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December 11, 2017

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Out of a Job

Understanding, Coping, Surviving

Part 1 of 4

This is the first of a 4-part series. This installment is for everyone, regardless of whether you are currently employed, are at imminent risk of being discharged or have just been laid off, or have been laid off for a while and are back on the job market. Information for individuals in particular situations facing certain challenges will appear in the next three installments.

Times Have Changed

We were raised to adhere to fundamental principles such as trust, diligence, and loyalty. We were raised to be "as good as our word." As we entered the workforce, we felt being diligent and loyal would allow us to prosper hand-in-hand with our employer, while giving us a leg up the corporate ladder. In short, we graduated from school, went to work for a company, and expected to remain there until retirement.

In today’s turbulent business environment, this paradigm has changed. Seldom can we expect (and seldom are we expected) to work continuously for the same employer until retirement. Countless lay offs and downsizings demonstrate a stark reality: even if we do a good job and are loyal to our employer, we cannot rely on our employer to return that loyalty. Today’s business environment differs for employers as well: employees willingly contribute to their employer’s financial success only as long as they "share in the wealth," while openly seeking out job opportunities elsewhere.

No Job Is Secure

Feel as if job security no longer exists? In reality, it never really existed. The robber barons of long ago did not have their employees’ best interests in mind when making business decisions. More recently, industrialists veiled the same mindset by offering annual leave and sick pay. Nevertheless, they willingly focused on maximizing corporate profit rather than enhancing the employee’ quality of work life. Today, any semblance of job security has been lost. In this volatile economic climate, employers quickly and frequently layoff and downsize when previously such actions would not have been taken.

It Happens To People Like Us

On any given week, lay offs are announced throughout the United States. No industry is immune. For example, within the past year:

The nation’s unemployment rate is now at or near its highest level since the early 1990s. Unemployment claims, unemployment benefit payouts, and the number of layoffs announced in a single month are also at or near their highest levels. Such statistics, while interesting, are “background noise” to those of us currently employed. Unfortunately, everyone—by virtue of working in today’s business environment—is at risk of being subject to a job cut (layoff or discharge).

Turbulent times, marked by uncertainty and ambiguity, are here to stay. On-going business decisions contribute to such an environment: for example, large corporations constantly eliminate higher paying jobs while smaller organizations continue to create those same kinds of positions. The constantly changing "landscape" of the business world also contributes to this tumultuous environment: for example, part time employees now make up a significant (rather than a marginal) portion of the workforce.

Mitigating Risks In Today’s Work World

It is important that we keep certain key factors "at the forefront" of our mind as we function in today’s turbulent work world. By doing so, our decisions and actions are more likely to:

We will explore these factors throughout the remaining installments of this 4-part series.

-B. Keith Simerson & Michael D. McCormick

For more information on this topic:
Refer to Fired, Laid Off, Out of a Job: A Manual for Understanding, Coping and Surviving (ISBN 1-56720-634-4, the Greenwood Publishing Group, base price $49.95, available at your local bookstore or through www.greenwood.com or at 800.225.5800).

To contact the authors:
B. Keith Simerson, Ed.D. is a Partner with Tradewinds Consulting: BKSimerson@TradewindsConsulting.com. Michael D. McCormick, JD is an attorney in private practice in Illinois: michaeldmccormick@hotmail.com.

© 2003 B. Keith Simerson and Michael D. McCormick. All rights reserved.

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