured in the job forever due to his honesty and loyalty. Now the viewpoints have changed. The current way to look at the usefulness of an employee is “How much creativity does he have to come up with unique or clever ideas, or develop smart ways to solve a problem?”
Well yes, there may be less need to be innovative on a production line job, while it would high in marketing or related jobs.
6. Below average pay rise
Your annual salary increment throws out a lot of hints about your future in your company, last performance in absolute as well as relative terms, your company business performance and how the industry is doing. It should not take an expert to decipher most of the information. For example, if the industry is growing and the financial newspapers have reported an average of 11% of salary increase and if you are much below then you need to sit up and take a serious note of it.
Your below average hike, is an obvious indicator of the fact that you are not in the good books of your employers / bosses. Your name may be in the first list to be laid off if the company starts downsizing.
You may also like to read How to Earn More Money in Career or Business
7. Limited or no trust of the Boss in you
Does your boss ignore you during the departmental meetings? Are you not the one who is told to prepare that important presentation or meet that ‘big client’?
Well it is time that you started saying “yes” to opportunities that come your way, even if it is smallest of the opportunity. Do not forget that even the smallest of responsibilities have an impact on the big picture. In addition, putting your best self forward will make you feel positive and proud of yourself, and that’s something your boss is sure to notice.
You may also like : How to get your boss to like you
8. You are not being given any key role
Sometimes the inevitable loss of the job may have nothing to do with the individual or his capabilities.
You could be an excellent resource and performing very well. But still you lost your job because of a certain strategic shift in your company’s business strategy. For example, your company’s main business is to manufacture and sell FMCG products and you are in the IT division managing specific jobs of SEO and SMO. Now the top management has decided to outsource this service to an external company. Simply stated, only if your work profile is core or critical for the survival of the business, your job is safe.
Under these circumstances, stay alert and keep your ears to the ground. If you come to know of any strategic change in the way the company looks at your division, then be ready to jump out.
Please refer to How to Turbo Boost Your Career
9. You are not being consulted on important issues
Are your expert opinions and ideas not being given any importance in the company? If your boss takes your advice and values your suggestions to improve processes and functioning of the organisation then you are an asset for the organisation. But if nobody asks for your opinion and you are kept in the dark about what’s going on, then you are exposed to potential risk of losing your job any time soon.
Ignoring the ground reality or withdrawing into a shell will not help. Try to comprehend the reasons why you are being sidelined and then approach your boss for feedback, suggestions and corrective action.
To sum up
These days, “downsizing” and “right size” are buzz words in the business organizations. Human Resource Department uses such words to explain the reason for its employee. However, no one is a fool to touch a productive human resource who has been performing consistently. In fact, such persons are rewarded with regular promotions, salary increase, rewards and other perks in an effort to retain its most precious resource – human resource.
Therefore, your first goal should be to keep your job by watching out for any negative indicators as they serve the purpose of flashing warning lights on your face. Your second goal should be to perform exceedingly well in any organisation you are working so that your career touches great heights and you have a steady job, security and all the good reasons for being successful as you are viewed as Mr. Indispensable.
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About the Author
Sundeep Kataria is the CEO of ACS Consultants – a Management Consulting Firm. He holds multiple qualifications: MBA, PGDIT (IIFT), MS in Counselling & Psychotherapy and Diploma in Company Law. He has also formally learnt Digital Marketing and Website Making.
In 1995 he pioneered the concept of professional Career Counselling, Executive Coaching and Mentoring. Over the years he has mentored many professionals, like CAs, Engineers, Sales & Marketing Professionals, IT Experts etc.
The unique style of Sundeep Kataria is that he connects with each and every individual personally, holds in depth discussion before undertaking the assignment.