Layoffs and picking up the pieces in 2023

*Photo by Soulsana via Unsplash

In my previous job, I witnessed two rounds of layoffs. Additionally, I’ve seen friends and loved ones get asked to leave their companies. I learn vicariously through them and seeing these events unfold opened my eyes to the harsh realities of being an employee. At the same time, I can empathize with losing one’s bearings, losing a source of livelihood, and questioning one’s capabilities and sense of direction. On the other hand, I suppose there is a feeling of freedom felt from the impending doom that must have been swirling in their minds for weeks or months.

I believe we have to keep our work-life realities in check, even if we are gainfully employed. Here are four lessons I grasped indirectly from surviving layoffs indirectly:

No one is irreplaceable – I learned this much earlier in my career. No matter what happens, companies have to keep going and make money. As such, it cannot be beholden to one employee or the organization will collapse. So if one or many employees don’t work out, they will have to be replaced for the company to keep going. That scenario is applicable anywhere we go. The most we can do as employees, if we want or need to keep being one, is to make ourselves as valuable as possible so we may not be as easy to remove. 

Be loyal to ourselves as we are to our employers – Loyalty means taking care of ourselves, developing ourselves, and choosing the best decisions for us. This way, even if we end up in a dire circumstance at work, we don’t fall apart and instead be able to pick ourselves up and have options for what to do next.

Avoid referring to your colleagues and bosses as “family” – In families, more often than not, there are no boundaries. If such a lack of limits crosses over to work, our sense of work-life balance will disappear. After all, we’ll do everything for our families, right? Second, families do not score each other based on a set of KPIs or metrics. Don’t ever think that you aren’t being measured in your current company, because that will make you feel complacent. Complacency in the workplace is dangerous. 

Have something else to live for – Let’s think of ourselves as beings composed of many facets – family, friends, hobbies, charitable causes, work, etc. Putting a single aspect of our lives as front and center, or putting one facet of our lives as our only source of identity is a dangerous thing because when one disintegrates, we go down a huge spiral. In a similar vein as we don’t invest in a single stock, let’s not invest all of ourselves to our careers only, but also have other reasons to thrive and other purposes to live for. 

We are coming into 2023 with a lot of uncertainty, economy-wise. This may put many of us in a wearisome state. From here, let’s create steps to make our careers “retrenchment-proof”. More importantly, if we inevitably find ourselves in a job loss, I hope we all understand that when things fall apart in our careers (or in any other part of our life), they may just be falling into place. 

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