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In today's uncertain and, well, terrifying economic climate, it's good to think ahead. While we don't want to alarm you, basically your company could go broke at any second and you'll be out on the street. Even worse, it's in their best interest to keep it from you until the very last moment. All you have are the emails that arrive in your inbox, the high-level assistant who loves to gossip and your nose for bullshit.

Here are six warning signs that you might just be on a sinking ship.

6Sudden Company-Wide "Status" Meetings

The Email You'll Get:

"Our Founder and CEO of DoomedCorp would like to bring the DoomedCorp family together to talk about our future. Attendance required."

What's Actually Going On:

No one likes meetings, but they beat the alternative of, you know, working. Unless they're not watching your Internet usage in which case the meeting is just a rude interruption in your porn stream.

Every few months you probably have big meetings where the CEO talks about how bright the company's future is, if we all just work a little harder and keep our eyes on the prize, etc.

But the meeting to get worried about is the sudden, unscheduled, company-wide meeting. There's a good chance they are trying to get ahead of bad news, breaking it to you before you read about it in the papers. Or hear that guy on CNBC screaming about it.

These meetings are all about damage control. Keep an ear open for vagueness ("We here at DoomedCorp are facing some tough times, but I promise you, we'll forge ahead with determination!") and spin ("It seems dark now, but I assure you, there is a new dawn breaking.") It'll probably close with the CEO making a promise to stay with the company as long as it takes.

Time to Go:

Look for more meetings, with increasing frequency, as more bad news rolls in. The company is trying to get ahead of the office grapevine, suppressing rumors so you won't get nervous and quit, hoping you'll stay the course right up until you arrive to find a security guard standing next to a cardboard box filled with the stuff from your cubicle.

Of course, there's also the worst case scenario, which is when the sudden company-wide meeting is held after the bad news hits, because the news was so bad the company couldn't bring itself to say it to your face (like having it turn out the higher ups were robbing the company blind). So we guess another warning sign is if the CEO's speech is interrupted by the cops dragging him out the door.

5Executives Finding New, Exciting Opportunities...Elsewhere

The Email You'll Get:

On Monday:

"Join us in congratulating Ted Stevens, Vice President of Sales, as he's agreed to accept a position with TechCom Solutions, Inc. as their Vice President of Sales Strategy! Let's meet at Chili's to celebrate! This is not a company sponsored event."

The next Tuesday:

"It's with great sadness that I announce the departure of Cathy White, who's chosen to spend more time with her family. It's a difficult decision for Cathy and, while I'm sure you're all surprised, we hope you'll join us in thanking her for all her hard work."

Two weeks later:

"Mark Harker has left us as director of IT. His replacement will be announced shortly."

What's Actually Going On:

Now, people change jobs all the time (you'll likely do it every five years or so). So you can't panic every time some executive leaves for greener pastures. But watch for several bailing out at once.


"See ya!"

Also, did Ted up there leave for a job that seems to be way down the ladder from the one he had here? As if it was a choice between taking that or finding himself on the street because his current job was about to go away?

Also, on his last day, did he smear "SAVE YOURSELVES" on the door to his office in his own feces?

Time to Go:

Did you work directly under the departed executive? Are all of your tasks suddenly getting shifted over to other departments, because his replacement prefers to work with his own people? Has someone on the web posted a form resignation letter for your company?

It may be time to call up Ted and TechCom and see if they've got any openings.

Otherwise, the next thing that will happen is...

4Exciting New Opportunities Find You and Your Co-Workers

The Email You'll Get:

"Hi, everybody, I'm writing with great news. Bob, our former Customer Service Manager, has just been made Comptroller of Customer Management. Don't worry, he'll still be keeping an eye on you CSRs, but he'll also be supervising some other areas Ted was looking over before he transitioned to TechCom. Congratulations Bob!"

What's Actually Going On:

Notice that Bob is doing Ted's work, but didn't get Ted's title? That's because while Bob got some of Ted's responsibilities and they made up a new title for him, he didn't get a promotion or a raise. This kind of reshuffling happens all the time when a place is A) trying to save money and B) having trouble attracting talent to their sinking ship.

You might have noticed Ted's role was pretty vital, being VP of sales and all. What's it tell you that your company can't hire a guy to sell their product?

Time to Go:

When they start losing so much staff that it becomes a game of Office Task Musical Chairs, with you and others constantly taking on new duties, but with not even a new title to show for it. Now might be the time to look into that multilevel marketing operation your neighbor was telling you about.

3You Get a Raise, But No Money

The Email You'll Get:

"Hi, this is Jan from HR. This year, instead of issuing direct pay raises, you'll be receiving a raise in company stock! We're excited to bring you this new opportunity to be a bigger part of the DoomedCorp family!"

What's Actually Going On:

The stock option for the regular employee is a lot of things: an ability for them to invest in the company, a symbol of ownership, a massive tax scam. But the most important thing about the stock option? It's not actual MONEY.

A stock option is just a promise that you'll be able to buy stock in the company at a certain (low) price after a certain number of years, if you want to. Obviously, the idea behind it is that the company's stock will be worth a fortune and these options are a great deal.


Still not money, though.

On the other hand, it's worth asking if you're worth so much and they want to keep you around for so long, why they're not offering you cash, as well. You might also ask yourself why instead of a bonus you just got a t-shirt with the company logo on it.

Time to Go:

The smaller the company, the more paying you in stock options hurts them. After all, the more the shares, the less they're actually worth.

So if you're at a tiny company, and all of a sudden they're throwing around stock options like parade confetti, you probably shouldn't look forward to retiring with that company in your golden years.

2You Have the Opportunity to Meet New and Fascinating People

The Email You'll Get:

"I hope you'll all welcome Jennie Thurber. She's visiting to take a look around for us and offer some perspective to management. Give her any help you can. Thanks!"

What's Actually Going On:

Just as a dead body attracts flies, a dying company collects "off-site visitors" in the form of lawyers, accountants, and auditors. Jennie isn't here to offer feedback on the company's process. She's there to count the computers and furniture for when they're auctioned off to cover DoomedCorp's crushing burden of debt. Hey, tell them about all that valuable porn you've got on the hard drive! They can surely get something out of that.


"So you don't have a single non-pornographic file on your computer?"

Time to Go:

If somebody is touring the facility, asking about the heating system, knocking on the walls, generally getting a good idea of the place, and you've got no idea who they are, well, they're the people that are going to be moving in, once your company leaves its current digs for oblivion.

1Lots of New and Arbitrary Office Rules Turn Up Out of the Blue

The Email You'll Get:

"Hi, everybody. We're implementing a new management strategy, as you've probably heard, and we've got a few revisions to policy that you'll need to review. Be sure to print off the attachment, sign it, and bring it to Jan in HR by the end of the week."

"As part of the new policy, you may no longer..."

(Three full pages of rules follow)

What's Actually Going On:


"No more lights after 2pm."

So suddenly, they're clamping down on everything. You have to shut off your PC at night to save electricity. They've somehow found an even cheaper brand of toilet paper, which appears to be made from pressed corn husks.

But worst of all, is the crackdown on office supplies. That's a sign money is so tight, or vendor invoices have remained unpaid for so long, that they can't afford you using too many of them. Out of working pens? OK, here's one.

Time to Go:

Some of these rules may be so arbitrary that you'll wonder if they're intentionally trying to make your life hell. They've made it basically impossible to do your job and every time you break one of the long lists of arbitrary new rules, you get a written notice stuck in your file.

Friend, you may very well be the target of "constructive discharge." This is when a business wants to get rid of you, but doesn't want to have to pay unemployment. So, they pressure you to quit by making it too annoying to work there.

Please note that in some workplaces constructive discharge is difficult to implement because the harassment so closely resembles normal working conditions.

For other ways the man's trying to keep you down check out 6 Brainwashing Techniques They're Using On You Right Now. Or check out The 6 Most Horrifying Ways Anyone Ever Got Rich.

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