Image of employee getting fired by boss from Shutterstock.
At this point in my working life, I don’t know anyone who hasn’t lost their job – either through layoffs, outsourcing, or being fired. I myself lost a job as part of company-wide layoffs.
Losing your job sucks, there’s no way to sugar coat that. I’ve worked at several companies since my layoff experience and they’ve all gone through job cuts of one variety or another. So while losing your job isn’t completely preventable, there are some warning signs you can look out for to better prepare yourself.
An increase in closed doors
This is probably the most consistent sign I’ve seen that job cuts are looming. If the managers, directors and other office inhabitants suddenly start closing the door to their office a lot more than usual, you should take notice.
An increase in closed doors means an increase in private or sensitive phone calls that are being had. At one job I was in, our Director’s office door went from being completely open 90% of the time to being closed nearly all of the time.
This went on for about three weeks; until a division-wide round of layoffs took place, where the Director had to let four people on our team go. Following that, his door was back to being open the majority of the time.
Of course, this sign is only useful if the management on your team are in offices with doors. If you are in an open space, look for an increase in meetings, especially those booked on floors you’re not on.
Dress code changes amongst management
How your bosses dress can also be a sign of changes to come. If your bosses start wearing more formal attire than they usually do, this may be a sign that they are meeting with senior management. They may be trading in their slacks to something more formal to match the seriousness of the situation.
This happened in my case. I saw an increase in the number of suits and blazers amongst my managers. I thought that perhaps they were interviewing for jobs themselves. Why else would they suddenly be so dressy? I found out why when I learned that my role was being phased out.
This sign may not apply if you work in a very casual environment. In that case, look for behaviour changes in the managers on the team. Are they less chatty with you? Are they unable to maintain eye contact? Are they coming around your desk less often? These could all be signs that your job may be in flux.
Changes in project roles
This is probably the least subtle of the signs. If you are suddenly removed from a project (without being given another), this is likely a good indication that your boss is preparing for your absence.
Changes in project roles can happen slowly. For example, at a meeting, your boss may suggest that your coworker start shadowing you or taking more of the bigger tasks off of your plate.
While these types of changes can seem like a help to you, be weary. Your boss may be making sure the project will continue on smoothly without your involvement.
Managers are always looking to make things more efficient, so getting help on a project you’re on isn’t an immediate concern. When work is taken away without new work being given in its place, you should start to worry.
Lack of commitment on vacation requests
If your boss is dragging their heels on approving your latest vacation request, this can be a big flag that your job may be in danger of being terminated.
If you’ve told your boss that said vacation is one you’ll be spending money on, their lack of approval may be their way of telling you to save your pennies.
It may also be a case of your vacation coinciding with the dates that management has planned to hand out the terminations. You can’t get let go if you’re on vacation!
Job terminations are never done on a whim, regardless of the size of the company. They are planned months in advance so if you’ve asked for time off and your boss is being wishy-washy about it, you may want to hold off on that trip.
You’ve got a gut feeling
If things at work have started to feel a bit odd — maybe your boss isn’t as chatty with you lately or there are rumors that your company is about to be sold — don’t discount that feeling in your gut.
Losing your job sucks, there’s no way to sugar coat that.
I’m a big believer in trusting in your instincts, so if you’re feeling like things are different, don’t brush that aside. If you’re worried that you may be reading too much into things, have a chat with your colleagues, try to get a sense of what they’re thinking about the work environment.
If you’re comfortable approaching your boss, ask them about what you’re feeling. Who knows, they may be feeling the same way.
Things to remember
If any of the above is currently happening in your workplace, it may be time to dust off the resume and start reviewing job posting sites (like this one!).
And remember, even if you do lose your job, it’s not the end of the world.
What do you think about the above? Have you been through a job-loss situation? Let us know in the comments below!