Nothing is more frightening than the possibility of losing your job, regardless of whether the nation's economy is on an upswing or a downturn. Being unemployed not only affects your pocketbook, but it can zap your self-esteem and the confidence that you'll find another job. When you need to fight human resources to keep your job, don't just count on a sincere plea to reverse the company's decision to fire you. Come up with viable solutions to remain employed and present them to your HR representative.
Many employers accept responsibility for providing employees with the tools for successfully performing their job duties. Tools include accurate job descriptions, constructive feedback and regular performance appraisals. If your performance slips below your employer's expectations, your supervisor or manager might give you a performance improvement plan for specific guidance on areas where you need to improve. If your job is on the line for poor performance, talk to HR about additional training, guidance or more frequent evaluations to help you improve. In this scenario, you're not just asking for HR not to fire you, you're suggesting options to resolve your performance issues.
HR employee relations specialists often conduct workplace investigations concerning employee conflict or disputes between employees and their managers. If you're in the unfortunate position of being accused of misconduct or the subject of an employee's or manager's complaint against you, schedule an appointment with HR to talk about the complaint. Without drama, provide your version of the circumstances leading to the complaint. Refrain from deflecting responsibility for the issue if you know you were in any way at fault. Offer documentation or proof of your involvement or lack or involvement, and be amenable to mediating your differences with the accusing party.
When employers are facing business slowdown or an economic downturn that can only be resolved through cutting staff, you could be laid off or your job could be eliminated. Again, offer solutions instead of complaints when you talk to HR about keeping your job. List your minimum requirements for holding onto your job -- at least until you find other employment. For example, if you have a spouse or significant other who can pick up the slack temporarily, calculate whether you can live on part-time wages and suggest a reduced work schedule instead of permanent layoff. Alternatively, offer to take a cut in pay for continued employment, with the agreement that when the company digs itself out of financial strife, that you return to your original salary.
Talk to HR about your transferable skills if you're being cut from your department's staff. Ask for cross-training so you can continue to work for the company but in a different capacity or a different business unit. This increases your value to the organization. Describe your core competencies to HR and how the company could benefit from tapping that potential in another area if your talents are no longer necessary in your current role. For example, if you earned a dual bachelor's degree in finance and marketing and you're currently working on the company's marketing strategy, offer to transfer to another department where the company uses your finance expertise. Or, if your proficiency with software applications is on par with employees in the IT department, request a transfer.
Telling an employee that she's being fired is at the top of the "least-favorite things to do" for many human resources staffers, so you're not the only one experiencing the angst of termination. It doesn't matter whether the reason for terminating someone is because she isn't performing well or the company is losing money. Compassion underlies HR management decisions in many instances, especially termination. However, if you're invested in your career and aren't just asking for another chance without offering options that HR can work with, there's a chance your employer will keep you on staff.
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.