Knowledge is Power

My people perish from lack of knowledge….. Hosea 4:6

This is a Biblical verse from the Old Testament that is very relevant to all employees even during these times. Employees have in the past rightfully complained about the kind of injustices that their employers take them through at their places of work. These kinds of things continue happening because of very may factors, among them the ignorance on the part of the employees. Kindly take note that this article is not aimed at attacking any employee or employer, neither is it aimed at creating an uprising, but it is important that you take some responsibility for your life.

I wish to emphasize on this, there are very good employers out here who go to great lengths to take care of their employees and treat them as assets and human beings. We must also acknowledge that there are very wicked employers, supported by very incompetent HR practitioners. A combination of this is a recipe for disaster. Employers are able to successfully take advantage of their employees because they know that these employees are not aware of the difference between rights and privileges. When recently someone informed me that female employee of a certain company had delivered her baby via CS and a month later, she as required back to work, I was in shock. I’m still not sure what could have been so urgent at work that a new mum, nursing a new baby and a serious wound would be the only person that could attend to.

It is the duty of each employee to keep themselves abreast of all and any employment law that affects them. It is okay as an employee to tell your employer, ‘hey, I understand the decision you’ve made on this matter, but its not the legal thing to do.’ There have been instances where employees have raised questions about issues of concern and the response has been ‘….it’s company policy‘. Having company policies is great, very important. However, company policies do not supersede the employment laws or the constitution. A policy is useless to an organization if it is not formed within the legal framework. If your policy says, ‘…female employees are entitled to two months maternity leave……‘, that’s already a problem, no matter how much you try to justify it.

When you proceed to sign your employment contract though you have seen a questionable clause hidden in there, you are failing yourself. It is okay to ask questions. Whenever an employee tells me, ‘I know my rights’, I pay attention and that’s because I want to be sure that we are on the same page. Unfortunately, sometimes these ‘rights’ turn out to be uninformed. It is the duty of your HRM to advise you on employment issues but it is also within your ability to verify these pieces of advise you are receiving especially if you have doubts.

Don’t just sit there, do something! There are so many resources available that you can be able to read from. The internet is flooded with material, is a great place to begin. There are books that you can teach yourself with. You may ask experts in these fields to advise you. You must be cautious though of these experts as there are quarks masquerading as experts too. The point is, instead of leaving these issues to chance, why not arm yourself with the necessary knowledge. Learning something new has never killed anyone. Read!

What Next?

Over the last three months, the number of people who’ve lost their jobs and those whose current status of employment remain shaky has shot up tremendously. One day you are living your best life and the next, someone pulls the rug of your feet abruptly.

In employment, loosing a job may arise from no fault of yours while at times, it could be your own making. Whichever the case, it is still a loss and it is painful. When this happens, we go through a number of emotions. The uncertainty the arises out of knowing that your main source of income has dried up suddenly has led many people, unfortunately, to take very drastic measures which have done very little to solve the problem. We all develop some sense of worth through the jobs we do and when this is suddenly taken away from us, it throws us into total confusion. You may be tempted to feel worthless when this happens. As sad as it may be though, that which has a beginning always has an end. The question then that we must ask ourselves when the inevitable happens is, what next?

First of all, just like any other loss, it is important that you take the time to feel your feelings. Whether it is anger, disappointment and whatever, allow yourself to grieve your loss. We all grieve in different ways; some, like me, prefer to cry our hearts out until the tears run dry. When you grieve, you are subconsciously acknowledging that a painful change has taken place and things are not okay anymore. One thing you must understand during your grief is that life goes on around you, it never stops! When you look around you in your moment of grief and despair, everyone will be moving along with their business like your pain does not matter. But life goes on. Yours must too……

You cannot grieve forever though. Like I have said, life goes on. You must make a decision to do something and restart your life. Hosting a pity party for yourself everyday can be exhausting, leave the party. It is time to re-evaluate yourself. Where were you in your career when things fell apart? Where would you like to move towards given an opportunity? With this in mind, start putting yourself together, update your CV and start looking for job openings that fit your line of thought and the direction you want to take. Remember, just because you do not have a job now does not mean that every job that has been advertised is for you. Seek jobs that fit your profile and would offer you a chance to move towards the direction you seek and apply for them. I must warn you though, you may not receive feedback from most of these applications you send out and somewhere along the way, you will feel like giving up. Should you get to this point, pause! It is okay to rest when you get tired but so must start again. You can’t afford to quit.

The other effective way of sending out applications is reaching out to your networks. Sometimes applying for random jobs don’t get you the results you expect. Reach out to people you know within your network and be specific on what you are seeking. Referrals is a very good way to get word out there. You never know, someone may just have been looking for your kind of skills. Building a professional network is very key. Depending on your career choice, different social media sites have offered us ways to network. LinkedIn is a great professional site to start from. Some have successfully used Facebook and Instagram. Seek out the ‘heavyweights’ in your field in these sites and read their thoughts. Comment on subjects that relate to your area of interest and basically just put yourself out there.

Staying positive at a time like this can be a bit challenging but very crucial. It is very easy to fall into depression but you must try to remain very active. One of the ways to do this is by staying physically fit. You may choose to run, ride your bike or just do the basic workouts that keep your body active. Check out YouTube for such exercises. There are also great exercise Apps that you may download that offer daily and weekly challenges that may interest you. Take up a challenge and push yourself. You might just enjoy it. Remember to speak to your trusted friends and family members about how you feel about your situation. When you hold it all in and keep everything to yourself, you are bound to feel so alone and this could lead to depression. I must emphasize that been as you wait for your ideal opportunity, should there be an opening for a job you know you can undertake and it is offered to you, take it up. Do not feel proud because it isn’t at the same standard you were used to. There is no shame is holding a decent job. If it feeds you and helps meet your needs no matter how small, other people’s opinions about it remain just that, their opinions. Also, taking up this offer doesn’t mean that you stop searching for that which you want so continue with those applications and networking.

There is no shame in loosing a job, it can happen to anyone. For as long us you are in employment, this is something that will happen to you at one point, if it hasn’t already happened. Over an entire period of your employment life, it could and will happen several times. Make peace with that fact! You must know one thing for sure though, sometimes, loosing your job can turn out to be the best thing that could happen to you. It could lead to you into starting your own company which can be very successful or even you joining a much better company and team with greater opportunities. Whatever happens, the best is yet to come, you just have to keep looking for it. As you set out on the next phase of your life, do not forge that you have a choice to make in every situation that you find yourself in; sit back, pity yourself and blame everyone for your misfortunes or make a conscious decision to start over no matter how tough it seems. All the best!!!