Don’t Fear The Pink Slip

Do you go into work every day wondering if there will be a ‘pink slip’ on your desk? We don’t call them pink slips anymore. Now we call them reduction in workforce; layoff; reorganizations; downsizing; and sometimes just simply ‘change’ in the organization. Over the past several years many organizations implement these ‘changes’ several times a year! What a horrible environment for the workers! If you face this environment in your organization – welcome to the existential concern of uncertainty!

As experienced adults we have learned to expect uncertainty to a degree. But recently there has been so much of it that rational, intelligent adults are left immobilized. It’s not just the loss of a job that can impact you, but also the threat of loss. For the past several years I have heard the fear in my clients’ voices – the fear of the pink slip. That fear can impact productivity, impede judgement, limit career advancement, cause health issues, and even become paralyzing. So what can you do? As my mom would say:  “Get your ducks in a row!”

The key to taking action in the face of uncertainty is to take responsibility for the actions you can control and let go of what you can not. To help myself and my clients do this I developed the exit check list (formerly the Pink Slip List) which follows. I hope you will find it useful as well. Special note: Do not wait until you are laid off to go through the checklist. It is designed as a preparation tool as many actions should be taken prior to your last day at the office.

1. Assess Your Financial Situation

  • How much money do you have in your emergency fund? Plan for 12 months of expenses.
  • Where are your health, life, disability benefits held? Will you loose them if you loose your job?
  • What are your monthly expenses? Can you eliminate any of these the moment you are laid off?
  • Are there expenses you could put on hold until you are re-employed?
  • Do you need to transfer your retirement funds? Do you know your options?

2. Assemble Your Support Group

  • Who is the first person you will call? Have the number ready!
  • Who will be with you in the first 24 hours? The first week?
  • Have you identified a coach to help guide you? Have the number ready!

3. Tap Into the Power of Your Community

  • Have you been networking consistently? Do you have a networking plan? If not, start NOW!
  • Do you have a list of 20 or 50 level 1 contacts outside of your current company?
  • Have you maintained a curent relationship with these contacts?
  • Do you have a call plan to mobilize these contacts on your behalf within the first week?

4. Update Your Career Plan

  • Is your LinkedIn profile up to date and are you actively using it to stay connected?
  • Is your resume up to date? Your introduction speech?
  • Have you identified your next career move? Do you know your requirements for your next role?
  • Do you have a 3, 5, 10 year career plan?
  • Do you have a coach you can engage to help you through the re-employment process?

5. Manage Your Key Information

  • Stop using company resources for personal business – NOW!
  • Keep personal and business information separate. Clear all personal files from your office. Clear all personal emails and files from your work computer.
  • Make sure you have copies of your personnel files and other information you own.
  • Make sure you have a list of all key phone numbers (HR, Benefits/COBRA, Financial Institutions, unemployment office, support group members, etc)
  • Identify any key items that will need to be replaced immediately (cell phone, car, etc). Identify replacement options now.
  • Make a list of questions to ask the HR department upon exiting.

This list is not inclusive and each client adds their own items to meet their specific needs. What would you do today if you were called into your boss’s office and handed the modern day version of a pink slip? Are you ready to handle the uncertainty? What would you do in the first 15 minutes? 2 hours? 24 hours? 3 days? first week? If you have a plan, you can work the plan even while experiencing the emotions that will certainly arise.