What's your Problem?

How serious is the recession?

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Q: How seriously should I take talk of the UK slipping into a recession?

I'm starting to get nervous about my job security. Should I be building up my savings? And cut back on the holidays? Compared to some of my friends, I don't have that much credit card debt but do have a big mortgage. Am I being paranoid or should I start making myself indispensable to my boss?

A: At the risk of sounding frivolous, I've always suspected that the only people who should be seriously apprehensive about downturns and recessions are those who are blithely certain that downturns and recessions will never happen - and even if they do, they believe a recession will never affect them. So they go on borrowing and they go on spending - and most of the time, of course, they'll go on getting away with it. But, just occasionally, they crash and burn with dreadful consequences.

You, quite clearly, don't come into this category; so if my theory is right, you'll be just fine. The fact that you're already nervous will be more than enough to deter you from reckless improvidence - which, anyway, doesn't seem to be your style, even when things are rosier.

At the same time, and while avoiding paranoia, you're right to think about job security. I don't know what line of business you're in, but when tough times bite, companies in some sectors have no choice but to shed jobs fast; and it's not always the baddies who go and the deserving who survive.

But even that unnerving fact doesn't mean that you should set about 'making yourself indispensable to your boss'. Perhaps unfairly, that way of putting it suggested to me a slightly cringe-making attempt to ingratiate yourself. That only works with bad bosses. Good bosses spot it for what it is - and that could do you more harm than good.

So don't let your present nervousness colour your actions. By all means, save a bit more if you can. But above all, just be your usual conscientious self.

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