With so much uncertainty about what tomorrow will bring, it is understandable that many people may be feeling anxious about their job security. However, there is also every reason to be hopeful and optimistic. The coronavirus crisis is revealing a world of new opportunity and a new era of work. It will be different, but that doesn’t mean it will be worse.
Of course, feeling anxious at this time is completely natural, but it’s important to learn that the best way to deal with anxiety isn’t to simply try to ignore it or allow it to overwhelm your mind and thoughts. Instead, you need to take control – doing so will help you to 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.
So, let’s look at some of the steps you could take to calm your anxieties around your job security.
In the words of Jonathan Alpert, psychotherapist and author of ‘Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days’, “As with many situations, perception is key and that begins in your mind. So next time you find yourself in a situation where you feel you have no control, take some time to change your thinking. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how you go from feeling powerless to powerful.”
It is also important to note, however, that unfortunately no manager or senior stakeholder is going to be able to give anyone a concrete guarantee of certainty around their role right now. What you can do, though, is work to develop trust and transparency with your manager, such that you have a view of what’s happening in your organisation and what you can be doing to reinforce your value.
Once you’ve asked yourself these questions and come up with some answers, it’s a good idea to talk to your line manager to get their insights, in addition to other people whose opinion you value. This will help you to validate and challenge your own perceptions and assumptions to ensure you are on the right track and are being objective and realistic.
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 is hugely important right now – for the sake of your own wellbeing – to do your best to adopt an optimistic mindset in the face of whatever circumstances you may be facing. 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. I can imagine that, right now, you’re thinking that staying positive during times like this is much easier said than done. And I agree, but I’ll walk you through a couple of practical steps you can take to help you remain optimistic.
You may have days when you feel more optimistic without seemingly needing to make much effort to be so. When this happens, ask yourself why you may feel this way. Perhaps it was due to a specific act, such as doing some exercise or having a nice phone call with a relative? By analysing how the positivity may have arisen, you will be able to replicate it more frequently, while better understanding the cues that affect your mood and lift your spirits.
It is important to be mindful of when you might be struggling, so that you can then do something to lift your mood. Or to be a little more proactive, perhaps you could even establish a ‘thinking and thanking’ ritual, whereby you commit each day to noting down and being grateful for at least three good things that happened that day? This can further help you to maintain the focus on positivity.
After all, our CEO Alistair Cox, wisely reflected recently that “you may have hit the pause button in your life for a period of a few weeks or a few months, but you can’t hit the stop button. […] Reflect on what you want from your life and career, understand your potential and how you can realise that potential, decide what skills you need and then go out there and get them. The ability to learn the skills you need is out there, if you have the right approach.”
While there could be a number of reasons you might feel concerned right now, we should also recognise that there are an equal number of reasons to feel hopeful and optimistic about the future. Most will find that their professional life will change in some way as a result of this crisis. But remember that change doesn’t mean it will be worse, it just means it will be different. By following the above advice, you can take more control of what this change will mean for you and ensure you come out of it even stronger than before.
It’s always good to plan and prepare yourself for change in your professional career, in both good times and bad. If you take the time now to review your current skill set – both strengths and development areas – and create a proactive plan to build on them, you will be going a long way to future-proofing your career. At the same time, you should try to view the experiences that you go through now as an opportunity for growth, improving your adaptability and ability to deal with change – qualities that future employers will no doubt look for in potential employees.
As a last word, I thought I’d leave you with another Harvard Business Review video around coping with anxiety and uncertainty at work amid the coronavirus pandemic. This conversation between Amy Gallo and Morra Aarons-Melle – the latter the host of the podcast ‘The Anxious Achiever’ – covers many of the issues that professionals have to deal with at this strange time.
Hopefully, I will have helped to allay at least some of your worries in this blog, and equipped you with some of the tools and advice that will enable you to better deal with any anxieties that may remain. Adopt the most positive and forward-looking outlook now, and you will be well-placed to continue thriving professionally, long after the worst of the crisis has passed.
Alex Fraser is the Group Head of Change at Hays. Alex joined Hays from KPMG last year, from where she led the development of our own Hays Change methodology. Alex has responsibility for developing our change capability globally, driving our key strategic change projects, and ensuring that we maintain a truly agile culture, where sustainable change is a key part of the norm enabling continuing growth of the business. She brings with her with over 20 years consultancy experience, managing and leading large scale global transformation programmes and embedding sustainable change in complex environments. Alex is also a qualified professional and strengths based coach and has worked extensively with a diverse range of global organisations at all levels of businesses across the people agenda.
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