We are now standing at the crossroads of economy, where the Great Resignation has gone underground and The Great Layoff is taking concrete form, one termination letter after another. Like a colossal, under-construction flyover, dwarfing the hopes and aspirations of a confused workforce. Running on a parallel highway is the looming fear of a Recession. Inflation, appearing like periodic speed-breaks, is further hindering people as they go about grappling with increasing living costs. Running around frantically for employment, are US work visa holders, less they are deported within two months of their being unemployed.

If the Great Resignation symbolised power to the workforce, The Great Layoff has sent the workforce into a tailspin with more tech companies announcing layoffs. Within the tech sector alone, 39,000+ employees had been laid off by August 2022 at big companies like Peloton, Shopify, and Netflix. Amazon plans to lay off as many as 20,000 employees across the company in the coming months, including distribution-centre workers, technology staff and corporate executives, about twice as many as previously reported.

By some estimates, nearly 16,000 Indians lost their jobs at Indian startups in 2022. Hiring in the Indian tech industry was 18% lower in October compared to a year ago, according to Naukri JobSpeak, an index that measures month-on-month hiring trends.

Layoffs. They are everywhere. At this point in time, it might be too much to ask of someone to not imagine the worst. It’s in the news. Your peers’ mailboxes. Subway conversations. Dinner table interruptions. The layoff anxiety is for real. Though a layoff may or may not be. Constant worry about losing your employment, is not only detrimental to your mental and physical well-being, but also your relationships and equations with people who matter to you.

That is precisely why, it would help to keep your anxiety regarding job insecurity, in check.

5 ways to effectively address your fear of being laid off

1. Keep imagination and reality apart

We all have a tendency to imagine the worst. Somehow it’s easier thinking about a negative situation than a positive one. Right? Hard as it might be, stop overthinking. Look around for some signs at your office. Are there talks of a re-structuring in your dept? Have you been assigned to certain project, wherein your involvement is decreasing gradually? Does a certain client seem inactive recently? People might be laid off. That doesn’t always mean, you might be too. Don’t give in to assumptions. Test your instinct.

2. Focus on what you can control

You cannot control the reasons for your company to consider job cuts, can you? However, you can continue focussing on your current work, meeting or deadlines with the same efficiency as before. That doesn’t mean you triple your workload and buckle under pressure. For you’re constantly living under the fear of logging in to your system one fine day and receiving the dreaded mail from HR. Layoff anxiety, will distract you from your current deliverables, affecting your productivity. Non-performance, will in any case make the company reconsider you.

3. Talk about your anxiety

Be kind to yourself. Don’t bottle up the keep the anxiety. Open up about your fears of being laid off, with a trusted family member, friend or even a professional. They will not judge you, when you take them into confidence and talk frankly about what’s troubling you, what’s consuming your sanity or what’s not letting you sleep at all. Just having an honest heart to heart, will help you breathe easy. For all you know, they might be able to offer you a suggestion, you hadn’t thought about! That’s why, sometimes, an ‘outside’ perspective can be of huge help. Feeling lighter with each conversation, will help you see the situation more objectively and focussing on the way forward.

4. Take out time to pursue your interests

Your hobbies are more powerful than you know. Devoting time to what gives you true happiness, even if momentary, will help create positive distraction. That will in turn, enable you to stop playing that layoff tape in your head. If you like reading, subscribe to a reading club, where you connect with like-minded people. Similarly, connect with communities with interests similar to yours. Pursuing your interests, will gradually help you realise you’re so much more than your job. A study published in the journal, Frontiers of Psychology, showed that people who reduce themselves down to one attribute, their job for instance, are more likely to feel dehumanised (like nothing more than a machine or tool) and have higher levels of disengagement, depression and burnout.

5. Work towards an alternate plan

Should your fears about job insecurity get the better of you, do the next best thing you can. Plan ahead. No need to drop everything else for this. Take out time from your routine to network, strengthen your resume, connect with recruiters. If you’re already exhausted with your current job, figure out the possibilities of freelance or taking a sabbatical till such time you decide what to do next. So if it comes to a layoff, it wouldn’t be a shock to you, you would be mentally prepared. That in itself, is a big relief.

Motivation is hard to come by when there’s job insecurity. So take action in small steps. For instance, you may not have time to change your CV all at once, along with your deadlines. So stretch out the required action over a few days. Just as you break a work goal into smaller goals. One day you might just want to eyeball your CV. Second day, you update your ‘current employer’ section. Third day, you might want to add something extra to your skill set. So on and so forth, every time you carry out a ‘positive action’ you subconsciously replace a negative thought. That will in turn, drive you to take the next positive action.
Similar action can be taken when making a list of recruiters or job platform to connect with. You can look up immediate openings in Finance and Tech here and move closer to work you would love to do.