Staying employed is as much about attitude as talent.
Virtually all of us have been affected by the current unemployment situation. If we haven’t personally lost a job, taken a pay cut, or ended up on reduced hours, we have friends and family members who are dealing with any and all of that. Keeping a job has become a far more serious concern of late. Be sure you aren’t setting yourself up to loss yours with your attitude. Here are three things to think about:
Are you excusing yourself from doing the work? Yes, all this doom and gloom is demoralizing, but that doesn’t give you a free pass. The longer you are in a job, the easier it is to tell yourself “I’ve done this a long time, I deserve to throttle back a little.” You don’t have to go full bore all the time, but you do have to do the work.
One of the most frustrating comments I hear from employers about older workers is that “they don’t want to work.” We’re talking real estate professionals and scientists with graduate degrees here–at least in terms of where I’ve heard the comments lately. Deciding that you’ve earned the right to slow down is okay of you take less pay to slow down. But if you are still holding the same job and claiming the same salary, that “right” you think you deserve could land you in the unemployment line.
Are you part of the solution? It makes no difference if you are eighteen or eighty, you have things to offer that can help the company thrive. The probability that those talents have become highly polished skills increases with experience. Use yours with intelligence, grace, and collaboration.
This is not a case of insisting that the old ways are better. This is a commitment to dealing with the current challenges well by bringing everything you can to bear. In particular, learn to build alliances with those who understand what you don’t. The difference you can make working together will be huge.
Are you gobbling benefits? Just because the company offers health insurance doesn’t mean you need to head for the doctor’s office every time you get a cold. Many of us have gotten far too accustomed to solving our problems with pills. The resulting skyrocketing health insurance costs has become a horrendous burden to most employers. This is big piece of why “older workers are more expensive.” Keep yourself healthy instead of expecting doctors to do it for you. (They can’t anyway. They just figure out why you are sick–sometimes–and spend a lot of your employer’s cash in the process.)
The same is true for taking more than you really need as sick days. It’s wiser to stay home if you have something communicable, but taking a sick day to coach a baseball game? Really?
For those of you grumbling about how miserable your job is, here’s one last bit of advice. If you don’t want it, someone else would be ecstatic to have it. Suck it up, turn on your smile and give it your best.