Hardly a month passes by before you hear of some one or some people that have lost their jobs mainly due to restructuring by their employers. This information is usually received with alot of negativity and in most cases those analysing tend to blame the employers. I do not blame them for the one sided view because very few have had a chance to employ people in a business and understand the story across the bridge.
When Next Media laid off thirty workers recently, there was uproar allover the industry with many coming up with pedestrian excuses like; growing too fast and poaching staff who were paid too much. Few took time to even read the press release that clearly indicated that the action was a result of engagements across the group on how best to realign the company’s digital strategy to the global digital agenda as demanded by the ongoing technological advancements. Those laid off were considered “Not Digital Ready.”
As someone that has been at both ends of the spectrum, of course I held an opinion that was considered callous. It takes one to run a business operation that guarantees employees a livelihood irrespective of whether money comes in or not to realise how much pressure comes along with that.
It also takes one who understands the need for businesses to continually morph in order to retain market relevance to understand the decision that Next Media took.
Perspective of the Employer
Other than Next Media, there are other organisations undergoing restructuring. Interestingly, some do not stop at laying off staff but end up hiring new ones. This implies that these organisations’ focus is on positioning themselves for the future and hence the need to shed off old skin like a snake.
The broadcasting industry for example has had some neanderthals who have been through all its evolution stages and are no longer as relevant to the Generation Z that forms the majority of its consumers.
Technology has had a mega impact on how businesses are run and this is affecting various industries in real time. The ever increasing ease of connectivity has led to a high adoption of online presence.
Online radios are gaining ground steadily and they are so cheap to setup that all one needs is proper programming, market niche establishment and the adverts start raking in.
Product sales no longer require one to have a large storefront that everyone walks through to make a selection of what they need with most of this going online. This has reduced on the number of retail sales-people that companies need to hire.
Banks are having to restructure their operations in the face of the ever growing alternative transaction options emerging that eliminate the need for human to human interaction.
Online content producers like Bloggers, Vloggers and basic amateurs on platforms like TikTok are giving the traditional media a bloody nose. Imagine the amount you pay for a half page advert in a leading paper like the New Vision being enough for you to run Facebook adverts for over a month with a reach that is customisable.
Information collection for news no longer requires full time employees with many through the use of mobile phones being able to play that role for a meager commission.
What do these changing dynamics imply to the Employee?
Individuals have to lose jobs or re-invent themselves with the changing dynamics in order to stay relevant.
One of the biggest challenges employees have is masked in self entitlement. They are always thinking about their own needs and wants before even those of the organisation. It is common to hear terms like “sagala kumanya‘ implying “I don’t want to know” (I don’t care) when the employer is struggling to clear salaries due to an economic crisis.
A business is like a cow. If you do not take care of it, you will not reap milk or beef to your expectations. A lesson that employees need to learn is that they need to genuinely put in effort to see their employer flourish.
If you are working and your reason for working is solely to earn money to eat food, pay school fees and probably build a house or buy a car, then you are under utilising your potential. You have chosen to Exist and not to Live.
Steven Maraboli once said, “When you are just EXISTING, life happens to you… and you manage; when you are truly LIVING, you happen to life… and you lead.”
J’son M. Lee defines the two terms better by saying, “Existing is going through the motions of life with no zeal and feeling you have no control; living means embracing all that this large world has to offer and not being afraid to take chances. The beauty of living is knowing you can always start over and there’s always a chance for something better.”
When all you care about is to get that pay cheque and meet your societal expectations, you are merely existing and will always end up in the same cycle of being dumped from one job to another. By Living, you purposively determine your journey and even a job lay off will only be a temporary inconvenience or might never occur at all. Start Living.
To survive on a job going forward, employees need to always challenge themselves to create value wherever they are. Many settle for the obvious in their jobs with a very little desire to push the bar higher even at the risk of failure. The truth is that a sound manager will see through your flaccidity. Simply being obedient and ever ready to do what you are told will not guarantee you stay in any progressive entity.
Branding. With the ever growing influence of the internet on our lives, branding is now going beyond merely companies we work for.
There was a time when people that worked for MTN Uganda were always so proud of putting on the company branded clothes, carry bags and bottles all branded with the company and they looked cool. Then when they started falling off the payroll one after the other, they could hardly be identified at a personal level. Many of them simply dissipated into oblivion. There was this very good marketer who made his name as an MTN Marketer and the day he was given marching orders after returning from leave is the last time I ever heard of him. God knows where he is today.
Why should you brand yourself in this day and age? Because of the fact that your sphere of influence is no longer localised to the small confines of a single country or office but globally. Even when opportunities shrink over here, you can get work to do or value to dispense in any part of the world either remotely or not. You can showcase your works actively while at your current job and this information keeps sinking in the minds of the audience you command. That way, you are not merely existing but also living.
Continuous Development. There is always an outpouring of new knowledge in all fields world over. Your goal is to keep enriching yourself with what is new in your field of endeavor. Let’s say you are a researcher with significant experience, it is important that you arm yourself with skills in data collection and analysis software. Today, with the technologies available, you can easily identify data collectors who simply sit in one place and forge respondents hence giving you falsified data. If you do not have knowledge in some of these softwares, you most likely will be rendered redundant.
Understand your level. You have excelled as a salesman for years and earned massively as a result, then you insist on not wanting to be elevated to the role of a Manager because of one reason or another. Wake up before it is too late. You are successfully working yourself out of a job. Think long term and ask yourself what value you still dispense at your current role that you have stagnated in for a decade or more even when it earns you alot.
By the look of things, the situation is not about to change and even when the economic recession ceases, the changing demands of various industries shall continually require the employment scene to change.
Be on Guard, do not let life just happen to you. Live it.
Business & Technology Consultant