When layoff is in the air


Most companies go through corporate restructuring for a myriad of reasons; whether it is to change organisational structure for efficiency or modify its operations and capital structure to reduce costs.

Unfortunately, corporate restructuring often involves layoffs and job cuts, and can be a difficult transitional period for both employer and employee.

Recently in Malawi, some organisations have announced layoffs. Although employees do not have control over layoffs, there is still something that they can do.


Indeed, the people who survive these layoffs are the ones who can spot the signs beforehand and see that layoffs are coming.

But what are the signs that you are at risk of being laid off? It is never a good sign when your company begins to put all financial exchanges under a microscope and require approvals from higher-ups.

For instance, when expense accounts are being scrutinised, when there are new procedures being implemented for securing purchase orders, and when more approvals are implemented to tap petty cash for unquestioned expenses in the past, you must be very afraid.


The next sign is when the company is going through a merger or acquisition. The terms ‘merger’ and ‘acquisition’ have blended and have been used together frequently. A merger is a process that involves two separate corporate entities combining to form a joint organisation.

Meanwhile, an acquisition occurs when an entity takes over another. A merger and an acquisition may be positive for the company, but it may also have negative effects on employees. It might mean that there will be downsizing and redundant staff will be laid off.

The other sign is when the company implemented a hiring freeze. If there is a sudden halt in hiring new employees in your company, it may be a sign that your company is struggling with financial losses and needs to cut costs to reduce operating expenses.

Another sign that there may be layoffs in your company is when higher-ups themselves are resigning. These people at the top have a much clearer view of what is likely to happen in the company, so if executives are leaving, it may be a sign that lower-level employees should watch their backs.

When your company is laying off people from other departments is another sign! Companies are more likely to lay off people in ‘segments’.

If a fraction in one or two departments is laid off, soon it could spread to other departments. Be vigilant towards the end of the fiscal quarter when most layoffs occur.

The other sign is when new products or expansions are being postponed. In prosperous times, businesses are awash with initiatives for growth. In leaner times, they hunker down and return to basics by focusing on what is guaranteed to bring in revenue now, rather than looking to the future.

All of these are signs that job cuts are imminent in your company. The best thing you can do is prepare yourself for the inevitable. Handle yourself professionally and remember that it is nothing personal.

Go back to your resume and update it as soon as possible. You want it to be ready to go as soon as you need it. While you are at it, update your social media accounts as well.

Start your job search now. If a layoff feels inevitable, then start applying for new jobs while you are still working. Interviewees who are employed are more appealing to prospective employers than those without jobs.

Layoffs are a fact of life. Most people get laid off at some point, so it is nothing to be ashamed of. But at least, now you can start to notice the signs that a layoff is coming and prepare yourself to bounce back as best as you can.

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