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How to Avoid Layoffs and Make Yourself Indispensable at Work

What does a looming recession and cutbacks mean to you? Mergers, acquisitions, outsourcing, restructuring, and downsizing of companies in all industries mean eliminating redundant and low-performing positions.

But you can help safeguard your position should layoffs occur by making yourself indispensable to your employer. How? There are several ways.


At work, being indispensable means your department can’t do without you. Your boss relies on you and what you bring to the job. So much so that the belief is that the organization may suffer if you aren’t there.

It’s not just executives and high-level employees that can be seen as valuable. You can be beneficial at any level of the company and in any department. You want your contribution to be considered necessary to the organization’s productivity.

Even good employees can get the ax, and no one’s job is completely safe. However, being a valuable employee to your boss and management team will likely protect you and your position from exclusion.

Let’s take a closer look at how this can be achieved, both at your job and outside of it.

Valued at Work

A few things should be foundational when you are at your job. You should be dependable, have a good attitude, and be a team player. Those three things alone may put you ahead of others because so many people lack these essential qualities.

How does this look in the workplace?

Dependable. Be on time, finish assignments to completion, remain trustworthy, and assume responsibility.

Good Attitude. Look to the positive, don’t finger point or blame others, don’t speak ill of others, and don’t be a whiner.

Team Player. Make your boss’s job easier, anticipate needs, offer assistance to co-workers, and be encouraging.

Besides these basic components, there are several steps to continue to up your value at work:

  1. Make Yourself a Valued Resource. You may be one of many salespersons, account executives, or IT people. To become a valued resource, you need to stand out from the others in your field. This might be a certain skill you already have or are learning, your expertise in a crucial area, or an invested relationship with an important client.

  2. Do the Extra Things. Set yourself apart from being another cog in the wheel by giving a little more than what is expected of you. This could be by introducing new well-thought-out ideas, volunteering for projects that others don’t want to do, offering solutions to problems and being willing to execute them, or agreeing to learn new skills.

  3. Network Within Your Company. Get to know people in key positions, heads of departments, and your boss’s boss. This gives you a bigger picture of the organization and allows others to become familiar with you and your capabilities. This may provide opportunities to make lateral moves or transfers within the company should your department get restructured or phased out.

These are all observable traits that your supervisors and company can recognize and assess as useful to the organization. However, there are other things you can do outside your time at work to make yourself indispensable.

Build Value Outside Your Job

Have you heard the saying that from 9 to 5 you earn a living, but from 5 to 9 you build a life? It’s what you do outside of work that can make a difference to your current and future employability and success. It is time well spent, regardless of whether you continue at your current job. Some ways to build your value outside your job include:

  1. Learn a New Skill. Choose something that would be valuable anywhere, whether it is a hard or soft skill. Hard skills are things related to your job or industry, while soft skills are personal qualities.

    1. Hard Skills. These are measurable and easily defined. Examples include learning a second language, studying website design, training in SEO practices, and getting certificates, licenses, or advanced degrees.

    2. Soft Skills. These are harder to measure but universal in application. Examples include overcoming the fear of public speaking, learning to communicate effectively, and gaining negotiation or conflict resolution expertise.

  2. Stay Up-to-Date. There are many changes in technology and emerging trends in your industry. Stay ahead of the curve. True story: a friend spent a few months discovering how to use Tableau, a data analytics platform, using the free trial. She mentioned what she was learning to her boss, and he then accrued company funding so she could learn about Tableau and get certification in it. She made herself more valuable to her employer while adding to her abilities by staying up to date.

  3. Keep Your Resume Current. Update it every four to six months to include any new skills, responsibilities, and changes that have occurred.

  4. Join Professional Associations. Look for ones in your field or industry for education, networking, and volunteer opportunities that could lead to connections for current and future employment

You are investing in yourself by taking a few hours each week to learn a new skill, stay up to date on trends, update your resume, and take part in professional groups.

Final Thoughts

Let’s be real: no one is completely indispensable. But tipping the odds in your favor of keeping your job can be done by taking a few steps, both at the workplace and outside of it. When you make yourself a valuable employee by not only being dependable while at work, but also by adding to the skills you bring to the table, your employer may find that they cannot do without you.


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