Thursday, November 3, 2011

What are the signs of a pending layoff?

Many people have experienced at least one layoff in their careers.  And in this struggling economy the experience is becoming more common.  Losing a job can be financially and emotionally devastating.  Is there a way to tell when a layoff is coming?  Industry experts say yes.   You just have to know the signs. 

So, what are the signs of an impending layoff?
  • A Google search of your company or organization turns up negative news.  You will see reports such as the company is in financial trouble or that the company has lost profits.
  • You read that the value of the company stocks has declined steeply.  Also along these lines, the executives in your organization are dumping most or all of their shares.
  • Speaking of executives, if they are in a lot of secret meetings it could mean that a layoff is coming.
  • Your organizations has been acquired by another one or is being merged.  These events usually result in duplication of positions.  This is not cost effective so......
  • Your organization begins instituting cost cutting measures.  Routine expenses are cut.  Projects that were planned are put on hold due to budgetary constraints.
  • The organization institutes salary freezes or salary cuts.
  • Your friends in the industry are experiencing layoffs.
Any one of these signs doesn't necessarily mean a layoff is coming.  But if you see several signs that should be a warning.

 Now the previous signs primarily apply to for profit organizations.  However, several of them are indicators of a pending layoff in a non-profit organization.

For example:
  • Your non-profit is instituting salary freezes or cuts.
  • Routine expenses are cut.
  • You hear news that your organization is having financial difficulties.
  • Projects, programs, or initiatives are put on hold.
  • There is news of impropriety by the chief executive officer.
As was stated before, the presence of one of these events isn't necessarily an indicator of a coming layoff.  But if most or all of these signs are present, beware.


If you work in a religious institution, particularly a church, there are three times when you should be alert.

  • The church is having financial challenges.  In this case signs of an impending layoff would be similar to the signs in for profit and non-profit organizations. 
  • The church is having strategic challenges.  The church may be changing its direction or missional focus.  Oftentimes when this happens some positions are eliminated
  • The church is in the midst of a pastoral transition.  The incoming pastor may have different priorities or a different vision for the church.  Current staffing may not fit in with the pastor's vision.  Positions may change or be eliminated to align with the change in direction.

Like it or not, layoffs are a part of our working lives.  Situations, that we have no control over set the stage for a layoff.  All we can do is be alert so that we can be prepared.  So keep those resumes polished.

What other signs of an impending layoff do you know of?

Information for this post was taken from the following articles:

Signs of a pending layoff   Susan P. Joyce

Heads will roll: 17 signs of impending layoffs  Brian Satterfield

Is your job in jeopardy? Impending layoff warning signs 
Randall S. Hansen, Ph. D.

When layoffs loom  John R. Throop

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