Gbenga Rufai, May 2015
Everyone desires to get a good job. Working in a Fortune 100 or 500 company, the ‘big 4s of the world’ or a multinational oil and gas corporation does a lot to your career forever. Even long after you have left such organizations, the effect of the employer brand on your profile is resounding. Not only does it create opportunities for new jobs for you, it also makes people interested in associating with you. This is probably because of the assumption that working in a top-notch organization validates your professional competence and the effect the company culture possibly has on your personal work ethic.
Unfortunately, the hard truth is that not everyone would get a chance to work with such top notch employer brands. While some are lucky to currently work with such ‘mega organizations’, others are not just that lucky. Quite a number of people would not even bother researching on what the employer is offering them if it’s a big brand. Many don’t even bother to ask what their EVP (Employee Value Proposition) is.
In my professional experience working with individuals and organizations, I have identified 2 critical things that every, and I mean exactly what I just said, EVERY employer must in the least sense offer their employees. While its great and I expect them to offer much more than these two things, I consider these 2, irrespective of the name it is called to be provided to employees.
An Opportunity to EARN and LEARN… Let me explain further.
An opportunity to earn is actually the foundational ingredient of the employment contract. Labor legislations the world over gives it a cardinal place and regards it as sacrosanct. An employee is worthy of his or her wages. Especially with market fluctuation and inflation rate hitting record highs, everyone deserves a decent salary to at least make ends meet though it appears to me as if the ends never meet. The fact remains this- CASH IS KING.
What makes a decent salary would be a discussion for another day. However, I believe that the ability of most employers to pay employees vary a lot. With a very difficult operating context, most businesses are literarily gasping for breath. While this is the case, employers should exploit the opportunity inherent in the TOTAL REWARD concept where an employee gets both financial and non-financial rewards. This helps to close the pay variations and gaps in the financial reward aspect. Little perks such as encouraging work life balance, free lunch, flexible work schedules etc. goes a long way to make employees feel rewarded.
The point is this, except for volunteers (and I feel even this category should be given a stipend to cover for feeding and transportation), every job must provide you with financial returns that can at least cater for the basic needs of food, clothing, shelter among others where possible.
A popular maxim goes thus: Give a man a fish and you have fed him once. Teach him how to fish and you have successfully fed him forever. Having worked in Learning & Development in the course of my career, I have come to appreciate the value of possessing the requisite knowledge and skills as an employee. Competence not only opens doors for you but also makes you marketable. It even makes older colleagues listen to you and brings you recognition for the value you deliver. Relevant and up to date domain knowledge where translated to required value, makes the individual a reference point and the toast of Head Hunters. I believe that every organization must provide this unique opportunity (directly or indirectly) to every of their employees. Whether they are new or existing ones.
When an organization provides the platform for their employees to learn, not only will they benefit from it through improved performance and succession plan, they also have contributed largely to the life of such employees and society at large. I get appalled when I meet people who complain that their organization doesn’t pay them ‘well’ nor give them learning opportunities. I wonder what exactly they are still doing with such organizations. I quite understand the need to have a place of employment to go to every morning. However, learning and developmental opportunities are key ingredients that must never be lost. For me, it’s critical because this is what stays with you forever and even positions you for better and far more lucrative offers.
Money may be stolen or lost but your professional competence is yours for life. This is what makes you attractive in the labor market and not only a fat paycheck.
If you have read this article to this point, you would fall into any of these 4 categories of employees.
Category 1: Your job provides earning not learning, I advise you to stay (it’s great to earn well) and begin to actively develop yourself either through online learning (MOOCS etc.). Take up additional projects within the organization that would help develop your professional competence.
Category 2: If the pay is paltry but your job is providing you good learning opportunities either through on the job assignments or formal training then keep at it for as long as you can hold your finances together. Give your best to the organization and see how the financial fortunes of the company improves such that you can earn what you desire and are worth. If symptoms persist like they say in pharmaceutical related adverts, consult not the physician this time but the job boards.
Category 3: Your job neither allows you earn or learn. This is a very very dangerous place to be. It’s time to re-evaluate your career aspirations and you might want to admit the fact that your job searching days are not yet over.
Category 4: Your job provides the opportunity to learn and earn. I dare say you are in good standing. While this might not be the peak of your career I advise you make the best out of the two opportunities especially because we are no longer in the era of job security but in EMPLOYABILITY SECURITY. Remain employable and desirable.
So which of these two does your organization provide for you? Feel free to chime in, I would love to hear your story.
See you at the top!