San Diego Union Tribune

‘You’re Fired, but I Need You to Stay’

“You’re fired, but please stay” may be words you never thought you’d hear from your employer until now.

Americans are less likely to be laid off now than at any point in at least 50 years according to the Labor Department and reported in the Wall Street Journal. Why is that you ask? No surprise. It is mainly due to the greatly improved labor market. It is now an employee’s market, even if you have only minimal skills.

For every 10,000 people in the workforce, 66 claimed new unemployment benefits in July as a result of being laid off. This is trending at the lowest point since 1967 according to Labor Department statistics.

For sure, employees are still being fired for stealing, lying, confrontations and plenty of other reasons, as they should be. But marginal employees are being tolerated because firms can’t find anyone better to replace them.

After the disastrous Recession of 2007-2009, we are now in a period of high job security. Great news for employees, not so great for employers. But why are we in this situation? Unemployment rates are historically low.

The definition of “full employment ” is changing as baby boomers retire, manufacturing (which historically has seen seasonal cycles of layoffs) is a smaller percent of industry, and companies are more risk-adverse to starting up new entities that might fall and therefore have layoffs.

Today, we certainly have more bodies coming off of the couch to seek out employment, and this is a good thing. Or is it?

These new job market entrants seem less motivated, less skilled and certainly have shown to be less dependable than many current employees. Negativity often is written all over their faces. So as a business manager, if my pool of potential job applicants is less than mediocre, shouldn’t I keep the current employees? After all, I know them and how they perform. Rather than firing current employees in order to hire an unknown employee that I am not comfortable with, I feel it may be better for my company to put the brakes on firing someone while I continue to look.

So how do you use this to your advantage?

If you are happy in your job, like your boss, like the company you work for and the industry you work in, you have the opportunity to be a star. Talk to your supervisor about how you can take on more responsibility in the department, or your company and ask how you can move up the management chain.

What is it you can do to make that forward move happen? Your competition may just be coasting and doing the minimum necessary to keep their job. After all, they don’t see anyone getting fired. No one is breathing down their necks, which can actually be very motivational. So, if you become the enthusiastic, energetic sponge for new ideas and challenges, this can become your time to shine.