As much as Managers try to be professional and keep layoffs confidential, there are 10 signs a layoff is impending:
Debby Carreau MBA CHRP
1. New projects are cancelled
One early sign of potential layoffs is the cancellation or postponing of major projects. Examples of these types of projects that may be cancelled are: Major system implementations, Leadership development initiatives and moving, expanding or renovating office space.
2. Discussions about future events are vague
If you ask your supervisor specifics about a future event such as a company event, upcoming client meeting agenda or your role in a future event the answer will likely be vague or non-committal.
3. There is a hiring freeze
In an attempt to avoid layoffs, many organizations will implement a hiring freeze in advance of any layoffs. If your organization has implemented a hiring freeze, layoffs may be the next step.
4. You’re asked to share your files, projects or client lists
A tell-tale sign you are going to be laid off is being asked to share your files, and update another team member on all of your projects. If you are asked for passwords, client lists and contact information this is further evidence the organization is preparing to have someone backfill your position. Some organizations attempt to mask their actions by implementing a “disaster recovery” policy stating every position must have another person to fill their role.
5. Your boss and senior management can’t look you in the eye
If you have seen the movie Up in the Air, most managers are not like George Clooney who travels around the world firing people without concern for the individuals losing their livelihood. Managers will often find laying off their team members very stressful and will avoid contact, when at all possible, with the person being laid off. This behaviour often extends to anyone who knows details about impending layoffs such as senior executives and Human Resources. Whether people are feeling bad or no longer feel as though their time is best spent with people who will no longer be with the organization their behaviour will likely be a key indicator.
6. There are rumours of impending layoffs
Secrets are hard to keep in an office. There are often rumours about layoffs before the event. To prepare for layoffs often many stakeholders need to be informed which leads to breaches in confidentiality…inevitably someone usually slips up and tells someone else.
7. Your workload decreases
Rarely to today’s economy of hyper- are productivity workers faced with decreasing workloads. If you find yourself with no new projects, especially solo ones, there is a chance you are being phased out.
8. Bringing in Consultants
Often consultants are hired to turn around business performance or streamline efficiencies. Sometimes their recommendations are replacing you or outsourcing your work.
9. Your boss asks you about your future plans.
As counter intuitive as it may sound, a sudden interest in your future plans may be a sign you are about to be laid off. Although it may sound cold, it is much less expensive for an organization to have you resign instead of having to lay you off. If you indicate you are thinking of leaving or retiring this may encourage the organization to wait for, or even worse encourage, your resignation so they may not have to pay out severance or pay in lieu of notice.
10. You are invited to a meeting out of the office or early morning.
If you suspect you are going to be laid off, it is not usually a good sign if you are called to a meeting at a local coffee shop or to a meeting before other staff is around. Although this is a better way to be laid off not having to face your colleagues immediately, it is all too often a sign of your layoff meeting.