The Two-Way Street

The Two-Way Street

Although it’s happened in other recessions, this time, it’s far more pronounced. The companies that are laying people off are also hiring. Slowly to be sure, but they are hiring.

And that creates a dilemma. As I describe in my book, Work Strong: Your Personal Career Fitness System, one of the key strategies for building a healthy career is to work with winners, both individuals and organizations. Which begs the question, is an employer that is laying people off a loser? Would you be hurting your career to take a job there?

In my opinion, absolutely not … with one caveat.

Why absolutely not? Why wouldn’t it be a risky to join a company that is laying people off even as it hires? Isn’t there the real chance that you might get the axe yourself at some point in the future? Yes, of course that risk exists, but that’s now true in every company. In fact, this so-called Great Recession is changing the way employers employ today and in the future.

Before December, 2007—the official start date for the Great Recession—companies hired carefully and then hung on. Once they took someone in, they were reluctant to take the PR hit and let them go, even if they were substandard performers. Today, that laissez faire approach to workforce management is over. And it will stay over for the rest of your career. It’s joined buggy whips and carbon paper. If you’re not at the top of your game and your game isn’t near the top of the scale, you’re fair game for a career cardiac event or what most of us call unemployment.

What’s the one caveat? Look at the way employers execute this new approach. If they treat employees as used up widgets during their staff reductions, if they throw them out the door in a way that injures their ability to recover, then they’re an organizational delinquent. They should be avoided at all costs. They aren’t winners, they’re losers.

If on the other hand, they are respectful of those employees they let go, if they try to help them land on their feet rather than on some other part of their anatomy, then they’re an organizational winner. They walk the talk when it comes to treating workers as assets. Investing your talent in that kind of employer aids and abets your own success.

No less important, doing so—working for that kind of organization—reinforces your career security even when times are turbulent. Why? Because it’s a two-way street. The organization gives you (and other employees) the support you deserve and you give it the contribution it needs. And that makes you both winners.

Thanks for reading,
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