We may be heading toward a recession in 2023, and layoffs in the news are concerning. How do you know if your company will be next? Should you work harder to prove that you’re a valuable employee, or start job searching right away?
“Right now, you want to be cautious. But you also have a good shot at keeping your job. So stay in it,” advises Allison Hemmings, CEO of The Hired Guns, a recruiting company. It’s important to stay focused on making an impact at the office and making sure that you and your boss are in line with what looks good for your individual role, says Hemmings.
Knowing the signs of a layoff at your company is the first step to reducing job stress in this uncertain economic climate.
[READ: How to Survive a Layoff.]
Are Widespread Job Layoffs Coming in 2023?
Cuts and layoffs in the tech industry and other industries have been in the news recently, with well-known companies such as Google and Meta reducing their workforces by the thousands. However, the unemployment rate, at 3.4%, is at its lowest point in decades. In January, more than 128,000 jobs were added in the leisure and hospitality industry, which is also the fastest-growing industry, according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics. Other industries are seeing gains as well, such as the health care and business services industries.
Experts are still monitoring inflation levels and whether the U.S. will have a “soft landing” when it comes to a recession, as well as how it will impact the job market in 2023. It’s good to be flexible and aware of the signs if a layoff is about to happen to you.
Who Usually Gets Laid Off First and When?
Newer employees that have been in their role up to a year tend to get laid off first, according to a 2022 study by LinkedIn and Business Insider. In some cases, recruiters and higher earners are let go, and millennials are disproportionately represented when it comes to layoffs.
Upper management may also adjust the business plan, and layoffs will then reflect the new priorities of the company, according to the career website Dice. There may be a greater focus on projects that generate revenue, rather than nonessential projects. Those with redundant, outdated or surplus skill sets might be more likely to be laid off, according to Dice.
Layoffs can occur at any time. But as far as when layoffs most often occur, January and December are months well-known for job losses. Employers are reviewing their budgets during that time of year.
[See: How to Quit a Job.]
Here are some ways to find out if your company really is preparing for layoffs.
1. Employees Who Leave Don’t Get Replaced
Involuntary attrition means a company may have decided to eliminate the position altogether after an employee leaves, according to Investopedia. This leads to a smaller, streamlined workforce.
2. Hiring and Spending Freezes
Companies try to start saving money in big ways, reducing costs where they can. Remember, though, that companies can also go through periods of “belt-tightening” too.
3. New Projects Get Put Off for Later
This may mean budgets are shrinking for projects that aren’t needed or that do not directly translate into revenue.
4. A Company Merger or Acquisition Is on the Way
Two companies may combine strengths and profitability, but it may also lead to removing employees with duplicate skill sets.
5. Executives Are Exiting the Company
At higher levels, it’s easier to see the financial direction of a company. Executives may notice and leave before things collapse.
6. There Have Been Previous Layoffs
If a company is laying off employees with some regularity, it may mean that things aren’t financially stable in the long term.
But also keep in mind that previous or current layoffs aren’t always a red flag. “It’s easy to get paralyzed. … A lot of times, I hear from clients right when layoffs get announced at their companies.” says Hemmings. “Many companies will have layoffs and be hiring simultaneously.”
7. Company Restructuring
At times, companies reorganize themselves. But in other cases, this is a way for a company to look ahead and see if they can shed any unnecessary job roles.
8. Reduced Attention to Research and Development
A company willing to invest in a healthy R&D plan is thinking about the future, according to BioSpace. Cutting costs in this area may be a sign that nonessential roles are also going to the wayside.
9. Decreases in Company Performance
A company that is not doing well over very long periods of time is bringing in less revenue and may need to rethink its business plan.
10. Outsourcing Labor
This may be an effort to cut costs, rather than focus on local employees. Restructuring and reorganizing are other ways for employers to shed in-house roles.
[See: Sites That Help You Find Legit Remote Jobs]
11. A WARN Act Is Circulated
A Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act notice is usually posted in a workplace in advance of permanent closures or large-scale layoffs. This is a sure sign that layoffs are coming. Employees who do not receive 60 days of written notice that there will be layoffs may seek damages and back pay from their employers, according to the Department of Labor.
WARN protects workers in companies with more than 100 employees, and employees also need to be working at the company longer than six months.
12. An Emergency Meeting Has Been Scheduled
When an email or calendar invite suddenly arrives with a message about an urgent companywide meeting, this may mean that management is ready to communicate about major staff changes.
13. Bringing in Outside Consultants
The consultants may be hired to review company performance and assess how things may be restructured, including which employees are redundant.
How Do You Know if Your Own Job Is in Jeopardy?
Your manager suddenly becomes very involved. If a manager suddenly asks you to “write your own job description,” then they may be considering firing you, according to career resources site LiveCareer. This also goes for a boss who usually is a micromanager but suddenly becomes distant, advises Hemmings. A boss who is unavailable to talk about the future of your role should raise some concerns.
Your workload shrinks. If you’re losing assignments and there’s been no effort to fix the problem, that may be another sign that you’re not needed, according to LiveCareer.
You’re being left out of meetings. You should ask to be included if it keeps happening. But no longer being looped in on meetings, emails and other communications may be a sign that you are no longer considered an essential part of the team.
Advice for Weathering Layoffs
Understanding whether your company or industry is doing well can help take the pressure off before you make big career decisions that may not be necessary.
Hemmings also advises that Google alerts can help you stay up to date on career news. Regular alerts in your email inbox will help you understand how your company or the industry you’re in is really doing. This is true even if you do hear of layoffs close to home, because different industries are handling layoffs in different ways. Tech companies like Google, for instance, have had layoffs but are still hiring for some critical roles.
If you stay on top of the news, you can respond to any changes early, which is a clear advantage, says Hemmings. “You might be able to move before the rest of the pack does if you’re feeling concerned about your job.”
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13 Signs You May Be Facing a Layoff originally appeared on usnews.com
Update 02/24/23: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.