If you’re on LinkedIn any day of the week, you’ve probably seen a post from someone who was laid off, maybe even that day. Since the COVID-19 pandemic laid off nearly 20 million American workers, people are much more open about being laid off, something that once was too shameful to publicly disclose. Now people share their layoff news immediately after they receive their notice and add an “Open to Work” banner on their profile picture. This is great news for the American workforce because it brings sunlight to something previously in the dark.
Perhaps you’ve never been in an organization that was preparing for layoffs. Maybe you have, but it was 20 years ago. Or perhaps your Spidey sense in tingling. Wherever your personal experience stands, there are a few common signs that layoffs may be coming to your organization. They are:
Decreased profits or revenue
If your company is experiencing financial difficulties or a drop in profits or revenue, it may be a sign that layoffs are on the horizon. It’s completely normal for organizations to have changes in revenue or profitability, but if a large amount of stress and / or frenzied attempts at making quick cash arise, it can be a sign that cash flow problems are happening or on the horizon.
Restructuring or reorganization
If your company is undergoing restructuring or reorganization, it may be a sign that layoffs are coming. Restructuring can be positive, leading to promotions and new opportunities, but it can also lead to duplicative departments and individuals.
Changes in leadership
If there are changes in leadership, such as a new CEO or management team, it may be a sign that the new leaders are planning to make changes to the workforce. This could be anything from new leaders bringing in their own people from previous organizations or their network to changes in priorities.
If your company has instituted a hiring freeze, it may be a sign that layoffs are coming. Particularly worrisome is when organizations can’t replace outgoing workers, as opposed to when they can’t create new positions for growing business needs.
If you notice that your coworkers seem more stressed or worried than usual, it may be a sign that layoffs are coming. I’ve personally never seen layoffs come to a happy, well resourced, well treated organization.
Changes in company culture
If you notice changes in company culture, such as a shift towards cost-cutting measures or a focus on short-term goals, particularly when these changes violate previously stated company values or norms, it may be a sign that layoffs are coming.
Changes in company communication
If you notice a decrease in communication from management or a lack of transparency, it may be a sign that layoffs are coming. Most people are pretty bad at maintaining the facade that what you’re currently working on matters so they reduce their time with you.
It’s important to remember that these signs do not necessarily mean that layoffs are coming, but they may be indicators that you should be prepared for the possibility. One or two signs? It’s probably not worth being concerned about. Three or four? That’s definitely more concerning, and I would definitely have my eyes open about the possibility of impending layoffs. 5 or more? I would say they’re imminent, and you should read this blog post on how to prepare.
The fact that you’re reading this means you’re concerned, and even if you make it through this round of layoffs, the next one, or all of them, very few organizations weather layoffs and remain a pleasant place to work. Definitely consider your own mental health in how you choose to respond being in this kind of environment. You can read this blog post about how to survive being one of the last ones standing.