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12 Ways to Know Your Job Is in Trouble

Jun 01, 2009

If you managed to hang on to your job through the last recession then you know that it's a good idea to be on the lookout for signs that your company is struggling to make it in a tough economy. While there isn't very much that you can do about the economy, there are ways of recognizing that your job is in jeopardy. Here are 12 signs of recession in the workplace.

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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.

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