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What to do if you're facing layoffs at work: 3 questions, answered by an expert

A programmer programmer writes code and works on a computer. (Matic Zorman/Getty Images)
A programmer programmer writes code and works on a computer. (Matic Zorman/Getty Images)

In January, the U.S. economy added 517,000 jobs. While that may seem like good news, the once-invincible tech sector is trending in the opposite direction. Last month alone, companies cut nearly 85,000 tech jobs.

“Certain industries are consolidating. They’re getting smaller,” says CBS News business analystJill Schlesinger. “They may have hired too much during the pandemic, and they’re unwinding that in a big way right now. Not everyone, but some.”

3 questions with Jill Schlesinger about employees facing layoffs

How should you think about your role in your workplace?

“I think that the most important thing that we can do as employees is to really figure out, like, what am I? What is my value to this organization?

“When you’re going in for a negotiation, for a raise, for example, if you don’t know the value you’re bringing to an organization, then you’re probably not doing a great job of actually bringing your skill set to your boss’s attention. So you [have] got to know that. You’ve got to do your research.”

What should you do if you think layoffs may be coming to your workplace?

“You should kiss your boss’s tush a little bit. But this is not a time to be like, ‘I’m going to be doing this quiet quitting or I’m just going to put in a certain amount of hours a week.’ I would say, if you feel like you’re in a risky sector, if you feel like your company is at risk, then you should be raising your hand and saying ‘yes’ a lot to opportunities. And if there’s extra work, try to do it.

“I’ve been a boss before. And when you’re confronted with who to lay off, the person who says I’ll help out is not the first one on my list.”

If you do lose your job, what should your priority be?

“I would be looking at what would happen if I lost my job right now. What would happen with my health insurance? If you are married or partnered and you can get insurance through your partner, awesome. But if not, you may want to go poke around at healthcare.gov and see what’s available.

“I would also check out what is the severance policy of your company in terms of other insurance. For example, if you have life insurance through your organization, find out if that is what’s called portable — if you can take that with you when you leave. These are the kinds of things that people are better capable of talking about before the bad news hits rather than when the bad news hits.”


Thomas Danielian produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Catherine Welch. Grace Griffin adapted it for the web.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.