Cases of companies downsizing their workforce are on the increase. The news of Ekiti State University (EKSU) sacking over 1000 staff hit the internet with a strong wave and made it obvious that no job is secure in this country.
Job loss is a constant thing that happens to nearly every employee in the corporate world. A lot of people have experienced it several times that they no longer see it as a big deal. But for many, it is a new experience and the effect is uneasy to handle.
People could lose their jobs for several reasons. Some do because they lack required skills or paper qualifications. For others, it could be because of their fallouts with their employers. And then, there are those that leave because the company couldn’t afford to keep them.
Whatever the reason is, it is still good that you find out the danger signs that signal imminent job loss. Knowing these will not stop you from losing your job, but will prepare you to absorb the shock that comes with it and will also give you the required cue to seek other sources of income.
Below are some of the signs that will make you realise that it’s time to move on:
Change in your superiors’ attitudes towards you. It depends on who these superiors are. If they are employees like you, they may suddenly become kind and apologetic or simply turn harsh and nasty. Company owners usually become snobbish and aloof (so you don’t beg them when the letter lands). Whatever it is, immediately you noticed any kind of attitude changes from your superiors, keep your ears on the ground, something is about to happen.
Hushed rumours from colleagues. If you come into your office and meet your colleagues gathered as they discuss in hushed tones, it may be nothing. But if they disperse immediately they sight you without letting you in on the subject of discussion, start making arrangements for another job. It is either you are about to get something bigger, or you are about to be shown the door. Of course, it is your office; you may have an idea of what is being discussed if you had outstanding issues to settle.
Difficulty with maintaining eye contact. One thing I’ve learnt from my years in the corporate world is that bosses have problems maintaining eye contact with people they are about to suspend, sack or report to higher authorities. So, if your boss for no reason couldn’t keep an eye contact while talking to you, start submitting your applications and CVs to other companies.
Rumours about downsizing. Even if it is not true, once rumours about impending sack of workers filters into the grapevine, don’t wait to see if it will happen before you prepare yourself. If you get a better offer within this period, take it.
Queries coming at the slightest provocation. If your boss starts throwing queries at you for minor mistakes and oversights, then it is a danger sign. Don’t be deceived that he is trying to make you sit up because he can comfortably do that by calling you into his office. Believe me, those queries are just a reason to kick you out at the slightest opportunity. So, leave before he finds that chance.
Complaints surpassing compliments. When your employer does not acknowledge your hard work but blows your mistakes out of proportion, trust me, you won’t last there. Either he is a sadist, or he doesn’t want you there. Either way, you won’t be happy in the job.
Number of unpaid salaries increases. Whether the company is making a profit or not, so long as your salary stops coming, or comes in alternate months, you have to leave. If the company is making a profit, then know it that the boss wants you to sack yourself. On the other hand, if the company isn’t making profit, well, you will still be asked to go (unless you want to do volunteer work). This also applies to those whose salaries were slashed.
Change in the nature of assignment. Sometimes, the easiest way to sack people is to make them feel worthless. In this case, the employer either gives you tasks that are too high for you (so that you will fail) or the ones that are too low (as a sign of demotion). If you fail in your task, it will read against you; if you complain about the type of assignment given to you, you will be asked to leave.
Recruitment of a trainee. Recruitment of new members of staff is a sign of company growth. But when your boss starts giving you attitudes or you received rumours about downsizing, or any other sign that threatens your job, recruitment of new staff becomes a threat. This is most indicative if the newly recruited was sent to your department. Believe me, that person is there to learn the job from you before you are ditched. As you train this new person, make arrangements for yourself.
Delayed promotions. Be it for punitive measures or not, delayed or denied promotion(s) is always a sign. It is safer if the delay is general, that is, everyone in the office wasn’t promoted within that period. But, if you were the only one being delayed or denied (or there are few of you), well, you know the rest. This also applies to those of you whose junior colleagues were placed in higher positions that make you answerable to them.
Note that a lot of people in this situation (especially civil servants) patiently wait for things to turn around for the better. But then, there is nothing wrong with you preparing yourself for the worst.
Sudden changes in company policies. As funny as this might sound, some bosses change company policies in a way that makes it unsuitable for the workers they wish to get rid of. A good example here is the policies laid down by some companies on maternity leave. This policy makes it impossible for newly employed female staff to go on maternity leaves, as well as discourages the employment of pregnant women. So, either the affected women leave their jobs or they face dismissal once they give birth. The best alternative they have here is to ensure they don’t get pregnant so they can keep their jobs (I seriously hope these women will come out to speak against this policy).
Constant dismissal of other employees. If the company continues to remove old workers and bring in new ones, you need to go on time. If you noticed your colleagues are leaving in large numbers, follow them. If the company sacked a lot of staff in one sitting without a good reason, even if your name isn’t on the list, join the exodus. Don’t wait for your own list.
Above all, don’t give your employer the reason to sack you. In as much as you are not going to be there forever, do the much you can to keep your job because you have bills to pay. And, please, find something by the side that will keep you going in case the sack comes like a thief in the night.