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Know It Before You Are Handed The Pink Slip

Aug 17, 2007
"When death cometh calling, it cometh not empty handed, it also brought the pink slip."

I think this is the remark of a person who did not even care to read the signals regarding his impending layoff. Even though I am not suggesting that he doesn't deserve to continue in his job for some reason, we can't forget the body blow that job loss delivers.

Events Leading Up To Layoffs

You can't expect the sequence of events to be long enough for you to notice that something is brewing. The timeframe could be very short or your name could be added to the long list in the case of a mass layoff. However, the situations vary from time to time and from employer to employer. The following indications might be helpful for you to prepare for the worst and your next steps:

1. OVERALL ECONOMIC SITUATION: All depressions, recessions and general downturns have caused lots of job losses regardless of their timing. In gradually slipping economies, the results manifest themselves on the performance of companies. Unfortunately, sudden economic emergencies such as the ones created in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 can't be anticipated.

2. COMPANY LOSING OUT TO THE COMPETITION: This circumstance develops over a time period that can't be missed. If there is no sight of recovery or at least attempts by management to turn things around, you can try to correlate the turn around possibility to your survival. You have enough time to plan in advance in this situation.

3. YOUR COMPANY MERGED WITH ANOTHER ONE: Mergers and acquisitions across all business sectors are causing sleepless nights to employees. It is more or less certain that some will lose their job when this comes through. Especially when you are in a key, decision-making position such as Finance Controller, General Manager etc.

4. ASIAN ECONOMIC DEBACLE: Although still rare, this is considerably gaining some proportion of job loss threat. Multinational corporations which have invested in Asian growing economies took a beating when the countries' economies plunged into darkness in the mid 1990s. The repercussions were then felt here in the form of pink slips.

Internal Indicators You Must Fear

There will be sufficient indications even from within. Silently, employers prepare the ground for your termination. The case will be slightly different in mass layoffs. If you are the lone employee to go, it will not be easy for the employer to do so, especially when the company is healthy.

Your boss creates the ground to prove your inability and inefficiency. This is called stage 1 of pink slip preparation. You are asked to accomplish the impossible. The attempt will be so intense that they want to see you fail in most or all areas. Shirks, frowns and stares take the place of nods, smiles and glances. You are insulted in front of colleagues on what would have been overlooked earlier.

In stage 2, you feel blank, suddenly not having the usual workload at all. The idea here is to build frustration in you when coworkers continue to have a normal workload. You are side stepped in routine meetings and left out of critical company/departmental updates.

Mass Layoffs

In mass layoffs and lockouts, the workload stops, section by section. Staff suddenly goes missing and people get their pink slips in bulk. There could be a sudden increase in activities to finish off the pending work or to safeguard the interests of the employers.

As the company is protecting its interests, you also need to protect yours. Chief among these is remaining employed, or being able to react in enough time to secure alternative employment. It is in your best interest to be alert to possible signs that you could be given the pink slip. Never think that it can't happen to you.
About the Author
Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solution's Six Sigma Online offers online six sigma training and certification classes for lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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