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U.S. Workers Are Pleased With Their Employers' Response to COVID-19 but Still Worry About Job Security

By Maurie Backman - May 12, 2020 at 10:18AM

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Although employers have stepped up to keep employees safe and well informed, many still fear layoffs. Here are four steps to take if you're one of them.

The COVID-19 crisis has done extensive damage to the U.S. economy already, and the longer it drags on, the tougher our recovery is apt to be. But as difficult as things have been for individuals, the companies that employ them have been thrust into a very tricky set of circumstances, too.

The good news? Most workers are pleased with the way their employers have handled things in light of COVID-19, according to a recent survey by Workfest powered by Zenefits, an HR software company. Specifically, 67% of employees believe their employers genuinely care about their well-being and have taken steps to make that clear during the pandemic. And 74% think their employers took the right precautions to ensure employee safety during the crisis.

Man with a serious expression sits at laptop.

Image source: Getty Images.

A big part of protecting employees boils down to clear communication, and in this regard, 68% of employees agree that their employers have stepped up. But despite all of this positive news, workers remain concerned about their jobs.

Specifically, 51% of employees surveyed are anxious about their employment status given the state of the economy. And about half of workers think that the companies they work for won't last longer than three months without some type of financial assistance, or without the economy being able to open back up.

If you're worried about losing your job in the course of the ongoing crisis, you're clearly not alone. Here are four steps to take if that's a major concern.

1. Talk to your employer

Your employer may have more financial reserves than you'd expect. Before you spend sleepless nights worrying about a potential layoff, have an honest conversation with your boss. Express that you're concerned about losing your job and ask for a realistic view of where things stand in that regard. Your boss may tell you that your department is last on the chopping block, which could help you breathe easier. Or you may learn that your worries are legitimate, in which case having that knowledge can help you prepare for a layoff accordingly.

2. Assess your savings

Part of the reason so many Americans are struggling financially right now is that they don't have cash reserves in the bank. But if you have a healthy level of emergency savings, you may be in a stronger position to ride out a layoff should that come to be. Look at your savings balance and compare it to what your expenses entail. You may get some peace of mind if you see that you can easily cover three or four months' worth of bills without having to resort to a backup plan.

3. Read up on unemployment benefits

Generally speaking, you're entitled to unemployment benefits if you lose your job through no fault of your own. These days, unemployment benefits are more generous than they've been in the past. As part of the COVID-19 relief package that was passed in March, you're now entitled to an extra $600 a week in addition to your regular unemployment benefit. This holds true even if that $600 boost results in a raise. Unemployment has also been extended by 13 weeks, which means you may be entitled to up to 39 weeks of benefits.

4. Figure out what you'll do about health insurance

You may have a decent chunk of cash in emergency savings, and you may be entitled to a respectable unemployment benefit should your job be taken away. But what about health insurance? At a time like this, you can't afford to not have coverage, so spend some time researching your options. You may be able to retain your existing insurance, albeit at a cost. Or your employer may agree to extend your coverage for a while and subsidize your premiums. It's certainly worth having that conversation.

Though it's encouraging to see that most employees think their employers have handled the ongoing crisis well, that doesn't negate the fear of losing their jobs. If you're worried about layoffs, take the above steps. The more information you gather, the more empowered you'll feel at a time when so much uncertainty abounds.

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