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Friday, March 13, 2020

22 Signs You're About To Be Laid Off

Sometimes a layoff takes employees by surprise. But there are usually signs, if you are paying attention. Here are some signs the company may be cutting back:

  • Paychecks bounce or are late: If your paycheck bounces or is late once, okay, maybe a glitch. But if it happens more than once, it's fair to assume the company is in trouble. Don't let them get further and further behind. If they aren't paying you, start looking and get the heck out of there.
  • Vendor checks bounce or are late: If vendors start complaining they haven't been paid, the company is probably  having financial trouble.
  • Job postings: It's good to keep track of company job postings. If you see a posting that looks suspiciously like your job, but it has a different title or lower pay, you are probably going to be "eliminated."
  • Out of the loop: If you're suddenly excluded from meetings, told to hand over information about your projects to someone else, they suddenly want you to describe from A to Z every single thing you do and how, or they suddenly want you to turn over all your business contacts, you're probably about to be replaced.
  • Budget cuts: A company in trouble may cancel projects or put projects on hold, start watching every single paper clip bought, or limit business travel and entertainment. Maybe that coffee quality drops or is eliminated. Free sodas and snacks disappear. That's a sign there's financial trouble.
  • Losses or revenue drops: If you have access to the company financials, some big losses, a major customer loss, or a severe or lengthy drop in revenue can signal long term financial trouble. If the company's product becomes the equivalent of a horse buggy, if a big product flops or fails to launch, if there's bad press, if the stock price drops, the company is in trouble.
  • Hiring freeze: When anyone leaves, someone else has to absorb their job. Double the work for the same pay. Fun! Time to start looking.
  • Supervisors are leaving: If your boss gets laid off or leaves, it may be time to look elsewhere. A new boss could want their own team, and many times bosses leaving can signal financial or other trouble in the department. If your bosses start taking their personal items home, that's a sign they're headed out.
  • Whispers and closed door meetings: If management starts having secret meetings or whispering, there is something afoot. It probably isn't good. 
  • Reassignments and restructuring: If entire teams starting being reassigned, positions restructured, even if it isn't your department yet, that's a sign there is some trouble brewing.
  • You lose access to email: If your password stops working for emails and other company documents, it's possible HR had a miscommunication with tech about when to pull the trigger. It may well not be a glitch. If you ask about it and there seems to be a lot of confusion and stammering, you're already gone.
  • Training: You're told to train a new employee in every aspect of your job. That's your replacement.
  • Won't look at you: If management or even coworkers suddenly can't look you in the eye, avoid you, or stop talking when you're nearby, you're being let go.
  • They used the words: If bosses start discussing or hinting about layoffs, restructuring, cutbacks, outsourcing, offshoring, or other similar terms, believe them.
  • Prior layoffs: If there has been a round (or more) of layoffs already, assume you could be next.
  • Conference rooms booked: If all the conference rooms are booked, especially if by HR, and even more especially if tissue boxes appear in them, a mass layoff is coming.
  • Security: If security guards start appearing, or if there is a sudden police presence, today is possibly layoff day.
  • Boss gets weird: If your boss starts acting odd, gives you a bad vibe, loses interest in your projects, looks uncomfortable, they may know something you don't about your future.
  • Raises on hold: If the company freezes wages, that's a sign there's financial trouble.
  • They tell you: If you have write-ups or disciplines, you are on notice you might lose your job. If they send you a WARN notice, there's definitely going to be a layoff.
  • Merger or acquisition: If your company is merging or being gobbled up by another company, there will be consolidations and cutbacks. This is always a very risky time.
  • HR wants to meet: If you're called into a meeting with HR, and they don't tell you what it's about, you may be getting let go at that meeting.

With some of these, you have enough warning to start looking elsewhere. If you are blindsided, just listen and take in the information. Don't do anything drastic or sign a severance agreement. Ask for copies of anyting they want you to sign and read carefully. Take to a lawyer if you don't understand or think you have potential claims.

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I appreciate your comments and general questions but this isn't the place to ask confidential legal questions. If you need an employee-side employment lawyer, try http://exchange.nela.org/findalawyer to locate one in your state.