When an employee is working hard, has been with a company for years or has a high management position, they often have no clue that they are about to lose their job. However, there are several signals that are either purposefully or inadvertently sent by superiors that will tell an employee, you’re about to lose your job.
Here are seven subtle signs that you could lose your job. These signs need to be taken in context. Any one of them could happen to any employee, but if several are happening to a single employee over a period of a few weeks, it is more than likely they should either improve their performance or find another job.
1. Keep an eye on the boss. Employees should watch for significant changes in the behavior of their supervisor’s decision-making actions. If their supervisor used to ask for the employee’s opinion and input on crucial matters, but has stopped doing so, it could be a clue that the employee is being phased out. The employee may be left out of critical decisions and meetings and is no longer being invited to conferences.
2. The job is being learned by others. If an employee is all of a sudden being micro-managed, or there is another employee who is particularly interested in the details of the job, it could mean they may be taking over soon. They need to get up to speed in order to take over when the time comes. A simple question about an employee’s work is not worrisome, but if a colleague sits with an employee for hours to understand everything they do, it’s not a good sign.
3. Written critical feedback may be just part of the job, but if the amount has increased in the past few weeks, it may mean a record is being made of the employee’s shortcomings. This could be required before the supervisor fires the employee. If an employee has regularly gotten good performance reviews and suddenly gets a bad review, it is a clue that they may be losing their job. The opposite may also be true. If minor infractions are overlooked, which have been issues in the past such not finishing work on time or arriving late to the office, it may mean the management doesn’t want to take the time or effort to correct the employee because they will soon be redundant.
4. Check the company’s financials. If the company is in significant financial trouble, it will most likely look to human resources to cut spending. Staffing may be 70 – 80 percent of their costs. Another sign is the benefits change. The company may stop matching 401-k contributions or paying for health insurance. Office parties may stop and perks such as flowers for a birthday. One way an employee can possibly avoid losing their job is to acquire a diverse set of skills and take up as many roles in the company as can be efficiently done. In this instance, several employees may be considered for firing, and the more likeable and enthusiastic will be kept.
5. If the supervisor or boss asks an employee for any key documents that are related to the employee’s job such as contracts or application materials, it may be because they don’t have the required documents and need to ask for them from the employee. This sign is almost a guarantee the employee will lose their job soon.
6. Subtle hints that the work isn’t up to standard may reach the employee directly from a supervisor or through office gossip. Either way, it doesn’t look good for the employee keeping their job. They may be treated with contempt, receive quiet hostility, get snubbed or have a colleague or boss who is an enemy. Their password may stop working. This is because if an employee is going to be let go, the company will not want them to have access to sensitive information. The supervisor may offer a flimsy excuse to the employee such as they are experiencing computer issues at the moment.
7. If the boss starts ignoring an employee, it’s not a good sign. The employee may want to meet the boss, but he or she is always unavailable. They don’t answer emails or messages and ignore or rarely answer questions. This is usually because they have decided when to give the employee the bad news and don’t want to let it slip earlier. They may be waiting for a project to finish or for the next pay period to end.
If the employee sees the signs and chooses neither to improve his or her work, nor to approach the boss and sincerely ask if there is anything they can do to keep their job, they have only themselves to blame when the ax comes.
By Andre Bradley