05/07/2010 04:14 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Canned or Not, Layoffs Affect Everyone

Whew! The good news is that you just survived the most recent round of layoffs. The bad news is that your job just got bigger. Your title hasn't changed and there's no raise in sight, just more work for you to do, since there are fewer employees. How do you keep up with your workload when more is being piled on?

1. Keep Things in Perspective -- You may have more work to do, but at least you're still drawing a paycheck. If that doesn't give you comfort, it should. It's better than the alternative, being laid off and trying to find a job in a tough economy. Another plus to taking on new responsibilities is that it's an opportunity to increase your skill set, which can make you more valuable internally and externally.

2. Set Your Boss's Expectations -- Just like David Letterman has his "Top 10" list, you and your boss should agree on yours. Meet with your boss and let him/her know that you are going to do your best under the circumstances. Have in mind your list of top projects and the rationale for why they are important. Get agreement from your boss on which projects can be assigned a lower priority. It's likely that your boss is under additional pressure as well, and your approach to your new workload will be one less thing for them to worry about.

3. Be More Efficient -- There's a saying "work expands to fill the time allotted." There's also a saying "If you want something done, get a busy person to do it." Land somewhere between these extremes. This is a great time to look at your job with fresh eyes. What can you do more efficiently? Are there reports that can be shortened, combined or deleted all together? Examine every component of your job -- don't take anything for granted, as there is always an opportunity to streamline processes.

4. Use Outside Resources -- It's not unusual for companies in the aftermath of a layoff, to allow the use of contract/temporary workers to pick up the slack. Even a part-time extra pair of hands can help. Only by asking will you find out if your company is willing to go this route.

5. Be a Nicer Co-Worker -- Cut backs affect all departments and it's likely that many other employees are doing more with fewer resources. Recognizing that your co-workers may be feeling the same psychological pressures that you are, make the extra effort to be even nicer to them. The nicer you are, the more they'll do for you. After all, you can't say "The hole is on your side of the boat." You all succeed or fail together.

It's all in how you look at things. More work doesn't have to mean more stress. Just take a one-day-at-a-time approach and do your best. The old axioms in business don't hold true anymore. Like Yogi Berra said "The future ain't what it used to be." Look on this as an opportunity to shine in difficult times.

Fred & Gladys
Whelan Stone
Executive Search and Coaching
Authors of GOAL! Your 30 Day Career Plan for Business & Career Success