Warning Signs of a Layoff: Part 2

By: Marie Donlon


Does it seem like there has been an increase in the number of people leaving the company lately? This is usually an indication that something is wrong. Worse still is when the mass exodus is with middle and upper management. According to Mike Manoske, a business development manager and recruiter for the staffing and consulting firm Yoh. "When key people leave abruptly at the same time, it's typically because they don't have a lot of confidence in the company," he says.

Job Hunting

Does it seem like everyone in your department is looking for another job except you? Don’t wait another minute to get your own resume out there. This is yet another sign that people are losing faith in the company. If nothing else, it is also an indication of low morale, making any work situation an unpleasant one.

Benefits Slowly Vanish

At first your raise isn’t what it used to be or maybe everyone in the company gets an across-the-board raise at some embarrassingly low percentage. Then other changes start taking place as well. Maybe you lose company-paid holidays from your company holiday calendar (like President’s Day) or maybe your separate accounts for personal, sick and vacation time are now under one umbrella term like “Time Off Bank,” except now that it’s combined, the number of days is not the combination of the three banks, but a number fewer than the three combined. Maybe fewer and fewer items are covered under your insurance plan or, all of a sudden, your company is cutting programs it used to offer its employees (for instance, tuition reimbursement).

Independently, a few changes here and there aren’t that telling, but when it seems like benefits are being cut left and right, this is usually a telltale sign that change is coming. Fast.

Projects Postponed

Imagine that your department has been hard at work on a project for some time now. In fact, all through the planning and initial phases the higher ups seemed to be really excited about it. Yet, you are now receiving word that the project has been “postponed” or “shelved.” When anything that is “new” or “innovative” takes a backseat to products or ideas that have tenure in the company, it is usually a sign that things are uncertain, which explains why management would be so reticent to take a chance on anything new, instead returning their focus to the tried and true.

Downgraded Office

Is your new office space … different … from your old office space? To put it another way: Are you now sitting in a closet staring at two other people instead of out of the spacious, wall-to-wall bank of windows that surrounded your old office? Any time your scenery changes for the worse, its generally not good news.

Inconsistent Workload

Having more work than you can handle one week and then virtually nothing on your desk the next week is another sign that things are iffy.

Other Signs

Some other harbingers of a layoff include:

  • Your work priorities are constantly reorganized by management.

  • Morale is bad.

  • New leadership has been installed (taking the company in an entirely new direction … potentially away from you).

  • Your work is being extra-scrutinized by your boss and other higher ups.

  • Higher ups have started bringing home personal items from their desks.

  • You’ve lost access to accounts or subscriptions have expired without renewal.

  • You’ve been asked to define your duties … again.

  • New timekeeping technology has been introduced.

  • The sudden appearance of tissue boxes in conference rooms (I’m assuming to help with the tears of an unexpected job loss) and empty boxes throughout the building.

  • The presence of security personnel onsite when there isn’t usually a presence, suggesting that someone will need to be escorted off the premises before the workday is through.


Business Insider — 27 Signs Your Company Is About to Conduct Mass Layoffs

Forbes—Ten Unmistakable Signs Your Job Is At Risk

Monster—How to Tell If a Layoff Is Coming