The fear of losing your job can affect your work life, job performance and your home life, because being deprived of your livelihood can wreak havoc on every aspect of your existence. Focusing on your performance instead of job security can relieve some of the angst -- but not all -- of what you will do if you are in danger of losing your job. Consider several angles to demonstrate your commitment to being a high performer, and thus, a long-term employee.
When the economy is turned on its end, it's not uncommon for workers at every level, from front-line staff to executive-level employees, to be concerned that they may be out of a job next month or even next week. Concerns about job security can take your attention away from the reason why you were hired in the first place and cause you to worry more about your financial obligations than your employer's performance expectations. Make your job performance a priority to reduce your chances of being fired for poor performance.
If your employer has a strict policy for terminating workers whose performance falls below expectations, you may see your co-workers packing up their belongings because they receive a poor appraisal rating. Aside from their own humiliation, you may see your co-workers' terminations as writing on the wall that your employer takes performance expectations very seriously and will not tolerate slippage of any kind. Rather than wonder what happened to cause a co-worker to lose her job, turn your attention to what you can do to improve your own performance.
Communicating with your supervisor can allay the fear of losing your job, particularly if you trust your supervisor or manager to be straightforward and candid with you. Ask for a private meeting to discuss your performance and inquire how your performance affects your employment status. This is especially wise if your company doesn't have a formal performance appraisal system for evaluating your work, or if your work arrangement doesn't permit your supervisor to regularly review your performance, such as is the case in many remote-reporting relationships.
Improving your skill set can have a positive affect on your performance. Therefore, if you feel that your skills are below par, or if you could step up your proficiency in some areas, ask your supervisor for training and explain why. Express an interest in improving your skills and, thus, your performance. Supervisors are far more understanding when employees take the initiative to do better work. You needn't say that you want to improve your skills to improve your performance so you won't lose your job. Simply say that you are interested in improving the quality of your contributions to the organization.
If your employer is committed to exercising its rights under the employment-at-will doctrine, whether you're a star employee or average performer, you can be terminated at any time for any reason. It doesn't have to be performance-related. But if you know that your employer values strong performance as a predictor of long-term employment, do what you can to maintain high performance ratings. When you receive an appraisal, solicit feedback on how to raise your appraisal measurement and show that you are self-motivated to maintain your status as a conscientious employee.
Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.