Signs of layoffs can be difficult to spot, but there are often early signs that can give you a heads up that your job may be in jeopardy.
Company layoffs usually happen for one of three reasons: either the company is doing poorly and needs to cut costs, the company is doing well and needs to streamline its operations, or in this current case, the economic downturn necessitates they reduce their expenses.
In either case, it’s usually not a reflection of a worker’s individual performance, which means there’s little you can do to prevent the inevitable. The people who land on their feet, though, are the ones who can spot the signs that layoffs are coming.
So, how can you tell if your job might be in jeopardy? Check out some clues that a pink slip may have your name on it in the near future—and what you can do to keep your career moving forward.
If you’re noticing any of these signs at your company, it may be time to start looking for a new job:
- Your company is making big changes, such as a merger or acquisition.
- Your department is being restructured or downsized.
- You’re being asked to do more with less.
- Your company is making cuts in other areas, such as marketing or research and development.
- You’re hearing rumors about layoffs.
Of course, these aren’t the only signs that layoffs may be coming to your company. If you’re feeling uneasy at work, it’s always a good idea to start looking for new opportunities—just in case.
Below is a list of signs that may indicate layoffs are coming to your company.
Signs of Layoffs
Cost-cutting is a huge priority for companies during an economic recession and one of the first places they look to save money is by reducing their workforce. If you work in a company that has been hit hard by the current economic conditions, then it’s time to start paying attention to the signs that layoffs may be coming.
How Do You Know When a Layoff is Coming?
Unfortunately, there’s no surefire way to know for certain if your job is going to be cut. However, there are some signs that you can watch out for that may give you a heads up that layoffs are coming.
Here are some signs that layoffs are coming to your company:
- Executive team, especially when the CEO steps down with no clear replacement
- Company founder(s) are no longer involved in day-to-day operations
- Your department or team has a new manager who is bringing in their own people
- The Head of HR leaves the company
- Middle management (Senior Director, Director, Senior Manager, etc.) starts to disappear
- Your company is experiencing financial difficulties and is cutting costs wherever possible
- You have noticed that there are fewer resources available, such as a smaller budget for your department
- You hear rumors that the company is not doing well and may be forced to downsize
- Stock prices for publicly traded companies have been plummeting
- You are being asked to take a pay cut
- Your hours have been reduced
- Your sales team has been let go
- Your marketing team has been let go
- Your company starts to offer voluntary severance packages
- Office closure or moving to a smaller office
- You notice that there are fewer people in the office and more desks are empty.
- The mood in the office has changed from optimistic to pessimistic
- People are talking about looking for new jobs more than usual
- There is an increase in the number of people working from home
- There is an increase in the number of people taking sick days
- There is an increase in the number of people taking vacation days
- The office noise level has decreased significantly
- People are leaving work earlier than usual
- Your building or office access card no longer works
- There are more closed-door meetings than usual
- Your supervisor is suddenly much less available to you
- Executives are no longer giving talks to employees
- Increase security in the office
- Moving boxes appear in the office
- There is a decrease in the number of social events, such as holiday parties or summer picnics
- Morale in the company has been low
- Team lunch outings have been canceled
- People are not talking with each other as much as they used to
- The office parking lot is less full than usual
- Office lighting is turned off to save money
- Your company announces that it is undergoing a restructuring and you notice that many people are being let go
- Your department is merged with another and there is an overall reduction in staff
- You are asked to take on additional responsibilities without a corresponding increase in pay
- Your company closes one or more of its locations
- You are suddenly being excluded from important conversations
- You are no longer copied on important emails
- You no longer have responsibility for the projects you were working on. They have been given to other people
- You’ve been assigned as a replacement for someone else
- You are being asked to sign a non-compete clause
- Your position has been eliminated from the company organizational chart
- The company has already laid off some employees and there is a sense of unease among the remaining staff
- You notice that there are more open positions than there are people to fill them
- The company is no longer hiring and has stopped offering new contracts
- Recruiting team has been let go or has left the company
- The company is hiring temps or contractors to do your job
- Your company is outsourcing your work to another country
- You are no longer being given new assignments
- Your performance reviews are suddenly much more critical
- You are receiving less positive feedback from your superiors
- You are being micro-managed more than usual
- An unexpectedly large number of people have quit recently
- An increase in the number of people quietly being escorted out of the office by security
- Your HR schedule a meeting with you and won’t tell you what it’s about
- New people, likely consultants, are working in the office but you don’t know who they are or why they’re there
- Key members of your team (developers, product managers, etc.) have left the company or been let go
Company Reduced Perks and Benefits
- The company has cut back on employee perks and benefits, such as free food or gym memberships
- Your salary has been frozen or you have not received a raise in some time
- The company is no longer providing training or development opportunities
- Free lunch Fridays are no longer a thing
- Free snacks in the kitchen are running low
- Your 401k contributions have been suspended
- You are no longer allowed to work from home
- You are no longer being reimbursed for business expenses
- You are no longer allowed to take vacation days
- Your sick days have been eliminated
- The company is offering early retirement packages
Company Tech Services
- Your email is not working
- You are having difficulty accessing company websites
- There are more IT help desk tickets than usual, which means the IT help desk has to reduce staff
- There are more system outages than usual, they are not being updated as often as before, or they are not being fixed in a timely manner
- The company is no longer providing new laptops or phones, and you are being asked to make do with what you have
- New software implementations are taking longer than expected or are not working as planned
- The office printer is no longer stocked with paper or toner
- Computers in the office are outdated and slow
- You are no longer able to access certain software programs that you need for your job
- The company intranet is being updated less frequently
- Internal emails are vaguer and less informative than usual
- All-company memos are sparse and lack details
- Bad press about the company starts to surface
- Social media posts about the company are increasingly negative
- Slack or communication channels are being used less and less
- Town hall meetings are being canceled or are not well-attended
- Employees are no longer encouraged to share their ideas openly
- Leadership starts referring to the company as “we” instead of “us”
- A lack of communication among the executive team or from senior leadership
- You’re not included in important emails, only to find out from your coworker
Company Marketing or Advertisements
- There are suddenly fewer people in the marketing department
- The company has stopped advertising or promoting itself as much as before
- There are no new projects in the pipeline
- Your team is being asked to do more with fewer resources
- There is a decrease in leads or sales
- The company stops sponsoring events or attending trade shows
- Company LinkedIn profile has not been updated in a while
- Blog posts or articles from the company have decreased in frequency
- The company has stopped attending industry events and conferences
- Social media accounts (Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, etc.) are being updated less frequently or have been removed
If you are noticing any of these signs in your company, it’s important to start preparing for the possibility of a layoff. Update your resume and make sure you are networking with people in your industry. You may also want to start looking for other job opportunities, just in case.
While it’s never fun to think about the possibility of being laid off, it’s always better to be prepared. Pay attention to the signs and take steps to protect your career. With a little planning, you can weather any storm.