Recently, a woman went viral on TikTok for sharing how she correctly predicted layoffs at her company months before they happened. She says that execs and managers acting strangely, sudden priority shifts to save money, a hiring freeze, and feedback changes tipped her off.
And in the comments, people shared even more red flags of impending layoffs. Here's what they had to say:
1. "I had an idea that I might be laid off when, about a week before I was canned, I wasn’t invited to a meeting I would have normally attended. When I asked my boss why, he hemmed and hawed and made up some lame excuse. Also, about three weeks before I was laid off, I didn’t have any real work to do so instead I just surfed the net all day. I thought that was odd but convinced myself that it was just an aberration."
2. "I've noticed that rumors of coming layoffs are almost always true. It starts when someone in Finance or HR who is 'in the know' tells a close friend in the company so they're not blindsided. Then that person starts telling their other friends, 'You didn't hear this from me, but...,' and from there it spreads fast. So if you start hearing those rumors, go ahead and get your résumé revised and sent out."
3. "In food service, if they move from in-house made products to cheaper pre-pack products. Not replacing cooks, dishwashers, prep, and instead doubling up responsibilities."
4. "When you get a phone call before your kid's surgery informing you that your insurance plan has lapsed! No warning or anything. My son was due to have ear tubes surgery, and another family had their child in the NICU with heart issues. We had to basically beg the company to find something for us. They had a plan to get set back up with insurance at the end of the month. They managed to find a plan; it was crappy, but it was something, and they got it set up in three days. I'm still paying the hospital for the stuff the insurance didn't cover. The original one was wonderful, but the other was just awful. They ended up lapsing on that policy too, and that's when we went with Cobra till the new year, because the new one was going to be worse. Basically the company didn't pay their payroll vendor."
5. "I worked for a division of a major electronics firm many years ago. I KNEW something was up when they had all the mid-level techs write up every procedure they performed, and even had us build jigs for some things. Sure enough, layoffs. I had a new position before they even did the exit interview. The head office CLOSED that division about six months later because the new people they brought in couldn't do the work the previous staff did."
6. "If they stop providing coffee for the reason of 'cost-cutting,' it's a sign to start polishing your résumé. It's one thing if nobody's drinking it, or the office is being relocated. But removing coffee machines that are in use is a sign that things are going downhill."
7. "When your C-suite executives start to disappear or are all fired at once with no replacements. Hiring freezes and backfill positions are frozen, bad sign. Budget cuts start happening in each department, and they get bigger and bigger."
9. "If you work in retail and someone who works directly for the mall or shopping center your store is in starts coming by regularly — even if they give another reason for coming or seem like they're just socializing. I had a coworker who was convinced the ops director was love with her. In reality, he was trying to catch our owner because she hadn't paid rent."
10. "When they start saying, 'Do more with less.' That's a huge one — they are training people to do more than they're paid for so they can cut jobs."
11. "Red flag: A huge part of the budget comes from one donor. I worked for a nonprofit that had one donor who donated about 20%–25% of the annual budget. He lost ALL his money in the 2008 crash. The org still stands but had annual layoffs for the next five-plus years."
"I once worked for a company with a federal contract, and that was like 95% of the work we got. I started feeling like we were going to lose it and the company was going under. They had some management changes that were big. They were pushing for bigger numbers with less time. The company became toxic to work for. So I found another job and gave my notice on a Monday.
That Wednesday we were all told to stop working as we lost a big portion of our contract, but it was temporary. I told my new boss I could start a week early instead and just cleared out my desk. That temporary stop was permanent, and the company went under."
12. "They try to get all the people who've been working for 15-plus years early retirement. That's what happened at my last job a few months after COVID started."
13. "Sudden same-day mandatory meetings. For one job, in the months leading up to the layoffs, the company introduced a call robot. During the training for this system, one co-worker said, 'I think this is taking our jobs.' A month later, it did."
14. "The cleaning company wasn't coming every night anymore. That was the first big sign."
15. "Before the pandemic, during my annual personnel review, we were going down the list of my tasks, and my managers kept gaslighting me — I did A, B, and C, but only to 'satisfactory' level, not enough for an 'excellent' review. I tried to argue my way out of it, but they just ignored me and kept saying I was doing my tasks but not going 'above and beyond.' When I asked them specifically to give me an example of what 'above and beyond' meant, they just went to the next question."
"At first I thought it was a corporate thing, because everyone with an 'Excellent' review gets a bonus, so they were trying to avoid giving too many out. At the end of the review, they said I had to show more loyalty to the company because 'You never know — if budget cuts come up, guess who gets let go first?' I was killing myself at my job, and this just shattered me. Lo and behold, the pandemic hit and the budget needed to be 'restructured.' Guess who was the ONLY one laid off... They did warn me, I guess 😐."
16. "I knew when I asked my friend who is a recruiter to check on her end. She has special recruiter tools on LinkedIn. She gave me the heads-up that all of the C-level execs were open to work. That’s a very bad sign."
17. "A client from the startup world told me a sign for them is scrambling to get cash on the week of payroll. Sometimes this presents as 'the checks are late.' He told me he always calls in sick if the checks are late because he isn’t working more when he hasn’t been paid for what he has already done. Sometimes the checks never show up, and one day you turn up for work and the doors are locked. Startups fold a lot faster than normal businesses."
—Barbara P., Facebook
18. "A visit from HR (we are a subsidiary) and a coincidental visit from my boss's superior at the exact same time. At the end of a month. In the middle of summer."
19. "If the economy is headed into a recession (read the news, folks), and your team/group doesn't MAKE money in some way, you're at risk. In 2008, heading into the Great Recession, it was VERY clear that my company was going to have layoffs. And since our group 'made things better' but didn't actually 'make revenue,' it was clear we were likely going to be on the chopping block. I wasn't able to finagle a different role for my self in the company, but I was able to move a few people around to help save their jobs. But for the rest of us... Well, at least the severance was good. And most got another job pretty quickly. But of course it isn't always that way."
20. And finally, "Another one: They start suddenly 'restructuring,' i.e., changing roles that have been long established or changing procedures and protocols."
Are there any other layoff red flags that they missed? Share what's tipped you off that cuts were coming at your job in the comments.
Note: Responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.