Unemployment is slowing improving, but that doesn’t mean that workers’ fear of getting laid off is also on the decline. The best way to achieve job security these days is to make yourself essential personnel in the eyes of your boss.
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“Being indispensable at work means that your supervisors count on you so much that without you, the productivity of your department might suffer, or at least that’s the perception,” says Andy Teach, author of From Graduation to Corporation, in an interview with Jacquelyn Smith at Forbes. “In the minds of your supervisors and perhaps your co-workers, you are essential to the overall success of the department or even the company. Their feeling is that you are a necessary and valued part of the machine. They depend on you.”
So how do you encourage this perception? By doing the following:
1. Be the only person who does X.
Every company has its own systems and procedures, some of which don’t exist outside the corporation. If you can become the owner of a project or process, and learn it better than anyone else, you’ll make it easier to keep you than to put you on the layoff list.
2. Stay up to date.
Most of us have areas of our skill set that are, shall we say, soft. Instead of expending your energy trying to hide the fact that you don’t understand a software package or programming language, set aside time to learn it.
3. Be easy to get along with.
Every team has that one member who is the calm center of the storm — and if they don’t, they should. Be the person who can be counted on to keep his or her cool when everyone else is freaking out.
4. Be social.
“The idea that you can be an individual contributor and be successful is an idea of the past,” says Brian Kropp, a managing director at executive advisory firm CEB, in an interview with Forbes. “Fitting within the network of the workplace is a part of the new definition of a great employee.”
5. Get along with other generations.
Everyone has a unique perspective to bring to the table, and part of that perspective is generational. Don’t roll your eyes when older or younger coworkers do things differently than you would. Listen to their point of view, and remember that most of us work for businesses that have clients of one sort or another: odds are, your coworker has insight into a segment of your customer base that you lack.
In any case, being able to get along with everyone will put you in a good spot, should the company start issuing pink slips.
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