The Great Recession
In the year 2007, the economy of the United States began to dip, with financial institutions, housing markets, real estate, and employment doing a downward spiral that is still affecting the country and the world three years later. The Great Recession, as people call it, put a financial burden on that of the middle to lower class — unemployment still hovers at nearly 10%, with millions of workers without a job or given up the search for finding one.
With such a harsh economic hardship, someone with a job may think they are safe and okay, right? In times past, that may have been true, depending on the company; now however, even someone with a job worries that their time may be up. So many people were broadsided when companies and businesses began to lay off workers or completely shut their doors that they were unprepared; usually, someone would go out and find another job or hang on to the savings from their previous work or get help from their spouse.
But that is, unfortunately, not the case today.
So how does one prepare to face losing a job, especially with a company they have been with for years? What are the signs that you may lose your job?
Signs That You May Lose Your Job
Why would a company fire people that are helping the business? In these economic times, there can be many answers, though they may not truly alleviate the feelings of sadness, frustration, and disappointment that employees feel when they are let go. But can you tell when you're about to put on the chopping block, so to speak? There are signs that you may lose your job, other than the very obvious of actually not doing your job or infractions that you have done.
- Changes in management – When companies or businesses are merged or bought out by other, bigger businesses, this is usually the number one sign that you are about to lose your job. Each business works within their own means and conduct business in their own way. Perhaps your position isn't needed anymore or your responsibilities overlap with another position; perhaps you are one of the 'lower staff' — employees that have been with the company the shortest; maybe the new management wants something different that you or your co-workers no longer offer.
- Pay cuts/reduced hours – While this may go with the above, sometimes a company is just in trouble, period. In the Great Recession, many employees had their pay cut and working hours reduced as their workloads began to shrink. This may not mean that you are about to lose your job. However, if the hours and pay reduce further or there talks on where to go from here, your company — and you — may be in peril.
- Fewer responsibilities – If you are no longer being invited to meetings or crucial information that used to go to you first no longer comes to you, this is a sign. Getting less to do is never good, especially if they go to someone that may be working underneath you.
- Avoidance by co-workers – When the chitchat around the water cooler stops as you arrive or people no longer look you in the eye, something may be wrong. News will travel fast if a change is coming to the office, especially if the change no longer involves you.
What Should You Do?
So you’ve seen the signs listed, as well as some others, and you are now convinced that your job is in jeopardy. First of all, do not panic. The above signs are important to look out for, but don’t jump to conclusions if say, only your pay and hours are reduced. The important thing, now that you have seen the signs that you may lose your job, is to plan on what you will do about them.
The first thing is financial — are you able to go without a job for months? Or years? Our economic crisis has proven that some people were not prepared when their companies went under or when they and thousands of others were given pink slips. Make sure that you have enough within your pocket to live on in the case that you can’t find anything for a while.
The second thing is to get support. Looking for a job is hard enough; looking for one during an economic downturn is probably worse. Let your friends and family know that you are looking and certainly, if they know of places that are hiring, have them tell you. Losing your job is stressful all around, not just financially, but mentally and emotionally. The longer it takes to find one, the more stress you have; it is not uncommon for depression to set in. Talk to someone — friends, family, loved ones. If you get to the point where things look hopeless, seek a professional. Don’t be afraid to seek help.
There is a bright side: many people who were laid off found new careers, either by going back to school or by pursuing hobbies that turned in to businesses. Perhaps you enjoyed writing or website building or computer work – these are all great ways to bring in some extra money. Freelancing has become a lifeline for some people, bringing in extra income, as well as pursuing pastimes that had been once regarded as favorite hobbies. Even the most profitable of businesses had to start somewhere, right? Perhaps being let go was in your favor.
Above all, try not to let being without an office job hurt you too much. With the advancement of computers, cell phones, etc., there are now more opportunities than ever. Maybe this downtime is telling you to go back to school, to pursue that bachelor or masters that you had always wanted; perhaps it is time to sit down with the ideas for that coffee and ice cream shop you had wanted to start.
The times are tough, no doubt, however turning a bad situation into a win-win situation is all the better when you’ve prepared and can think clearly on the matter.