The coronavirus pandemic has turned the world of work upside down — and with 26 million Americans filing unemployment claims in a matter of five weeks, job security is likely on your mind.
The good news is that you can take steps to prove your worth, help you keep the job you have and thrive even during difficult periods. Of course, there are no guarantees and you can’t control if your entire team gets laid off. But by taking these steps, you’d also be making yourself a more appealing candidate if you need to search for something new.
Here are three things you can do to help you increase your job security during uncertain times.
Be Resilient, Adaptable, Flexible and Thoughtful
These are the four skills companies value most, regardless of role, according to Wilkins, who has held human resources and talent management positions at GE Capital, Abbott Laboratories and AbbVie, and is currently an instructor at Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
“They actually spell RAFT, so that makes it easy to remember and visualize yourself always being equipped to sail in rough waters,” she says. To be able to handle the challenges of these current times, Wilkins says you should be able to demonstrate:
- Resilience: Bouncing back in tough times
- Adaptability: Adjusting to novel environments
- Flexibility: Being able and willing to wear different hats
- Thoughtfulness: Being respectful, intentional and communicative with colleagues
Of all of these, Wilkins says resilience is the most critical trait at this time. If RAFT is all about keeping the boat moving, resilience is the force that will motivate you to pull on the oars. That means doing whatever it takes to stay afloat and handle the unknown, she says.
Beyond maintaining that momentum, you’ll also need to evolve. Specifically, you should be paying attention to what’s happening at your company and looking at industry trends more broadly. Make it your job to meet the needs of the shifting circumstances. Take on the tasks and projects that need to be tackled in this new reality to help your employer succeed right now — whether that’s running virtual meetings or taking on a different role or additional responsibilities within a smaller company.
And if you can do all that while also being kind and thoughtful to your manager, teammates and coworkers across the company, you’ll become known as someone who can take on anything as well as an excellent colleague no one would want to part with.
Demonstrate Inventive Thinking
It’s not just about being flexible and adaptable for your own role; you also want to use your creativity to benefit the entire organization. Bring new ideas to the table to help your company make it through the unforeseen obstacles of the present moment and those still ahead. When entire industries see their way of doing business goes out the window, it’s time to rewrite all the playbooks of how things should be done. The only bad idea is not having any at all.
It’s excellent if your suggestions can help your company bring in more business or cut expenses — something that can translate to jobs saved, yours included — but even if your ideas don’t directly help increase revenue or bring savings, your creative and resourceful ideas can still make you a valuable employee your company will want to hang on to.
Bring Empathy to Everything You Do
Soft skills such as empathy are in great demand among employers. Not only will the people you work with feel good being around you but you’re also more likely to keep your job. Those candidates who bring empathy to their people and clients are the ones who consistently see rising to the top and who are, in general, just an absolute joy to work with.
People often avoid practicing empathy because of the mental effort involved, suggests research from the American Psychological Association — but when they believe they are good at being empathetic, they are more likely to do it. A great place to start to boost your confidence in your empathy skills — especially at this moment when many within your company are likely struggling — is simply by reaching out to your colleagues and asking how they’re doing. Then actively listen as they share, offer to help in whatever small way you can, and open up in return.
Let us know in the comments below how you increase your jobs security during COVID-19.