Layoff becomes a topic of discussion during an economic slowdown or unprecedented events like a pandemic, but it’s a regular occurrence. In the United States alone, nearly 2 million people are laid off by their employers every month. Hence, it is likely that anyone can face layoffs at some point in their work life.
But does that mean you need to be caught off guard?
Not necessarily. Disruptions like COVID-19 are rare, and often there are many signs of layoffs that can be noticed ahead of time. Awareness of these signs is essential for your career growth as it helps you prepare for the worst.
Here are the common warning signs of oncoming layoffs that you must read without fail.
1. Cost cutting
The most common warning sign of an upcoming layoff is spending and hiring freezes. If you find your company putting promotions on hold or rescinding previously available posts, they need to be visible on the internal job board. It can be an indication of an implemented hiring freeze. Companies must hire talent regularly to remain relevant and hide from the competition. If for some reason, your organization has put a hold on promotions and hires, it might be planning for layoffs.
A financial crisis can also trigger employment termination. If that’s the case, on a smaller level, you will witness that office supplies haven’t been replenished in months or that your company can no longer sustain free snacks – clear signs of cost cutting
Of course, these signs are insufficient to deduce that the company will lay off employees, but it’s better to err on caution. It is often noticed that if there are budgetary problems, layoffs can come as soon as within three months.
2. Senior managers are leaving
Senior managers are some of the first few of the top management to know about upcoming layoffs. If you find that senior managers are abruptly leaving the company, it can signify layoffs. As people at the higher levels are frequently aware of what’s happening behind the scenes, they are the first to go when things look bad.
Another indicator of downsizing or shutdown can be frequent discussions about restructuring during meetings. The meetings are often about projects, customers, and deliverables. However, if they are more about outsourcing, reengineering, cutbacks, and similar terminologies, your company might need to be more stable. Staying relevant is essential for job security, but if you or your department can no longer add value to the organization, you will most likely be restructured. Simply put, you are at the most risk of being laid off.
3. Your organization hires external consultants
At larger organizations, reducing the number of senior managers is often accompanied by hiring external consultants. The first signs of layoffs occur several months before the actual event occurs. While most talks about the event occur behind closed doors, a tell-tale sign can be the hiring of external consultants, especially if they hire consultants to deal with process optimization, improvement, and business redesign.
These people were made responsible for deciding how many employees could be laid off without the company falling apart. Planning and executing layoffs is difficult, and most internal HR teams must prepare to handle such transactions. This is why consultancy services exist, offering workforce management and optimization. If you find your organization taking service from the one, it can signify impending layoffs.
4. Jobs are being phased out
Technology is an excellent tool for employees on the job. It makes them productive and improves their efficiency. However, it can also replace them in some scenarios leading to mass layoffs. A recent example is when Amazon India began mass layoffs stating ‘some roles are no longer required.’ It is a decision that was driven by the advancement in technology.
As technology progresses in several industries, companies are heavily investing in tools that can streamline the work processes without the need for additional resources such as more employees. With the adoption of these changes, some roles start losing responsibilities until such a time that they become redundant.
If your organization’s jobs are being phased out, it might be a sign of layoffs coming. It is why upskilling is extremely important for professional growth. The development of technology today poses an extreme risk to manual, repetitive, and labor-intensive jobs.
There is no benefit in being anxious about impending layoffs; instead, your focus should be on controlling your career trajectory. Start upskilling and look for opportunities before the fallout.
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