Help employees find work in times of downsizing

Follow these tips to help ease stress

Let’s face it: You can’t protect your employees from the harsh reality of downsizing. But you can provide them with some words of wisdom that will help them function more effectively in these uncertain times and deal more proactively with a job change if it comes. These 10 tips may prove useful in helping your employees maintain a positive attitude and feel that they are in charge of their lives — rather than at the mercy of outside forces:

1. Realize job security is dead. Don’t continue to believe in job security. This misguided belief will keep you from taking charge of your own career. Assume that you are self-employed, whether you are currently employed by an organization.

2. Develop a "personal why" that gives your work meaning. A personal why comes from you innermost intuition, and serves as a guiding light or compass that helps you to make choices that are aligned with your values. This also helps you to stay on course during turbulent change.

3. Cultivate your intention and attention. When we do not get meaning or satisfaction out of our work, we feel empty and depleted. First, we have to decide that it is important to use our talents and gifts and intentionally seek meaningful work. Second, we must recognize and pay attention to activities that bring us satisfaction, where we become absorbed in what we are doing and feel energized, rather than depleted.

4. Maintain a forward momentum. Do not get stuck by setbacks, uncertainty, or complacency. Make decisions and take action despite ambiguity.

5. Make a point of learning throughout your lifetime. Technology is changing the workplace so fast that many careers for the next generation do not even exist yet. Keeping pace requires continuous learning. Just as important is learning from your experiences, which combines action with reflection.

6. Create a broad network of relationships, both personal and professional. Job security is being replaced by networking security. People who have a strong professional network are less reliant on a single organization because they have more work opportunities.

7. Be a shapeshifter. Don’t be afraid to question and then change your definition of yourself or your career. Model yourself after Proteus, the sea god in the Odyssey who could take on a variety of shapes as the situation required.

8. Nourish creativity by taking a break from utilitarian tasks. We get stuck in habitual patterns because we don’t let ourselves take a break. Find ways to get away and clear your mind. Go for a walk, notice dreams, play, rest, daydream, be alone, give away time, do something you’ve never done before.

9. Recognize your power of choice. Research shows that there is typically a five-year period of time between realizing the need to leave a job and actually doing so. Being aware of the choices you are making and that having the courage to act on these choices is a source of freedom.

10. Examine your relationship to money. People who have a more relaxed attachment to money and to concrete status symbols have more freedom to consider a variety of career options. Budget your money, and figure out how much you must have each month. Then, generate alternative ways to get that amount. Living beyond your means or even to the very limit greatly limits your career flexibility.

Source: Reprinted with permission from Losing Your Job — Reclaiming Your Soul, by Mary Lynn Pulley. Jossey-Bass Inc. (Simon & Schuster), San Francisco, 1997.