We all know that layoffs are rife worldwide and that the mining industry has been particularly hard hit in recent times in many regions. We also know that few employees are safe, and that there is always a risk of being laid off. There are however some red flags that can signal pending layoffs in your company. It is always best to keep your ear to the ground and avoid being caught off guard.

Apart from the obvious signs that generally include budget cuts, and sharp drops in stocks there are often a fair amount of subtle signs that can indicate your company may be in trouble. If business is slow for a month or two, that may still be okay, but when it suddenly becomes a bad quarter or longer, then you need to know that the company may be getting into trouble. Also remember that even when ones colleagues are being let go, many workers are often surprised when it’s their turn to get laid off. Always remember that you are not immune. If others in your company are losing their jobs, you can too. Workers that contribute directly to revenue may be safer, especially if in a position where they are still making the company money, but even revenue producers will sometimes be let go.

A warning sign that layoffs may be on the cards are when your company suddenly puts a freeze on hiring. This may very well be a sign of the calm before the storm. There may also be a shift in workload, or requests to cross train other employees. Another tell-tale sign is the elimination of perks, such as Christmas parties, team building weekends, etc. Another sign is when there is a sudden reduction in training budgets and expense accounts. Many companies will make a sudden push to conceive and implement cost cutting measures which generally means that the company is struggling, and that layoffs may be imminent.

Things have a way of getting out, and when you hear rumours starting to circulate that there may be layoffs you may want to consider at least dusting off your resume so that you are not caught off guard should you lose your job. Managers will often try to hide the decision to cut their workforce for as long as possible so as not affect the remaining employees moral and risk having there valued staff leaving because they are worried about their future in the company. However these things have a way of getting out, so take heed of rumours when it comes to downsizing. Another sign may be that your manager starts to micro manage, suddenly asking for client lists and projects, or otherwise you notice a change in their attitude towards you. When your manager suddenly asks you to share your client lists, or to train another colleague on your job function, the changes are that you are going to be laid off. If you notice that your manager has suddenly changes their attitude towards you it could also spell trouble, especially if they are not able to look you in the eye, or avoid you. Managers often feel tremendous guilt and a feeling of a responsibility even though they are generally just the messenger in the whole situation, but regardless, they often show outward signs of the burden they are carrying.

Another sign to look out for is when all new projects are stopped. Companies rarely compromise new projects as these are essential parts of corporate growth, so when this happens along with hiring freezes, there is a very good chance that a layoff is looming.

Another sign is when management suddenly becomes a stickler for rules and regulations. When times are good many managers will turn a blind eye to your arriving a few minutes late, or taking an extended lunch hour, or leaving a few minutes early. However when times are bad, management often clamp down on these issues and become far more rigid with rules and regulations.

At the end of the day, layoffs are generally a response to economic factors that are beyond an employer’s control. They are about the company doing whatever it has to in order to survive. Layoffs can be very traumatic, and sadly they happen all the time. According to an article on BBC, in 2012 alone there were nearly 20.6 million layoffs and discharges in the US alone, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics JOLTs report. However if you can be aware of the fact that your job is at risk it may help to lessen the blow when it does happen. It will also give you the opportunity to start making decisions and looking at your various options. It’s always good to have a head start when layoffs are imminent, and it’s important to remember that it’s always easier to find employment before you become unemployed. So stay alert and be aware of what is going on in your workplace at all times.

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