While uncertainty and unknown have become the new normal in the age of COVID-19, it’s arguably felt the most when it comes to employment and job availability. As thousands of people across the country have filed for unemployment, it’s only natural to feel a slight unease given everything going on.
Even if you’ve been fortunate enough to remain employed and working from home throughout the pandemic, worrying about being laid off is a completely valid feeling given everything that’s going on. That said, you shouldn’t let your anxiety get the best of you.
If you’re worried about being laid off, be sure to look for multiple warning signs before allowing yourself to get paranoid. No single factor necessarily suggests layoffs are coming but if multiple signs from the list below do sound familiar, you may want to start asking questions or looking for a plan B.
Here, we’ve asked HR experts and career coaches for the most glaring red flags that may suggest layoffs are coming to your company.
Senior leadership talks about a new vision.
According to Amy Sanchez, executive career coach and CEO of Swim Against the Current, if you listen closely to senior leadership, you’ll notice they’ll start talking about change that is coming to the organization. “In well-managed organizations, this vision is communicated at least six months in advance of the change,” explains Sanchez, “Then you’ll notice a lot of closed-door conversations that follow. This usually means a reorganization/layoffs are coming.”
There’s a merger or acquisition about to happen.
Sanchez also suggests looking out for a new acquisition on the horizon. “Anytime there’s a mixture of two different organizations, there are redundancies that must be eliminated which means, you guessed it, layoffs.”
The company is consistently not meeting earnings goals.
“There’s only two ways to address this predicament,” says Sanchez. “Either find a new way to add to profits or decrease expenses. If a company chooses to decrease expenses, that usually means layoffs or furloughs.”
The company has brought in a management consulting team.
No management consulting team comes in and declares that the company is doing all the right things- they’re brought in to help address a critical problem. “Sometimes, the recommendation involves layoffs,” explains Sanchez.
There’s a new freeze on hiring, bonuses, and/or salary increases.
“If you’re informed that there will be no new hires or bonuses paid out for the foreseeable future, this may be an indication that your company is currently experiencing cash flow problems,” explains financial advisor Schimri Yoyo.
Reduction or elimination of benefits.
If your employer decides to stop matching contributions to your retirement plan or eliminates your employer-sponsored term life insurance, they are in cost-cutting mode. “It may be only a matter of time until a reduction of staff members is the next step to reduce expenses,” adds Yoyo.
You have too much down time.
Notice yourself filling your hours with online shopping or social media? “If the normal hustle and bustle of keyboards clacking, phones ringing, and copy machines buzzing has quieted to barely audible hum, it may mean that your employer is failing to attract new business or is refusing to take on new business because they are preparing to shut down operations,” says Yoyo.
Rotating management team, holes at top.
According to Lori Scherwin, executive coach and the Founder of NYC-based Strategize That, if you see lots of changes at the top (think C suite force outs by the board) start to wonder. “Also look for middle management executives leaving in droves as they might have a purview to what’s coming,” says Scherwin.
Bad behavior is en vogue.
“If your manager gets annoyed more than usual, if you sense skittishness and frustration and elevated levels of toxic behavior, it might be a sign that they are nervous about performance and upcoming restructuring and taking it out on the team,” explains Scherwin. While this is not appropriate, being stressed out and worried about the future is human nature and shouldn’t be taken personally (unless it continues well into the future).