I’m worried I’m going to get laid off — what can I do?

I’ve been employed at my job for many years. We had a management change last year, and since then things have been chaotic. Four of my co-workers over the age of 65 have been pushed out or resigned. I feel like I’m going to be next. I can’t go to HR because they are involved. What advice can you give me?

Just because several of your colleagues of a certain age have left doesn’t mean there is something nefarious going on. It could simply be voluntary. Some companies offer buyouts rather than having to lay people off, so your colleagues may be opting out. That said, it’s prudent to protect yourself. Document what has transpired — names, dates and the conversations that you’ve had about your performance. Despite what you may believe about HR’s involvement, you need to register your concerns with them, if for no other reason than to document that you did. In the meantime, don’t create a self-fulfilling situation. Continue staying positive and perform well.

There’s a position I want working for my former boss, but there’s a nonpoaching agreement that prevents him from hiring back former staff for another six months. Can my employer prevent me from taking the job?

Most likely, yes. If your former boss agreed to a contract that prevents him from hiring any of his former staff for a period of time, then your boss and his employer can be subject to stiff penalties and even an injunction preventing your hire. To avoid potential litigation and burning a bridge, you are better off explaining to your current employer that there is a great opportunity with your former boss that you would like to explore. Tell them that he has informed you that he is unable to hire you without a release from the company, and professionally ask if they will grant their approval. Your employer will appreciate the respect and transparency and may grant it. It may also be a catalyst for a conversation about what they can do to retain you. The worst case is that they say no, and you wait until the nonpoach period has expired, provided your boss can wait or has another role for you then.

Marco Harmon

I was born and raised in Roanoke, VA. I studied Communications Studies at Roanoke College, and I’ve been part of the news industry ever since. Visiting my favorite downtown Roanoke bars and restaurants with my friends is how I spend most of my free time when I'm not at the desk.

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