In our unstable economic times, there are few employees who feel absolutely sure their job will still be here tomorrow.
But it's not productive to be distracted by needless worry every
day. So how do we know when to relax and when to worry (and start
polishing up that resume?)
Pay attention to true warning signals, but don't get too caught
up in office gossip. It can lead to low morale. Just keep your eyes
open for these signs that your job may be on its way to the downsize
1. There are rumors of layoffs
Here's an obvious one. Generally, when there are rumblings
about layoffs, it is going to happen. Who, what, when and how are the
only questions. Ask trustworthy people around the office. Although if
they are trustworthy, they probably won't be spilling secrets!
Google your company. You may find related news articles,
editorials or blogs written by business experts or even former
employees airing some dirty laundry!
2. Company stock continues to plummet
A quarter or two of weak earnings is to be expected here and
there. Listen closely at company meetings to hear the explanations for
the earnings drop. Some drops are actually anticipated and written into
the overall financial picture.
And companies frequently recover after their stock has taken a
nosedive. Look at the stock history and read what the analysts are
projecting for a truer picture of what to expect in the future.
3. Your workload has decreased
If your boss is reassigning your projects or giving you less
to do, be concerned. It’s even worse if he tells you he is shifting your
responsibilities to tasks more suited to you, and these tasks end up
being very minor.
If you are being asked to train others (especially lower-paid
employees) to do what you do, either someone else will have your job
soon or your responsibilities are being parceled out to several people
and your position is becoming obsolete.
4. Your last review contained nary a rave
If there was nothing positive in your recent performance
review, hopefully at the time you immediately worked on remedying the
situation by asking for specific suggestions to improve and taking on
more work or training to show the boss you mean business.
If you received no merit increase and no words of praise... and you did nothing about it...well, consider this a warning.
5. Decreased benefits and other cost-cutting measures
If you’ve noticed a general decline in benefits like medical
insurance, 401K plans, and even company picnics and holiday parties,
chances are there are other, bigger changes afoot.
Similarly, if general cuts are being made across the company, to
things like travel budgets, expense accounts, even office supplies, be
prepared for much larger cuts.
6. New boss, shuffled management
Although it doesn't necessarily indicate anything bad, a
shuffling of management positions or getting a new boss are definitely
things that could point to a layoff down the line.
Pay attention to the reasons behind the reorganization and
figure out where your position fits in the scheme of things. On the
7. Are you getting the cold shoulder?
If you are suddenly out of the loop -- either not invited to
meetings or ignored when you are present -- you, or at least your job,
could be headed for obsolescence.
Similarly, if co-workers suddenly avoid you or stop talking to
you about future projects, they may know something is up and feel too
uncomfortable to be around you.
8. Rumors of a merger or acquisition are flying
Many times when a company is bought by or merged with another organization, pink slips are bound to fly.
The reason? Most companies, as big as they may get due to the
new situation, just don’t need double the amount of IT, HR, Sales, and
other recently compounded staff.
9. Moving trucks are lurking around the corner
You would hope that by the time moving trucks show up, employees are already aware of impending layoffs.
If not, now's the time to worry. Piles of moving boxes or an
increased presence of security guards are also good signs change is in
10. HR employees are suddenly busy or nervous
The human resources department tends to be more busy than
usual during reorganizations and downsizing. And it's not the usual,
Planning to let go the same people you hired is not a welcomed
task. And the work that goes into it is time-consuming and delicate.
Good rule of thumb, secretive, unhappy HR is a bad omen.
11. Company starts outsourcing and "offshoring"
If you notice your company is starting to "dabble" in hiring
overseas workers, especially if the employees do what you do, it could
be time to worry.
Companies rarely will commit to hiring an entire department off
shore, but once they start the process, if it goes well and saves them
money, there's not much to keep the expensive employees stateside.
12. Machines are doing your job
Let's not be naive. If you are an elevator operator, a
typesetter or a lamp lighter, you must know you're living on borrowed
Other jobs that are still alive but gasping for breath include
telephone switchboard operators, bank tellers, store greeters and
Basically, if technology has made you a middle man, your days
are numbered. However, the smaller your town, the more time you
probably have before machines take over.
Heed the warning signals but don’t panic
You don't need to be driven to distraction worrying that you'll be getting the ax any minute. Just be sure you continue to network, even when you are happily employed.
Stay up to date with current trends and training and keep your resume polished and current. If you do that, and pay attention to these warning signals, you won't be caught off guard and without options should your job become obsolete.