Layoffs. It’s a common occurrence in the workplace, and you’ll likely experience or witness it at some point in your career. December and January are the two months when mass layoffs happen most as budgets flip over for the new year, but these layoffs can happen at any time depending on the health of a company. Most recently, eBay reduced its global workforce by a “single-digit percentage” as its online auctions business has slowed.
In cases like eBay’s, it’s not only the dissatisfied and underperforming workers that will be let go. When a company is struggling financially or the economy takes a downturn, even capable workers can lose their jobs. Once a company decides to pursue a mass layoff, signs will appear that this is the case.
When a Mass Layoff Is Imminent
The more signs you see, the more likely that a layoff is coming.
• The company has been failing to hit targets for some time
• Nonessential budgets are reduced or cut
• Teams and offices are streamlined to eliminate redundancies
• Raises and promotions are placed on hold (even pre-approved ones)
• Hiring comes to a freeze
• Scheduled projects are postponed or canceled
• Managers hold closed-door meetings more frequently
• Conference rooms are booked by HR all-day
• The flow of communication and reporting changes
• Senior managers are more agitated or stressed
• Senior managers start to resign
• The company pivots or undergoes a restructuring
• A new leader steps in at the company
• The company is merged or acquired
• A Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) is issued
• Managers begin to hint at impending layoffs
Clues That Point to You Being Cut
• You work on a project that is not generating revenue
• You don’t have close ties to clients or business partners who help generate funds
• Senior management inquires about what you do or you’re asked to write a job description
• You are left out of important meetings and your manager shares less information with you
• Your manager hints at changes you should make to your work or behavior
• Your access to company accounts is denied
• Your hours are reduced (if you’re a nonexempt employee)
If you sense that a layoff is coming, you can take steps to prove that you’re an invaluable and productive member of the company as a final attempt to save your job. What we’d suggest though is to invest more time and energy into updating your resume and reaching out to your network for new opportunities. By the time the layoff signs appear, the company will have an idea of who it plans to cut. By then, it may be too late to change that list.
Those who survive a layoff will often endure a tough transition, overcoming low company morale and increased pressure to perform for the business. For those who don’t make it through a cut: Take some time to think about why you were let go and how things can be changed at your next job. Remember, layoffs are not always due to bad performance so don’t beat yourself up if this is the case for you. The end of your old job is a start of a new adventure. Hopefully, you paid attention to the cues we’ve provided and lined up that new opportunity already.