Warning Signs that You’re about to be Laid Off

Firing of employeeFeeling a little paranoid at work lately? You may have a good reason. Not so subtle words and actions may mean you are about to be laid off.

A friend of mine was recently laid off after nearly 15 years with the same company. What is interesting to note is that not only did he have a sense that it might be in the offing (he thought it might occur by the end of summer), over the last few months, he had been toying with the idea of looking for other employment.

Naturally, my question to him was why he hadn’t been looking. His answer was a mix of laziness and complacency. He thought he had time, that it would happen later on in the year or maybe not at all.

While there are many reasons why you might want to look for a new job – such as your current job stresses you out – there are some not so subtle signs that indicate you should start your job search.

Requests for You to Train Someone to Do Your Job…Just in Case

This is what happened to my friend. He was literally the only person in the company who could do his job. Two or three other people could handle parts of his job; however, he was the expert.

He had tried unsuccessfully for years to get others to learn what he did, but they seemed either disinterested or incapable.

However, when he was directed to train someone else the week before he left on vacation, he sensed that there was something more going on than just making sure he had backup while he was out of the office. The day before he left for a week in Alaska, he was given his walking papers.

Now it’s only normal that a company would like to make sure your workload is handled in your absence. It’s only when they suddenly insist for no apparent reason that’s there’s a potential problem.

Your Workload Suddenly Decreases

If assignments are cancelled, given to someone else, or handed to a contractor, you might be able to explain it away as an opportunity to get out from under the heavy workload you carry. However, you also may want to look at your job performance.

When organizations go through mergers, acquisitions, restructurings, or reorganizations, they often eliminate duplicate positions. However, many companies also find this a convenient time to rid themselves of workers who are performing below expectations. Before your job is eliminated, improve your performance and improve your chances of hanging onto your job.

Additionally, better performers are more likely to be offered comparable or better positions when there are mergers or company acquisitions.

Rumors and Secrets in the Hallway

You know the saying, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not after you?” If you begin to notice clandestine conversations at the water cooler that seem to stop when you enter the room, consider what you may have done or said lately that might get you on the short list when there is a reduction in workforce.

Whispers behind your back, being left out of the loop, and other instances of secret telling generally have a reason. Perhaps your boss recently left and the two of you were extremely tight. If your boss didn’t leave of his own free will, you may be next.

In the ABC News article, “Your Boss Was Fired…Now What?” writer Michelle Goodman offers some good advice to hang onto your job – such as digging in and making things works – if your boss suddenly disappears overnight.

The difficulty about layoffs is that they are reflective of the economy and generally not something you have done. Companies eliminate jobs, reorganize the flow of work, and merge with other organizations as a matter of doing business.

However, if you’re a keeper, the company will try harder to find a new assignment or retain you in some capacity. So make it tough for them to let you go.

On the other hand, if your job is caught up in the wave, there isn’t much you can do. That’s why it is important to know the warning signs, so you can take action before you’re laid off.