Hays’ group head of change, Alex Fraser, shares some steps you can follow if you’re anxious about job security right now.
Feeling anxious about job security at this time is completely natural. But it’s important to learn that the best way to deal with anxiety isn’t to simply ignore it or allow it to overwhelm your mind and thoughts. Instead, you need to take control. Doing so will help you feel empowered and less anxious.
Even in stable times, it’s wise to take a proactive approach to your career. And the change that Covid-19 has brought could actually provide you with an invaluable opportunity to review your career and ensure you’re making the right decisions for your future.
1. Remember that you’re in the driving seat
The first step in dealing with anxiety and negativity about your role is acknowledging the feelings for what they are. By that, I mean acknowledging that your anxiety exists and thinking about the aspects you can control. This self-awareness will enable you to begin dissolving your fears. So, try not to be afraid to face your anxieties head-on. Stop playing out the ‘what ifs?’ in your mind and instead accept ‘what is’ and ask yourself what you can do about it.
At times of anxiety, people often lose perspective and feel that they can’t control anything – that someone else is dictating their path without them having a say on the matter. The truth is that you can always control how you perform, how you act and how you come across. So, do what you can to confirm the value you bring to your business. Trust in your abilities and, at the same time, get prepared for change. When you let go of self-doubt, your work anxiety will reduce and your productivity levels will increase.
2. Try to keep an open mind
If you’re feeling anxious about the possibility of significant change in your professional situation, a key step in addressing the challenge is to reframe it as an opportunity. Try to approach the situation with a growth mindset. Even if your present circumstance isn’t what you had planned for, you can still learn a lot from it.
Ask for help if you need it. Accepting and adapting to change is not a simple feat and admitting that you’re struggling or wanting to speak to someone for advice is part of acknowledging and dealing with the situation. Not only this, but it illustrates that you’re committed to continuous learning and self-improvement – a skill that will be in high demand in the new era of work.
3. Be proactive
Focus on being as proactive as possible. Ask yourself what steps you can take to protect yourself and get yourself ready for the future. Are there any particular skills gaps that you’ve always wanted to develop but haven’t had the time? What about how your job role and function might change as a result of the crisis? Are there any areas you would need to upskill in?
If you’re finding yourself with more time on your hands due to the crisis, then you could use this time to research training materials, attend webinars, read and listen to podcasts. Being productive will help to alleviate your anxieties; not just because your mind will be occupied with learning new skills or further developing existing skills, but because it will make you feel calmer in the knowledge that you are using your time wisely to future-proof yourself and your career.
Now would also be a really good time to update your CV and LinkedIn profile and research jobs, especially if you seemed to lack the time for these things pre-crisis. Consider reconnecting with old colleagues or other business contacts, too. Networking is a powerful tool and, at times like this, talking to people can really help you to feel less isolated and anxious.
It’s important to note that turning your anxieties into proactive action doesn’t always have to be work-related. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn another language or play an instrument? Alternatively, you could take on a sporting or fitness challenge.
4. Create a vision for the future
Rather than focusing your energy on how you’re feeling about your current situation or any concerns, now might be the time to really reflect on your career and goals. Ask yourself whether they are still representative of what you actually want from your life.
Revising or creating your long-term career plan will help to reduce any anxiety you feel about what is happening right now. It will remind you that we will get through this, and there will be a future. Focusing on that gives us the hope and positive attitude that everything will work out.
You might create a vision board, for example, instead of simply writing down sentences as you assemble your new or revised plan. Your imagination can be a powerful tool for creating positive emotions while planning your future.
5. Think about your financial safety net
Many people’s anxieties about job security revolve around the practical consequences of losing their income.
Start by being clear on what you need each month to pay your bills and think about all of the ways you can reduce expenses or unnecessary spending. But also be realistic about how, and how much, you can earn and save.
If there’s something you’ve always enjoyed doing but never had sufficient time or inclination to explore, why not use this opportunity to investigate it as a possible route to building your financial safety net and even bolstering your future employability.
6. Practise positive thinking
It is hugely important right now to adopt an optimistic mindset. Doing so will help you to feel calmer and better able to cope with this current period of uncertainty. And the happier you are, the more productive and indispensable you are likely to be as an employee.
You might not be able to do the usual things that make you feel happy but try to explore alternative options. If, for example, going to a friend’s house isn’t currently possible, why not organise regular video chats instead?
Practise self-care and know that some days will be more difficult than others. Even if you do all of the ‘right’ things for your mental health, it is important to acknowledge that there could be days that you find more challenging, or when your anxiety feels less manageable, and that this is OK. We’re all going through a lot of change right now – if not necessarily in our jobs, then certainly in terms of the wider world we’re living in – so remember to be kind to yourself and focus on tomorrow being a brighter day.
By Alex Fraser
Alex Fraser is group head of change at Hays. A version of this article previously appeared on the Hays Viewpoint Blog.