Date: 2008
Author: Daniel A. Lublin
Publication: Metro
Employers are becoming increasingly adept at covering their bases when dismissing employees.  But with no legal entitlement to continued employment, no one is indispensable.  Canadian employees may have little certainty these days – and less job security.
Here are some signs that you are about to be fired that I have gleaned from my clients in the workplace trenches:

  • Your performance is scrutinized.  Although your employer need not build a case for incompetence to dismiss you, many try to do it anyway, whether the motivation is sinister, or simply a device to measure dissatisfaction with your work.
  • Having turned on you already, your employer’s constructive feedback becomes scarce.  Once the decision has been made, employers have less incentive to correct deficiencies in your work and in some cases – more of an incentive to reveal them.
  • If you handle client accounts, these clients will slowly be introduced to other representatives at the firm.  If you are only in the short-term plans, your employer will pass your work to others while you are still there, to make its transition easier after you have left.
  • Your work no longer merits praise but rather you are criticized for errors, however small, that were not previously remarked on.
  • If your employer assumes, even incorrectly, that you are about to defect to a competitor, expect a swift response.  Your computer will be monitored, or your access to the company server restricted.  Watch closely as technological “moats” are established.  If you do not contact your clients shortly after you leave, you will learn from them that someone else has.
  • You experience differential treatment on financial terms.  Incentives, such as bonuses, are the most identifiable and among the most contentious issues.  With your departure in sight, your employer is disinclined to reward you – but it does not mean it can avoid doing so.  Consider whether a contract defines your entitlement, your historical earnings and whether other employees received their bonus after you left.
  • If you share an assistant, he or she will gravitate to other employees.
  • Memos will arrive with comments where you were previously given instructions or feedback orally.  Follow-up memos confirming your conversations will also be sent.
  • Your job becomes less defined.  Assignments are more menial, shorter term and, ironically, easier to complete.  If this persists, you may be constructively dismissed, although my advice to employees is usually to try to persevere rather than to act prematurely and risk being viewed as resigning voluntarily.
  • You find your current job posted online, hopefully while looking for another one.
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