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strengthen/['streŋθən]/ vt. 加强, 变坚固 vi. 变强, 股票上涨 ...

你会是下一个被裁的人吗?

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As layoffs spread, part-timers, flex-timers and telecommuters fear they'll be the first to go. Unfortunately, they're sometimes right.

The outcome depends on where you work. At some employers, people on reduced-hours or work-at-home setups are the first to fall under the budget ax; other employers revert to an 'all hands on deck' mode and revoke flexible arrangements. At other companies, however, oddball work setups are considered an advantage in the drive for efficiency. Either way, hanging onto a flexible work setup during a recession requires planning -- and luck.

In tough times, many employers revert to thinking critical jobs can only be done full-time, flat-out and under the boss's nose. Hilary Achauer, a San Diego marketing specialist for a nonprofit concern, sought to return to work part-time from maternity leave last year, but was offered a full-time management job instead. When she passed it up, she was diverted to a marginal job, then axed in February, while the employee who took the full-time slot was spared. 'When the going gets tough,' she says, some employers say, ''That person is only part-time, let's get rid of them.''

On the other hand, employers who are equipped to measure output against costs may see an efficient part-timer or telecommuter as an asset. A part-timer hired last fall by a retailing client of Flexperience, a Burlingame, Calif., consulting firm, thought she'd be the first to be laid off, says Sally Thornton, president of Flexperience. But she was so productive at reduced pay, Ms. Thornton says, that her employer chose to keep her over more senior full-timers. Work-at-home employees also confer savings, on real estate and office costs.

Indeed, in the current recession, more employers are using flexible setups to save money. Based on an April survey by Towers Perrin of 700 employers, 21% to 32% are either implementing or considering part-time shifts or four-day workweeks, as a cost-cutting tool. Of course, employees usually don't have a choice under these circumstances and may not welcome the change.

In general, the number of employees working flexibly at their own request usually stalls or declines in a recession, not only because employers cut back but because employees fear straying from the norm. The number of corporate telecommuters edged lower in the 2001 recession, then recovered, only to decline to 8.7 million in 2009 from 9.2 million in 2006, says Ray Boggs of IDC, a Framingham, Mass., research concern.

Some managers harbor stereotypes that people who work part-time or take leaves lack commitment. Amid rising discrimination complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency is holding a hearing Wednesday on bias against people with caregiving duties.

To improve your survival chances, ask yourself, 'What's most important to my company right now, and how do I make sure I'm contributing to that, and that my achievement is visible to my boss?' says Sarah Grayson, a partner in On-Ramps, a New York search firm.

'If you're doing something peripheral, figure out how to get involved with something that is not,' says Liz Polk Lynch, a San Francisco group manager for a software firm. At her company, 'I've never had anyone come to me and say, 'So-and-so doesn't work Fridays, so can we let them go?'' says Ms. Lynch. 'I hear, 'So-and-so's job performance seems to be slipping, or they don't seem to be working on critical projects, so can we let them go?''

Make sure your goals are clear and your output first-rate. Establish 'an ongoing conversation' with your boss, says Cali Williams Yost, a Madison, N.J., consultant. 'Sit down, talk about how it's working.'

Be willing to bend a bit -- even though it forces work-life sacrifices. Part-timer Anne Abreu, a San Mateo, Calif., insurance specialist, knows her schedule puts her 'under the spotlight,' she says. So she is often at the office on her day off to work or attend meetings. In a nontraditional setup, she says, 'you need to be realistic, be flexible and deliver results.'

随着裁员风潮的蔓延,兼职者、享受弹性工作制的员工、以及电子通勤族担心自己会是首先被裁掉的。有时候还真不幸被他们言中了。

这要取决于你在哪家公司上班。预算紧张时,有些雇主会首先考虑裁减那些非全职或是在家工作的员工。有些雇主则会回归“所有人都来公司全职上班”的模式,取消弹性工作制。不过,也有些公司把非常规工作制视为提高效率的一种优势。无论怎样,在衰退期间保持弹性工作制都需要规划,还有运气。

困难时期,很多雇主会回到老的想法上,认为重要的工作只有全职、全力以赴、在老板眼皮底下才能完成。希拉里•阿奇沃(Hilary Achauer)是圣地亚哥一家非营利机构的营销专家。她去年休完产假后曾想回公司做兼职工作,不过老板却要给她一个全职的管理职位。当她婉拒后,就被发配到一个无关紧要的工作岗位上,之后在2月份被裁员了,而接受了那份全职工作的员工则幸免被裁员的厄运。她说,当形势困难时,有些雇主会说,“那个人只是个兼职,让我们把他裁掉吧”。

另一方面,那些考虑了产出成本比的雇主则可能看到一个高效率的兼职者或是电子通勤族是笔财富。加州咨询公司Flexperience的总裁萨利•桑顿(Sally Thornton)说,该公司的一个零售客户去年秋天雇了一个兼职者,这个人以为自己会是第一个被裁掉的人。桑顿说,但是这名员工薪水低、效率高,于是她的雇主决定把她留下来,而把更资深的全职员工裁掉了。在家工作的员工还能为公司省钱,比如在房地产和办公成本上。

的确,在当前这场衰退中,有更多的雇主开始利用弹性工作制来省钱。根据Towers Perrin今年4月份对700家雇主进行的调查,其中有21%-32%的雇主正在实施或考虑实施兼职倒班制或是4天工作制,把这作为一项削减成本的措施。当然,在这种情况下,员工通常没有选择,他们或许并不喜欢这样的改变。

总体来讲,在衰退时期,自己要求实行弹性工作制的员工数量通常会不变或是减少,原因不只是雇主在缩减开支,还因为员工担心会偏离了常规。马萨诸塞州大型研究机构国际数据公司(IDC)的雷•伯格斯(Ray Boggs)说,2001年衰退期间,企业的电子通勤族数量小幅下降,之后回升,不过2009年又从2006年的920万人减少至870万人。

一些管理人士有这样的成见,他们认为兼职者或是在家工作的员工缺少承诺。平等就业机会委员会(Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)收到的歧视投诉越来越多,该机构最近举行了听证会,内容是关于对护理人员的歧视。

纽约调查公司On-Ramps的萨拉•格里森(Sarah Grayson)说,为了提高你的生存几率,自问一下:目前对你的公司来说什么是最重要的?你如何确保为此贡献力量?如何确保你的成就被老板看到了?

旧金山某软件公司的团队经理莉斯•林奇(Liz Polk Lynch)说,如果你做的事无关紧要,想办法参与比较重要的事。她说,在我的公司里,从来没人对我说,“谁谁周五不工作,能不能让他们先走”;我听到的是,“谁谁的工作表现似乎在下降,或他们似乎没有在做重要的项目,能不能把他们打发了”?

确保你的目标明确、表现一流。新泽西州顾问卡利•约斯特(Cali Williams Yost)说,经常和你的老板沟通,坐下来,谈谈做得怎么样了。

另外,要做出适度的让步,即便这意味着要在工作生活之间作出一些牺牲。加州兼职保险专家安妮•阿布瑞尤(Anne Abreu)说,她明白她的工作时间是众人关注的焦点。所以她常常在该休假的时候呆在办公室工作或是参加会议。她说,在一种非常规的情况下,你需要现实一点儿、灵活一点儿、把工作做好。

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