- By Rose Kennedy For the AJC
While there's something to be said for the "nose to the grindstone, ignore the gossips" approach at work, there is one time you want to avoid that strategy: when your company is about to go bust.
Few places, whether they're large businesses or tiny mom and pops, are eager to share the news that they might be going under. So it's up to you, the employee, to shake off any denial and watch for the signs you might be working somewhere that's going out of business. While you don't want to be paranoid, companies do close, even in a robust economy. With a little advanced warning, you'll be prepared to deal with the fallout and have better odds of finding new work.
Key managers and executives are finding new opportunities somewhere else.
Of course, you can't panic every time some executive leaves for greener pastures, but you should watch for several executives bailing at once, according to the list of "6 Emails You Get When Your Company Is About to Go Under" on Cracked.com. Assess whether any of them are leaving for jobs way down the ladder from their current positions, which could indicate they didn't have a choice.
Perks are eliminated for the rank and file.
Beware a formerly friendly and generous workplace that starts having fewer parties and happy hours, cheaper coffee or snacks in the employee kitchen or gets stingy with impromptu company holidays or expense account lunches. These could all be signs that the end is nigh, according to Business Insider's Rachel Gillett.
The communication flow alters
Some of the signs that point to an eminent round of layoffs can also indicate your company is in its last days. One of them is that communications that used to be passed along verbally or in person now arrive via email or hard copy memo, Jim Link, managing director of human resources for the staffing and recruiting firm Randstad, told Monster Worldwide Inc.
Vendors start making noise about not getting paid
This is a sign to look for at smaller companies, where cash flow can change the situation much more quickly, according to Monster. Keep in touch with purchasing agents and accountants at the company to nose out what's really going on with cash flow and whether the company is nearing the end.
Good people leave (and not-good people stay)
When you see the real leaders and innovators at a company exiting, it's a good indicator that the rot has started to set in, according to digital transformation expert Tim Miller on the LinkedIn blog. Miller recommended this exercise for employees trying to evaluate whether their company is on the brink of failing: "Grab a blank piece of paper and write down every rubbish 'leader' or manager you can think of. If you are still writing after 3 minutes, then your company has a problem."
The business completely rebrands or updates its vision statement.
"A great business might update a logo or two, but if you are ever called into all employee-wide sessions where the 'New' vision of the company is rammed down your throat, your business is on the rocks," Miller added.
Doors are now closed for meetings.
When every day seems to bring more highly secretive executive meetings, the company is probably in trouble, Valerie Streif, senior advisor at the job search firm The Mentat, told Time. If the secretive meetings are coupled with vague responses when you ask what's going on behind closed doors, you should take this signal even more seriously.
Work flow slows to a crawl.
If you've noticed no one cares that you're on Facebook, YouTube or Twitter most of the day, your company may be going bust, Alex Twersky, cofounder and VP at Resume Deli, told Time. Any time there is less work going on, from fewer emails in the inbox to fewer meetings on the calendar, your company could be facing trouble.
The press on your company is all bad.
"No company can win every news cycle," Dele Lowman Smith, founder and CEO of the Atlanta-based Bold Move Consulting, told Time. "But an onslaught of negative coverage, or even a steady drip, can be a harbinger of bad things to come."
How do you save yourself on a sinking ship?
Once you've accepted that the company is doomed, you should step up your efforts to make sure you don't go down with the ship, according to Time.
Before you make tracks out of there, the publication recommended taking these steps:
"The sooner the better," Donna Lubrano, adjunct faculty at Northeastern University's College of Professional Studies, told Time. "Companies often don't announce their troubles in advance - it's a strategy that prevents mass exodus. Get ahead of the curve."