13 signs you might get fired (and how to avoid it)

Updated 8 December 2022

While there are many ways to leave a job, getting fired is not the way most employees anticipate leaving their place of employment. Getting fired implies that an individual is leaving an organisation on poor terms. Sometimes a dismissal can happen suddenly, while on some occasions there can be indications of an imminent sacking. In this article, we discuss reasons why employees get fired and learn about how to look out for and identify any signs that you might get fired.

Related: Best steps to take after getting fired

Signs you might get fired

There are certain things to look out for if you think your employer is considering letting you go. Here are some of the signs you might get fired:

1. You receive a pay cut

There are times when a struggling company has no choice but to reduce salaries to stay afloat. When the company slashes your pay while others receive theirs in full, it can imply imminent dismissal. It is also a sign that they don't value you anymore.

Related: Can you be demoted at work? (And how to deal with it)

2. Superiors no longer acknowledge your accomplishments

To encourage employees to do their best, employers and managers praise them for doing a good job. When others receive praise for their work and you don't, perhaps the company no longer appreciates your efforts. Once employers make it a habit of not recognising your hard work, you may be about to lose your job.

3. Superiors no longer invite you to important meetings

The signs that you might get fired are similar to those of ending any relationship. When the other party starts disassociating themselves from you, it can imply that they no longer want you with them. At the workplace, when you cease to receive emails or notifications of a meeting you used to attend, your exclusion may be intentional. Employers and managers usually invite those who are part of the company's future to group meetings.

4. Your tasks are reduced

Most employees prefer to have less work occasionally to help them rest. You can request fewer tasks when you feel overwhelmed. When the employer or manager suddenly reduces your workload without consulting you first, it can be a sign you might get fired. They may intend to lessen your workload to ensure that you complete every assignment before sacking you.

5. Your superior keeps asking if you are O.K.

Firing someone is not always easy for employers. When employers or superiors have reasons to worry about your mental health, especially if you've had a recent 'episode' or outburst, they may look for a subtle way to fire you. You may notice frequent invitations to your employer's office to ask if you are doing well or struggling in your work. If this persists, a meeting may eventually be called to terminate your appointment.

6. You recently got into trouble

Sometimes, you can almost predict your sacking. When you commit an obvious error with severe consequences for the company, you risk losing your job. For instance, if you are currently under investigation for fraud, misdemeanour or leaking company information, you may lose your job.

7. Work seems to be less intense

The intensity of work can reveal how vital you are to the company. The most productive employees who get the most benefits have greater responsibilities. When work begins to seem strangely easy for you, observe your colleagues. If the quality or difficulty of their tasks remains high while yours dips, you may be on your way out of the company.

8. Your ratings or performance appraisals are constantly dwindling

Performance appraisals or review comments are methods of assessing an employee's performance. Having occasional unpleasant reviews on your performance is not a sufficient reason to worry. When you receive negative appraisals or constant complaints from your superiors about your professionalism, you might eventually get fired.

9. There is a job opening for your position

Companies usually advertise a job opening when a position is vacant. In most cases, the dismissal of an employee or a resignation leaves a position vacant for new people. If management is already looking for someone for your role, they may want to hire someone else in your place.

10. Management keeps rejecting your request for improved benefits

Usually, the employer determines an employee's benefits, including a pay rise, an all-expenses-paid holiday or an official apartment. Employees can also request these benefits if they believe they deserve them due to their decent record, which companies may consider. If management keeps rejecting your request for a pay rise, perhaps the company no longer needs your services. Companies prefer to invest in people they want to associate with long term.

11. Your mistakes don't seem to matter anymore

Part of a superior's job is to ensure that you realise your errors and correct them to improve productivity. It also shows that the company still values your input and supports your growth. When you notice that your superior keeps ignoring your mistakes, especially the obvious ones, it is a sign that they have resolved to replace you with someone else.

12. Superiors ask you to transfer some of your tasks to a colleague

Occasionally asking a colleague to help you complete some of your tasks is normal in a work environment, but when your superiors suddenly ask you to hand over some of your current assignments or projects to colleagues, it can be a worrying sign. Assigning your duties to others without consulting you may imply that they no longer find you competent. If this persists, a letter of dismissal may come next.

13. You deliberately search the Internet for signs you might get fired

The Internet sometimes recommends content you may view out of curiosity. If you intentionally search online for signs that you might get fired, it shows that you worry. Also, when you find out that most of these signs apply to you, you may be close to getting sacked. Before that happens, you can request a meeting or chat with your superior. Have them explain what their expectations of you are and express your willingness to improve in every area.

Related: How to go about finding a new job

What does getting fired mean?

Getting fired means that an employer no longer requires the services of someone they hired. Employers usually state the terms of employment in a pre-employment contract, highlighting the conditions that could lead to a dismissal. A violation of any of these rules is the primary reason for firing an employee. When a company sacks an individual, they lose all rights as a member of the organisation.

Gaining access to the company building becomes restricted or banned, depending on the nature of the dismissal. Also, they lose their means of identification, salary and other benefits. Getting sacked may raise questions from prospective employers who are wary of employing someone with a negative history.

Related: What is severance pay? Plus other FAQs about this pay type

Why do people get fired?

There are countless reasons why people get fired. In most cases, the employer reveals them verbally or in an official letter. Knowing why you may get fired can help you save your job. Avoiding the following common reasons employers terminate an employee can help you remain in your job for the long term.

  • Misconduct: While employees have the freedom to make decisions, organisations have rules that guide how their employees conduct themselves on and off duty. Some areas where an employee can err are indecent dressing, fraud, harassment and sexual assault.

  • Incompetence: Employers expect a certain level of skill and professionalism from the staff. When employees fail to meet organisational standards in terms of productivity, they can ultimately lose their jobs.

  • Habitual lateness: Employers take punctuality seriously and encourage their employees to manage their time judiciously. Although occasional lateness is pardonable, employers strongly disapprove of chronic lateness and can fire an employee with a record of persistent absence from work.

  • Damage to company property: Companies sometimes acquire sophisticated, expensive or innovative equipment to boost productivity and develop employees' abilities. Causing intentional damage to any company property can result in employment termination and being sued for damages.

  • Insubordination: Some employees play a vital role in an organisation, from forming brilliant ideas to maintaining an impressive record of productivity. When employees, no matter how important they are to the organisation, begin to disrespect, argue and undermine the authority of superiors, they can get fired.

  • Inappropriate or unauthorised use of company property: such use can cause problems for an employee, especially when damage occurs in the process. From throwing parties on company premises to borrowing official vehicles without permission, unauthorised actions can lead to dismissal.

  • Reckless use of social media: Many have lost their jobs due to inappropriate use of social media in their spare time. Companies have rules on how their staff use the Internet; inappropriate behaviour, reckless endorsements and unfiltered use of language on social media that causes a scandal may result in dismissal.

Related: Why it's important to treat people with respect at work

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