By Arthi Swaminathan
One expert says workers should change the way they think, and prepare to stand up for themselves, as the recession storm approaches.
Bad sentiment is spreading with fears of a recession and growing waves of layoffs.
Two years into the pandemic, the economy is starting to turn around, with inflation still at its highest levels in several decades, and with the Federal Reserve raising interest rates to tackle it.
Workplace experts say workers must change their mindset and prepare to stand up for themselves as the storm approaches. One report from KPMG stated that 91% of US CEOs surveyed are “convinced” that the economy is headed into a recession in the next 12 months.
Steve Koepp, the entrepreneur who co-founded From Day One, a conference chain and employee-focused media outlet, told MarketWatch that there has been a “real change of tone.” “Companies aren’t desperate anymore, and they’re also seeing a recession coming. Employees were in the driving seat. Now, they’re not quite as much.”
To be clear, companies don’t seem to be abandoning their employees. In fact, they are trying very hard to keep their workers, as the New York Times recently reported
But that also doesn’t mean layoffs won’t happen, Daniel Gao, chief economist at Glassdoor, told MarketWatch. “Demand for workers is still very high and on optimism, it could mean fewer layoffs if the economy slows,” Zhao said.
“If there is a recession, employers may have to lay off workers as soon as the rubber hits the road,” he stressed.
If you’re worried about an economic recession and what that means for your business, Koepp has five tips:
1. Pay to get benefits
Koepp said that while there has been a shift from employers desperate to hire to less so, there is also an acknowledgment that they need to keep employees happy.
So for workers, this is a potential guide to standing up and claiming the things that matter to you. Experts say that while employers have been very innovative about benefits, compensation, and flexibility, in terms of the pandemic, that has changed.
But things like wellness, mental health, preventing burnout, providing benefits to women’s health, and providing care are all issues that some companies prioritize.
“Companies want to be transparent about the things they want to promote, but they are also more vulnerable to external scrutiny about how good the employer is?” Quip said.
For example, retail giant Walmart (WMT) recently announced that it has partnered with Kindbody to provide its partners with fertility benefits. This includes access to IVF facilities, fertility preservation, genetic testing, and more.
2. Stand up for yourself
Koepp also suggested that employees find ways to make their current job more rewarding.
“They need to do things like find a best friend to work with, make friends at work, and advocate for new programs and initiatives,” he said.
And raising your hand to talk about issues that are weaknesses, or issues that are still under the radar, are all very important.
Koepp said employers “listen more carefully to what people want.” There is a benefit that people really need, he added, and “workers need to speak up.”
While we are past the stage of the Great Resignation, and are now past the stages of Great Resistance and Quiet Tranquility, “we are in a period where we are kind of negotiating about what comes next—and people need to hold on to themselves,” Koepp advised.
3. Change begins at home
If you’re frustrated about your job, Koepp said, instead of looking externally, look for internal publications that allow you to move sideways, something that is easier for companies to manage.
“It’s kind of a win-win for workers and companies. What else is going on in your company that you like to do? It’s a lot cheaper for companies to take someone into something they are passionate about than to go out and hire someone and train them.”
He added that moving people rather than laying them off is something companies will try to do.
There are some policies that involve lateral movement – if your boss finds out and doesn’t like it, it could hurt your current business. And especially if you don’t get that other job, you’re stuck in a strange situation.
4. Get to know the boss
A controversial topic, but becoming more relevant, is the motivation to get back to work. It’s frustrating to hear some employees love the comforts of home, but showing up at the office one or two days a week can probably help keep your job.
Koepp said companies wouldn’t say they would find it easier to let go of people who refuse to go back to the office.
But, he added, there is such a thing as convergence bias. “Managers like to see the people they work with and they work with. They feel they have more control or at least more knowledge of what the person is doing,” Koepp explained.
But at the same time, flexibility is not disappearing – remote work is becoming more and more normalized as the pandemic forces everyone to work from home five days a week.
5. Zoom in with your manager
Quip said it still makes sense to ask to work from home. But that narrows, as the world reopens. But just to be clear, if working from home is really important to you, speak up and ask for it, Quip said.
For many caregivers especially, such as working parents, or those looking after elderly relatives, working from home has become a genie out of the bottle and no return.
In such cases, set up a regular video chat (ZM) or Google Meets (GOOGL) with your manager. It’s good for them to see you in your home office, and you look professional, busy, and busy. This way, the year-end review will have no surprises.
Remote working allows parents to be more flexible and more involved in their children’s lives. For example, a family can avoid paying exorbitant daycare costs for their infants and young children, as one or both parents can work from home.
“Being able to have that has been just a great blessing for women who are disproportionately caring, whether it’s their children or you know them, seniors or siblings who have issues you name it,” Koepp said.
“And I think employees need to try to find it, negotiate it, where they are,” he added. “It would be very nice and annoying to go back to the way things were, unless they can.”
So when you’re worrying about layoffs and a recession, take a deep breath, take a step back and take stock of what’s important to you.
Write to MarketWatch reporter Aarthi Swaminathan at email@example.com
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