Signs Layoffs may be Coming Soon at Your Job


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Layoffs are an inevitable part of the life sciences industry, as it’s filled with companies that rely on outside influence, like investors or regulatory agencies, to stay afloat. 

But as the effects of inflation continue to run rampant, small biotechs and pharma giants alike have been forced to find ways to cut costs. Only one month into 2023, many companies have already announced plans to cull staff, and more seem likely to follow

Signs Layoffs may be Coming Soon

While most companies like to keep cost-cutting measures quiet for as long as possible, there are often ways to tell if leadership is planning to cut staff. Here are the signs to look out for that may indicate layoffs are coming soon at your organization. 

Reduced R&D Expenditure

Investment into in research and development is one of the most sure-fire ways to get a glimpse into a biopharma company’s priorities and future plans. Due to the lengthy nature of the development process, increased investment into R&D shows at least a tentative plan for the future. 

If an organization has reduced investment in one area, that could point to potential layoffs for a specific team. If a company has completely stopped investing in research for new candidates or targets, this may point to a lack of funds overall or a lack of confidence from leadership in the future of the company. 


If a company suddenly begins outsourcing labor to a location other than its primary operations, this could point to an effort to cut labor or manufacturing costs. 

Outsourcing is growing in popularity, even for companies that don’t necessarily need to tighten their belts, according to a 2020 survey of life sciences senior executives published by Accenture.

Of the biopharma and medical device companies surveyed, 91% reported plan to increase their use of contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs), contract packing organizations (CPOs) and contract development manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) over the next three years.

Whatever the motivation behind the decision to outsource, it is often followed by a reduction in staff on the home front. 

Increased M&A Activity

It probably comes as no surprise to many that if a company is involved in a merger or acquisition, layoffs will likely follow. This is often done in an attempt to avoid redundancy and cut costs for the joint or parent company. Layoffs can also come as a result of a shift in strategy or pipeline reorganization. 

In an acquisition, the jobs of those employed by the parent company are often safer than those of employees who work for the company being acquired. In a merger, however, deciding which employees to keep and which to cut is less clear, and the decision will likely be based solely on data and overall team performance, rather than the efforts of each individual. 

Sudden Changes in Upper-Level Management

Though changes in a company’s C-Suite does not mean that layoffs are definitely on the horizon, they could point to the organization’s overall stability and plans for the future. For example, if several members of a C-Suite are suddenly ousted, this could point to a larger, company-wide shift in strategy that could affect lower-level divisions as well. 

In contrast, cutting C-Suite level employees could also mean that the leadership team is prioritizing keeping other jobs safe, as cutting executives’ salaries can leave substantial wiggle room in the budget. 

Decreased Performance

Decreased company performance is the most obvious indicator of whether layoffs are imminent. Keeping a close eye on an organization’s financial reports at the end of every quarter is a good way to stay up-to-date on any potential changes. 

Even so, it’s important to remember that one or two bad quarters do not equal a bad year. Staying vigilant and monitoring all the other potential indicators is the best way to know what’s to come.

And if you do find yourself a victim of layoffs, don't panic. Head to BioSpace's job board to find job postings from some of the top-performing companies in the industry.

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