Signs your employer is planning a mass layoff event

I’m nervous about COVID-19’s effects on business what are the signs my employer is planning a mass layoff?

There are quite a few signs to be on the look out for these days regarding your employers stability to provide a paycheck and benefits too you in exchange for your hard work and loyalty. Especially as companies react to unforeseen financial disruption from the fallout of the COVID-19 Coronavirus. Depending on how open your  management is you may become broadsided by the news of a mass layoff event, even if you are lucky enough to keep your job.

Company communications

Company communicates needs for urgent cost cutting, expense freezing, or other cost savings plans.

Sometimes the “sudden loss of key account” which depending on the size of the account, this can break companies. There are small automotive part suppliers that have more than 50% of their business on one vehicle program, and when that program ends, so does the work and the need for the workers. Often the lifespan of a vehicle platform is 5 to 6 years.

Salary and office changes

Supervisor, or manager now has their calendar private as opposed to public shared before.

What is happening? Likely management meetings about who to keep and let go, Human Resources training to let managers know how to legally “lay off employees”.

Job openings are not being filled

Fact is most companies try to save jobs through “attrition” which is closing prior openings and not filling these vacancies. This is sometimes seen more profoundly when a high performing peer quits, and the work load is shoved off to you, or the rest of the department affected.

Management or executive rank turn over.

Some companies happen to have relatively strong board of director lead companies, who may ask for the resignation of key “C level” leadership.

Employer took government bail out package with sun setting provisions for employment

The COVID-19 Pandemic saw quickly rushed through employment business loans called Paycheck Protection Program or PPP. The original terms of the PPP were showing a loan forgiveness if the majority of the loan funds were used to retain workers and pay them their paychecks. Well this term to retain workers originally expired in July 2020, and was subsequently expanded to December 2020, the expectation is that employers will likely cut or reduce their employee headcounts as soon as they can while retaining any remaining balance of the PPP money.

Other programs like Michigan’s Work Share program have limitations on accepting replacement funds to your workforce by not reducing headcounts while the employer participates in this program. In affect what could happen is that before the layoff “freeze” takes affect an employer will cut any additional people they think they can spare without on payroll, then enact the government headcount freeze.

Sudden responsibility changes or promotions

This is the scariest one that we’ve seen play out. An employer once suddenly promoted some engineering types to supervisor and management roles, only a handful of weeks later have these folks lay off their old colleagues who now reported to the new managers. The new managers then walked their report-to employees out the door never be seen again. When they returned to the conference room of doom to their management then demoted them back to basic engineers. The sick logic of this is that managers do not like to fire people, or have “blood on their hands” so they were able to spread the pain around.

Manufacturing and Plant floor changes

Shift changes

Did you work 5 days a week, and now work 4 ten hour shifts and no plant equipment operates Friday though Sunday? Did you previously have ample chances to work overtime, and now it is strictly forbidden?

Equipment now has customer names, and potential machine production output rate specifications on it.

What is happening you might ask? Employer could be for sale to investors, or bank is shopping your employer to someone to recoup their investment and stop the bleeding.

Your work area now has more visitors, with people in suits, or dressed in a way that isn’t reflective of manufacturing work.

What is happening is that your employer and management is shopping the operation to potential buyers.

New office furniture

Office furniture often is spruced up, or “refurbished” to clean up an office to present to potential buyers

This is a real warning if the employer typically never invests into the business willingly, what happens in better times of business cycles is that employers will buy new office furniture, refurbish cubical farm fabrics, and generally spruce up the lobby and office space for potential suitors to see how well the business is run. It also has the ability to slightly raise moral so the workers look happy with their new surroundings.