by Meridith Levinson

Layoffs: Calculating the Odds You’ll Lose Your Job

Feb 11, 20094 mins

“Will I still have a job tomorrow?”

With the U.S. economy in a far-reaching recession and companies announcing layoffs seemingly every day, that question looms large in every working person’s mind.

Obviously, some employees are at greater risk of losing their jobs than others. What’s not so clear is how to calculate that risk. So for the past several months, I’ve wanted to come up with some kind of risk assessment that would help IT professionals (really, any professional) get an objective handle on their odds of getting laid off.

You may be wondering why anyone would want to determine their likelihood of losing their job. I think a ‘layoff risk assessment calculator’ could be helpful. A lot of people worry unnecessarily about getting laid off. And a lot of people who do get laid off are completely blindsided by it.

A risk assessment for layoffs could help IT professionals determine whether they’re at high- or low risk of losing their jobs, so that low-risk professionals can rest easy and carry on with their work, and so that high-risk employees can be proactive and prepare themselves emotionally, professionally and financially for when and if their jobs get cut.

My problem: I have no idea how to create such a risk assessment. I developed a list of variables that I think could indicate someone is likely to get laid off. I made another list of variables that could indicate someone is unlikely to get laid off. These lists are based on my own knowledge and experience, and on conversations I had with two CIOs who shared with me their approaches to deciding which jobs will be eliminated during layoffs.

My goal is to develop an accurate and plausible assessment—one that will really help people get a grip on their futures. But coming up with an assessment like this is difficult for a variety of reasons. So I need your help.

Take a look at my lists below and let me know which variables you would add to or subtract from either list. Also let me know if you think certain variables should be weighed more heavily than others, and how you think the assessment should be structured. I’m thinking of structuring it like a quiz, where people give themselves points for each negative variable (e.g. each strike against them) and subtract points for each positive variable; people with high scores are then highly likely to be laid off and people will lower scores are less likely to be laid off. Let me know what you think.

And again, keep in mind that the goal of this assessment is to help people, not to scare people.

Variables that Could Indicate Someone Is Likely to Get Laid Off

1. Your employer is not meeting its financial plan.

2. Your salary is at the high-end of the pay scale for your profession or function.

3. A position or function you help support has been eliminated or restructured.

4. You work on a project that has been cut or that you sense is going to be cut.

5. You gossip or complain a lot.

6. The work you do is mundane or repetitive in nature (e.g. re-setting passwords or setting

up routers) and could be outsourced to a third party.

7. Your work is not customer-focused.

8. The function you work in is well-staffed (or has “fat” that could be trimmed).

9. You don’t “fit in” with the rest of your department.

10. Your company could find someone to replace you at a lower cost with relative ease (e.g. without having to hire a head hunter.)

Variables That Could Indicate Someone Is Unlikely to Get Laid Off

1. You’ve demonstrated your ability to adapt to new strategies.

2. You have good relationships with different people throughout your company.

3. Your position is cross-matrixed to different leaders.

4. You have a good rapport with your boss, and your boss is regarded highly by senior management.

5. You work on multiple projects that are critical to dealing with existing business conditions.

6. Your skills are up to date, in demand and align with the IT organization’s current and future needs.

7. Your company would have difficulty finding someone to fill your position.