Other ways to find out if your employer is in trouble

Ask your union what they know. Listen carefully for what is not being said, as well as what is. If you are not receiving a robust assurance that everything is fine, then it probably isn’t fine. If you have even the slightest concern about the health of your organisation, consider joining a union.

All UK companies are registered with Companies House – you can check the latest company accounts or whether any insolvency actions have been registered against a firm for just £1. Here are some of the danger signs to look for on a balance sheet.

You can check the financial health of charities (which include many (but not all) private schools, and other public institutions like museums) on the Charity Commission website.

If you work for a company that is publicly quoted on the stock exchange, look for a web site which has information about stocks and shares, such as Google Finance, or Investors Chronicle. What do they say about how your company is doing? How has it done over the last year compared to the market? You can even set up a weekly alert email to track your employer on the share web sites.

Look up recent headlines about your organisation in the press. What is the press saying about it? What is it saying about your industry?

Set up Google Alerts for your organisation, any parent organisation and the name of its CEO or managing director – this will mail direct to your inbox any news in which these names are mentioned.

Ask for an ‘all clear’. Sometimes organisations fail to make it clear when redundancies are complete, leaving staff looking over their shoulders, and dreading being called in for one-to-one meetings for months afterwards. If it seems as though the redundancies are complete, ask for confirmation so that you (and your colleagues) can breathe out.

It can be scary to look at your own organisation in this way, especially if things look bad, but think of it this way: information is empowerment. Being forewarned if things aren’t terrific means you can be prepared for whatever comes. And, if they are terrific, you can position yourself to take advantage of the good times.

If you are in a large organisation, you may also want to look at the section on assessing the health of your department that’s here assessing the health of your department.