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5 Ways to Avoid the Layoff List

July 02, 2014 by Raymond Lee

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Layoffs are inevitable. Just take a look at Daily Job Cuts and see all of the companies having to downsize. All businesses will experience expansion and contraction at different times of their business cycle. Unfortunately, human resources and management have the difficult task of creating the layoff list at some point in their career. They typically turn to the poor performers first when a reduction in force takes place. Below are 5 ways to avoid the layoff list.


  1. Don’t become complacent– So often, employees get too comfortable in their jobs and stop looking for ways to grow, develop, and challenge themselves. This may be tough at times, particularly when an organization experiences change. Employees must always look for ways to stay relevant and not allow the pace of change get in front of them.
  1. Don’t have a “That’s Not My Job” attitude – Management can quickly identify employees who are not willing to take on new work or projects outside of their typical job description. It’s easy to push back on additional work, but stretching yourself and taking on new projects brings job security. The bottom line here is no matter how politely an employee turns down work outside of their normal responsibilities, it puts a negative label on them. When layoffs are on the table, management will keep those employees who can diversify and pick up the slack.
  1. Don’t be a Wallflower – Many times employees are doing great work, but the results are too much behind the scenes. All of that hard work and proven results that employees produce don’t mean much if no-one ever sees or notices them. Once great way for recognition is leveraging LinkedIn for recommendations. This is a great way to socialize key accomplishments to coworkers and peers.
  1. Don’t underestimate a good performance review – When it comes time for management to sit down and evaluate who needs to go in a reduction in force, documented performance reviews are the first place many managers turn to. Turning to documented reviews and reprimands is how companies safeguard themselves against legal action during a reduction in force. Make sure you spend time with your manager reviewing your performance review on a regular basis. This will ensure you are up to speed with expectations and feedback. You also want to make sure you address any gaps in performance.
  1. Network, network, network– You always want to make sure you network internally and externally while employed. I see too many times employees get so busy with work that they forget to maintain a strong and healthy network.  In the event you can’t avoid a layoff, say because your department is being eliminated, you want to make sure you have a strong network of internal employees and managers who know your strengths and capabilities. Many times a job in the company is created for employees who are keepers. Also maintaining a strong external network will make the transition easier if you are impacted by a reduction in force.

Keep in mind, these 5 ways to avoid a layoff list may not guarantee you safety from a reduction in force, but they will definitely keep you safer and prepare you in the event you are let go.

Raymond Lee

Raymond Lee

Raymond Lee is the President of Careerminds, a global outplacement company based in Wilmington, Delaware. He has over 20 years of human resource, outplacement, and career consulting experience. He has his bachelor’s in psychology and holds a Master’s Degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Louisiana Tech University. He is active in SHRM and ATD. Raymond’s been featured on SiriusXM Business Radio, CareerTalk, and the Wall Street Journal and he’s published a book titled, Clocking Out: A Stress-Free Guide to Career Transitions.

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