As inflation continues to rise, so does the fear of recession, with some experts saying we’re in a recession already. The result has been widespread layoffs across companies, but especially tech companies. On Nov. 9, Meta laid off 13% of its workforce, or more than 11,000 people. Elon Musk’s new position as Twitter CEO also led to the layoff of about 3,700 employees on Nov. 4.
If you’re scared of layoffs, you’re not the only one. GOBankingRates asked members of the business community to share their experiences and get their input about telltale signs of upcoming layoffs, all to help workers be better prepared should layoffs hit their companies. Read on for their advice.
Things Feel, and Look, Different
Subtle changes can occur in the workplace that could hint at layoffs to come. Or, the clues can be obvious and bold. Damian Birkel, a nationally certified career counselor, author and founder of Professionals in Transition, offered a list of items that could signal layoffs.
- Offsite or weekend meetings with managers and directors.
- Employees being asked to track and compile a weekly report that spells out the length of time it took them to complete each task or project.
- A supervisor reaches out to your direct reports instead of working through you.
- Conference rooms are booked for a day with no clear reason.
- Boxes show up outside of cubicles and offices.
- Security is ramped up at the workplace.
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Senior Managers Leave…
In many cases, senior managers departing the company foreshadows layoffs.
“People at higher levels frequently know what’s really going on behind the scenes, so they are often the first to go when things start to look bad. If you notice this, layoffs are almost certainly on the way,” said Andriy Bogdanov, the CEO and co-founder of Online Divorce.
“The second indicator is if there has been a lot of discussion about restructuring during meetings. Outsourcing, cutbacks, reengineering and similar terms are also noteworthy. If you or your department no longer add value to the organization, you or your department will most likely be restructured.”
…And Consultants Enter
“If you’re experiencing poor communication, or notice that several external consultants have been hired, it may indicate that an infrastructural redesign is on the cards,” said David Marshall, the founder of Performio, which offers sales performance management software for businesses. “This could spell redundancy for your role. Usually, external consultants are hired to guide a smooth transition, and to ensure that the right amount of employees are relieved of their duties.”
Jobs Start To Be Phased Out
Technology is a terrific tool for employees on the job, but it also can replace them, leading to a diminishing workforce and layoffs.
“As technology continues to progress, companies are investing in automation and tools to streamline their work processes,” said Stephen Light, the co-owner of Nolah Mattress. “After implementing these changes, some roles start losing responsibilities until such a time that they are no longer needed.
“Although technology is an excellent growth driver, it also poses an extreme risk to repetitive, manual and labor-intensive jobs. In this scenario, technology slowly replaces these jobs and keeping the employees is no longer a feasible option for the company. As such, companies lay them off.”
The Company Loses, or Doesn’t Make Enough, Money
Layoffs can hit both established and new companies if their financial situation falters. Profit and loss statements and annual reports for publicly traded corporations will give employees an inkling about a company’s financial position. And even if your company is making money, it might not be making enough to satisfy shareholders.
Although the coronavirus pandemic sent businesses topsy turvy in 2020, 45 of the 50 most valuable publicly traded U.S. companies made a profit, according to The Washington Post. Within those companies, at least 27 of them laid off a combined total of more than 100,ooo workers, The Post said.
Employees Have Fewer Responsibilities…
If you find yourself with less to do in the day, that could indicate a pending layoff, said Susan Peppercorn, an executive career coach.
“If you find that your most essential tasks are being reassigned to a colleague or you’ve been given someone to assist you when you haven’t asked for help, that’s an indication that planning may be underway to move your work to someone else,” she said.
You might not have anyone to talk to about the situation if your go-to person is among the managers to leave the company.
“The question you always have to ask yourself is, ‘Who is willing to advocate for me?’ If there have been management changes and your internal sponsor or supporter has left, you may be at risk.”
…And Are Kept Out of the Loop
“If suddenly you’re not invited to meetings that you previously attended and no longer receive copies of sensitive documents, that’s a warning sign,” Peppercorn said. “If you’re also iced out of the informal communication loop and can no longer get a straight answer when (the boss) asks others for updates, these too are red flags that you’ve fallen out of favor and that your job may be at risk.”
You See Your Job Advertised
Yes, this actually happens. A batch of employees will get laid off and replaced, eventually, by workers who sometimes earn less money.
“Sometime last year I had to write job descriptions for a few positions we had to fill — at least I thought so,” said Artiom Pucinskij, now the founder of EsportsLounge, an esports news platform for gamers. “We had an agency handling our recruitment process. Few weeks later, I received a notification followed by a message from that same agency asking if I’m interested in my role. I was still working there, doing that role.
“Essentially they contacted me to take my own position. Needless to say, that the job description I wrote was for my own position, and the agency screwed up and tried hiring me for my job. After, I spoke to my managers and they told me about the upcoming layoffs. I quit that day.”
Mergers and Acquisitions
A company merger could spell doom for jobs as companies seek to eliminate positions that could be considered overlapping or redundant. That happened in October 2020 when Charles Schwab laid off 1,000 employees after acquiring TD Ameritrade, CNN reported. That represented about 3% of the combined workforce. The merger of telecom giants Spring and T-Mobile has resulted in 5,000 lost jobs, according to Light Reading, an industry trade publication.
Before a Layoff, Take This Advice
If you have seen the signs and fear you could be laid off, take steps while you still have access to your workplace to prepare for your next job, as well as for what’s ahead, Birkel said. His suggestions:
- Gather examples of your best work and take them home.
- Request a copy of the latest employee handbook from human resources and pore over the section on layoffs so that you will know what to expect.
- Print a copy of the latest company employee phone list so you can contact people you might need to contact.
- Be sure you have your company performance reviews to help as you update your resume. Also print any saved emails that compliment your performance.
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