In the middle of a recession, the average worker is probably more focused on doing whatever's necessary to stay employed. Not showing up late, getting all your work done, bringing new ideas to the table and not making any major errors. Basically, not giving your boss a reason to fire you.
As good as those strategies are, they don't take into account the one person whose opinion really counts: the boss.
See, being a good employee is an important part of avoiding layoffs, not just in a recession, but all the time. Plenty of other workers and job seekers can replace you if you're just doing the bare minimum. Not everyone can be your substitute if the boss has come to rely on you to be a part of his or her success.
Of course, you're probably thinking: Shouldn't I be more concerned with making myself look good?