In today’s economy, layoffs have become commonplace across all industries, and job security is uncertain for a large percentage of those in the workforce. The number one question all employees should be asking themselves is – are you providing value to your company? If you’re not, you may find yourself on the chopping block.

When a company is facing financial difficulties, every dollar counts. Companies are vigilant in their efforts to reduce costs and improve efficiency. In this context, employees who are not adding value to the company become a liability. They are draining resources and costing the company money without providing any significant return on investment. In a volatile economy, businesses simply cannot afford to carry dead weight.

Professional athletes are often held up as paragons of professionalism in their respective fields. They are expected to consistently perform at a high level, lead their team to success, and contribute to the overall growth of the franchise. When an athlete’s performance falls short of expectations, they are no longer providing value to their team. In turn, they become an expense, and they are either traded or released to bring in fresh talent.

Some of the greatest athletes of all time have been traded to other teams because their performance failed to meet the organization’s expectations, and the team sought fresh talent. For example, Wayne Gretzky, widely regarded as the greatest hockey player of all time, was traded from the Los Angeles Kings to the St. Louis Blues in 1996, and later to the New York Rangers, as his performance declined towards the end of his career. Similarly, Alex Rodriguez, a New York Yankees legend and one of the best baseball players of his generation, was traded to the Miami Marlins in 2016 after a decline in performance in the later years of his career. Kobe Bryant, a five-time NBA champion and one of the greatest basketball players of all time, was traded to the Charlotte Hornets in 2016 for salary cap relief, despite signing a two-year, $48.5 million contract extension with the Los Angeles Lakers just three years earlier. Even the best of the best cannot avoid being traded  or let go because the demand for winning and survival is greater than keeping around talent who isn’t supporting it. 

This principle applies not just to professional athletes but to employees in all industries. As an employee, you are expected to consistently provide value to your company. Whether it’s meeting sales targets, delivering projects on time and within budget, or contributing to the overall growth and success of the company, employees are expected to perform at their best at all times. Just as professional athletes may be traded to another team in order to improve the overall performance of the franchise, employees may be let go in order to improve the overall performance of the organization. It’s simple: if you’re not providing value, you’re an expense, and you’ll be the first to go when your company is trying to cut costs.