How to Keep Your Current Job

If you’re part of the American workforce, you are likely concerned about the security of your present job or the job of a family member. As I visit around the country and read your emails, it is obvious to me that Christians everywhere are struggling.

Despite God’s promise of provision, we are not immune from the difficulties of life. The laws of physics apply to Christians just like they do to everyone. If I step off the roof while hanging Christmas ornaments, no matter how godly I am, gravity is going to take over. In a bad economy we are all susceptible to market forces.

However, as a previous employer and now a minister who travels the country teaching financial stewardship, I have some thoughts you might find helpful if you are still employed but concerned that it may not stay that way. These are some practical things you can do that may help you keep your job.

1. Earn your keep. It’s sad this even needs to be said. But today, even many Christians no longer have an honest work ethic. Most of us would agree that stealing office supplies is wrong. But some of us don’t understand that it is equally wrong to accept a day’s pay without delivering a day’s worth of work. When we’re on the boss’s clock that means we should be working for the boss. Billions of work hours are lost yearly by employees who add an extra 5 or 10 minutes to their breaks, or who spend company time buying gifts on the Internet, or who don’t hesitate to make personal phone calls when no one’s watching. This is a spiritual issue some of us need to confront.

Spiritual issues aside, in today’s tough business climate there is a practical reason for being a dedicated, conscientious worker — to keep your job. All over the country companies are cutting back. If you are not clearly helping to pull the company cart, you’re probably in it. Employees who don’t pull their own weight (and more) will tend to be the first to be laid off.

2. Understand that perception is reality. This may ruffle a few feathers, but it’s true. These days, it’s more important than ever to be your own public relations person promoting Brand You. Be sure that your boss knows what you’re doing. Be seen working. If the only time you bump into your supervisor is at the lunch room, she is likely not to understand the bucket load of duties on your daily “to do” list. Of course, done incorrectly, this can come off very badly and do more harm than good. You don’t want to be seen as a self-promoter, simply someone who is known for your diligence.

This is especially important if your job is not directly involved in generating company profits. Simply put, most firms have two groups of employees:

1. Those who make money for the company (salespeople), and…

2. Those who support them (clerical, bookkeeping, etc.)

If you are part of the support team it is especially important to put your best foot forward. Most managers hesitate to dismiss salespeople because they are clearly benefiting the company’s efforts. Not so with support people. While necessary, they are frequently viewed as “expenses” to the company’s operations. As a support person, it is wise to help the boss clearly see how you are helping the salespeople be more productive and do their thing — by effectively doing yours.

3. Be great at what you do. Strive for excellence. I used to tell my employees that if they did their job well, there would come a wonderful day for them: The day that I needed them more than they needed me! There are great dividends to be had by becoming the best in your field (or, at least the best in your office.) Take time to learn your company’s culture. Read articles in professional journals that will improve your job performance.

4. Take on extra duties. Your company is looking for team players. The more readily you accept an extra assignment, the less likely you will be to get a pink slip. There are a hundred ways to do this. Why not be the person who learns how the computer server network links the computers together? Or, be the one who knows how to fix the copier when it jams.

5. Be sympathetic. Try to put yourself into the boss’s shoes. Understand the pressures that he deals with daily. Then, look for ways to lighten his load. I think it was the famous motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, who used to say, “You can always get all that you want, if you will first help enough other people get what they want.”

6. Be a nice person. Sounds overly simplistic, doesn’t it? But the truth is, it’s hard to be tough on a really nice person that everyone likes. This is where your Christian walk will help. Just do one thing: reflect Jesus.

Will these tips save your job? No, not necessarily. But, by applying them, they will help on two levels: First, their application will lessen the likelihood you’ll be asked to leave. Second, if you are laid off you’ll know that you did everything right — and have no regrets.

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