The Company Hired a Consultant
Consultants that are brought in to cut expenses often start with employees. If your company hires a couple of specialists like this, everyone's job could be in jeopardy.
Your Last Performance Assessment Was Bad
A bad performance assessment doesn't necessarily mean that the company is days from folding, but it may mean that your job isn't as secure as someone who received a positive assessment. If you hear words like probation, lay off, and termination at some point during the assessment, you should definitely worry.
Your Workload has Increased
If you're suddenly buried in work that doesn't relate to your job description and you aren't getting additional compensation for it, it's probably a sign your company is in trouble.
Profits Are Down
Management tends to panic when profits are down. Partly because they often get bonuses based on profit and partly because fewer profits make life harder on the whole company. If profits have dipped significantly, companies will look for places and people to cut to offset the drop.
Payroll Is Being Cut
Taking away something that someone already has is bad for morale. If your company has resorted to slashing pay with reckless abandon, you can almost guarantee that the organization is in deep trouble.
A Pay Freeze is Underway
Pay freezes aren't as bad a pay cuts, but they aren't much better. A pay freeze almost always signifies that the company is in a precarious position.
The Company Established a Hiring Freeze
If the company uses the words 'hire freeze,' watch out. What this usually means is that they have no intention of hiring anyone to replace the people that have quit or been let go. It may also mean that the company has plans to drop a bit of dead weight in the near future.
People Are Being Laid Off
Layoffs are never a good sign. However, there is always a chance your company will lay off just a few people so that they can tread water during a tough time. At the same time, layoffs usually occur in waves--it is unlikely that everyone is safe.
The Company Is for Sale
Companies that are on the market or in the process of a merger are unstable at best. New owners always have their own way of doing things. Many also have their own people that they will bring in to replace current employees.
The Big Wigs Are Tight Lipped
Managers love to offer 'state of the company' speeches. If management starts acting like they have suddenly taken a vow of silence when asked about sales, profits, future plans, and the like, it is rather safe to say that something is going on. Silences don't necessarily mean that you'll be canned tomorrow but they should be viewed with some measure of suspicion.
The Office Lease Is Up
If the office lease is about to expire and there are no plans to renew the lease or find a new space to rent, your time is probably limited. If there is no office and no workspace, there's no job.
Your Industry Is in Trouble
Sometimes it is easier to gauge what is going on in an industry than it is to assess a single company. If your entire industry is wavering (like auto industry a few years ago), your job is probably far from safe.