How to never get laid off

How to Be an Unfireable Employee

Can you feel it? There’s always invigorating can-do energy in the air at the start of a new year and we’re thinking a lot about changes we might make to improve our work. So, why not funnel that energy into job security? Especially after the wild year that was 2023. Okay, so some things, like layoffs, are out of your control. We’re not talking about those instances. We’re focusing on the aspects of your work and attitude that you can control. Consider this list of must-have qualities if you want to be that nearly unfireable employee.

1. Get that PMA

Aka, a Positive Mental Attitude, is probably your most valuable asset in life. When you find yourself focusing too much on trying to make work make you happy, you need to flip your thinking. Focus on what you’re grateful for every time you wake up and every time you go to sleep. Gratitude is so much more powerful than we give it credit. The simple act of identifying the things we're grateful for introduces a positive outlook by getting you to focus on what’s most important. And when you're aware of what's going well? That little scuffle or inconvenience you have at work will always pale in comparison to the greater joys of life. So how do you enact a PMA at work? Instead of taking challenges or criticism to dark places, you can channel them into improving your work. Positivity coupled with being proactive against challenges is contagious, too, and this quality ensures they’ll want to keep you around.

2. Keep Track of Your Performance

It’s important to look at each of your projects and continually evaluate how you did. Ask yourself (and your manager) where you can improve. Ask your partners for stats on how your past projects have done or are currently performing. This action is extremely helpful for you in the long and short run. In the short run, you’ll have a better metric of your success and will be able to focus on what needs improvement for your next project. In the long run, you’ll have stats and measurable success to report on your annual performance review and in use cases on your portfolio. The professional who is proactively in charge of their development while accepting and acting on criticism is the one who demonstrates strength and tenacity within a company—and no one wants to let go of someone with that type of self-awareness and humility!

3. Stay Agile and Adaptable

From the increased use of AI to even the smallest changes in client preferences, the world of creative work is constantly changing. The employees who know how to adapt to these changes (instead of griping or resisting) will be the ones who stick around. In addition, the employees who look at changes as new exciting challenges—by harnessing that PMA!—will be the ones who find themselves enjoying their work while making overall improvements for the company. Anyone who presents a limber, adaptable work attitude is a joy to work with and less likely to find themselves a target of firing.

4. Be a Continuous Learner

Whether that means you’re taking a few courses or you’re actively engaging and learning from your coworkers, a continuous learner is a truly valuable employee to have around. This type of person displays humility and empathy by acknowledging that they don’t know everything! They’ll be the type to learn, improve, and find better ways of operating every time. So always be on the lookout for new things to learn (and take advantage of education benefits if your company offers them). Companies take notice of people who actively engage with new technology and independently improve their own skill set.

5. Be a Proactive Problem-Solver

A person who meets challenges head-on is the thoughtful, courageous type that companies want to keep. This quality doesn’t come easily to most of us (and you’re lucky if you’ve never had a problem in this area). If you tend to run from problems, ask yourself why. Most often people are afraid of asking for help when answers aren’t coming easily. They’re worried more about how they’ll be perceived and less about getting the work done. If this sounds like you, you must get over your ego and simply dive in! Gather the facts. Brainstorm and write out possible avenues to take. Research the competition. Test your ideas. Outside opinions are super beneficial, so talk to your manager and your co-workers about the difficult project at hand. Being a proactive problem-solver doesn’t mean you’re going it alone—it means you’re taking initiative and you recognize that great work is rarely (if ever) done in isolation.

TLDR; To become indispensable in 2024, there are five basic qualities you’ll need to channel: have a positive outlook, measure your performance, stay adaptable, continually learn, and be a proactive problem-solver. While other parts of the job might lie outside your control, you will always have these personal qualities to lean on and use to bounce back from life’s unforeseen changes. 

Cheers to a great year ahead, Creative! 

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