In a struggling economy, it's best to be prepared for the worst; layoff warning signs can be clues that your employer is getting ready to let you go. Of course, layoffs can happen in any economy, so it's wise to be aware of the signs so you'll know if you should begin looking for a back-up plan.
Overview of Layoff Warning Signs
Though you certainly shouldn't believe every rumor you hear, sometimes grapevine talk can be a huge hint that your company is about to go through some changes-possibly layoffs. Has your company been rumored to be negotiating with another one about a merger? There's a chance that layoffs are coming. Sometimes rumors come too late to have time to plan ahead, but there are other signs to watch out for, too.
If you notice your company cutting costs in many areas, they could be suffering. Cutting the costs of labor where possible is potentially on the horizon. Cutting costs could just mean that they're getting smarter about where their money goes and simply trying to be more efficient. However, if it seems as if the company is doing a financial overhaul and cutting back everywhere, there may be a deeper problem. Some of the cost cuts may directly affect you before the layoffs happen. For example, you could get little or no raise when the time arises, or there could be a freeze in promotions. In some cases, the company will even bring in consultant to help them become more efficient. This often results in cutting jobs.
One other obvious sign is when a company earns less than they expected. A single, short rough period may not be much to worry about, but if it's routine or the earnings were much, much lower than expected, expect to see some layoffs. If you can watch your company in the stock market and it sinks low, low, low, it might be time to run.
Outsourcing is generally another bad sign. The more outsourcing your company starts to do, the worse it is. Opting for cheap overseas labor in bulk is a sign that a company is suffering financially. Restructuring of any kind, either handing off work to employees overseas or just restructuring within the company (shuffling around who reports to whom frequently), can signal a round of layoffs.
Have you noticed additional security in your office? If so, that is yet another sign of impending layoffs. Companies sometimes hire them when they're about to be laying off at least a few employees in case someone doesn't handle the news well.
How to Know You're Being Laid Off
Sometimes you can get an even more specific idea when it comes to layoff warning signs. You could find out ahead of time that you are one of the ones being laid off, not just that your company will be doing layoffs in the near future.
If people stop talking to you about future plans for the company, cutting you out of meetings, minimizing your job duties, or they're really nice to you all of a sudden, that could mean that you're one of the ones on the chopping block.
You may notice there are fewer emails in your work inbox. Projects you were assigned to or would normally be assigned to are suddenly not in your hands anymore. Even if you ask about layoffs, you could get vehement denials in response. Ask questions if you feel comfortable doing so, but always analyze the response carefully.
What Happens after a Layoff?
There are layoff laws out there to protect you as much as they can once you've been laid off. Those laws vary from state to state so do your research to make sure you can make the best of the situation.