All too often redundancy comes as more of a surprise than it should be because you don't have your eyes wide open.
Is fight or flight the answer? Is it even possible to fight? The answer depends on your exact situation
What are those signs?
There are signs that employees are the walking dead in their workplace. These can include:
■ Tell-tale body language: Often your colleagues or managers stop making eye contact, says career consultant Lee Brodie of Career Dynamic.
■ You're left out of meetings: You may have been side-lined from important meetings whilst the rest of the team is involved.
■ Your name is removed from email lists. You no longer receive emails that might have come your way in the past, says Brodie.
■Others are given the best projects. Have your projects been given to others in the team or you've been overlooked for a promotion/new project that you'd die for?
■ There are behind closed doors meetings happening. This doesn't mean that you're job's on the line, but combined with other factors it may be.
■ The organisation is in trouble. The company/organisation is being sold, merged, or downsized. Is there talk of sales being down, or the need to meet targets?
■ You're being micromanaged. If your manager is breathing down your neck, micromanaging you and nit picking, then watch out. Maybe your opinion doesn't carry weight any more or is simply ignored. A new boss might want to clear the decks and start afresh with his or her own team.
■ Bad review time. If you've had a bad review this could indicate that your boss doesn't like your performance. Did you miss out on a pay rise when you expected one to come your way, or have had others promoted over you?
■ Others start behaving awkwardly around you. Your colleagues or boss start avoiding you and you can feel the tension in the room when you're with others. Maybe your desk has been moved into a corner. Has your boss become vague or evasive?
■ The blame game is alive and well. Do you feel that no matter what you do your colleagues or boss always find fault with what you're doing?
■ Has personal development dried up? Another sign of your job being on the line is when training and personal development opportunities dry up. Organisations aren't going to pay good money to develop staff that they'd rather show the door to.
A two-way street
Brodie says that despite being obvious, many employees choose to ignore the signs.
If your face doesn't fit then it's likely that you are probably not giving total engagement or energy. Many employees are mortified when they realise how lowly they rate on that scale. "Not only are they at risk (of losing their jobs), they do not enjoy their job," she says.
Clients sometimes arrive really angry and stressed and may be distracted by life. By the end of their sessions they realise it's time to take control of their career, says Brodie. Some choose to fill gaps in their employability and move on. It's hardest for clients who are in denial.
Often the best thing to do for your career if your star is waning at work, is look for a new job, says Brodie. "Once people have disengaged from you and you have disengaged from them how do you come back? Unless you have a skillset or knowledge (in high demand) it is pretty rare to come back."
Taking your complaint further.
The other option if your job is on the chopping block is fighting back. That can mean fighting to save your job, says Brodie.
Once your face doesn't fit in an organisation it's almost impossible to swim against the tide, she says. You could, however, try to negotiate a longer exit with the employer. She has seen young lawyers planning their OE negotiate with the employer to work out three months' notice, or to finish a particular project.
Or you can negotiate your resignation in return for an exit package with your employer, a trend that Whitehead is seeing more of. "In my view this is a fair and equitable way to go about removing an employee from the workplace. It generally ends up in a negotiation."
The other way to fight is to take a personal grievance claim, says Max Whitehead of Whitehead Group Employment Solutions.
Where employers try to bully or force an employee out by using unjust means, there may be grounds for such a claim, says Whitehead.
The most common claims are unjustified dismissal and unjustified disadvantage, adds lawyer Jessie Lapthorne, a partner at Duncan Cotterill.
"A dismissal can be unjustified because the reason relied on is not sufficiently serious to justify termination or is not genuine, or where the process followed is unfair and unreasonable," says Lapthorne.
Which legal tribunals do you go through?
Employment related claims are normally heard in the Employment Relations Authority in the first instance, she says.
Before a claim can proceed to the Employment Relations Authority though, the parties to the claim will almost always need to have attended facilitated mediation through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, to attempt to resolve matters. A high proportion of employment disputes are resolved through this process, she says.
If either party is not satisfied with the decision in the Employment Relations Authority they can escalate it to the Employment Court and even to the Court of Appeal, and after that, the Supreme Court.
For a constructive dismissal claim to be successful you need to prove that your employer has followed the course of conduct with the deliberate and dominant purpose of coercing you to resign, says Whitehead.
"The courts have set a very high threshold of evidence that is required to prove this type of constructive dismissal." Whitehead says as many as 80 per cent of all cases alleging constructive dismissal fail because such a high level of evidence is required.