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Take responsibility for your own future at work

To keep your job in today’s work environment, will take more than just showing up on time every morning – you must make yourself indispensible!

Nobody is immune against the effects of the international economic crisis. People lose their jobs on a daily basis, while those who are still lucky enough to be employed have to go full out to keep on receiving that salary check at the end of every month.


South Africa cannot avoid the results of the international economic crisis, warns André Venter, spokesperson of the trade union UASA.

“We live in a time that is repeatedly compared to the Great Depression of the previous century,” he says.

“Just when we thought that the depression of 2008 was over, we were hit by the consequences of the European debt crisis and the consequences of the ongoing conflict between the USA and Iran.

South Africa’s unemployment figure is the third highest in the world. Venter says businesses struggle as consumers close their wallets in an effort to survive these difficult times. Money has become cheaper than labour, making it easier for employers to replace workers with technology or machinery.

The story that this dark picture brings to the front is that employees should make themselves indispensible for employers in order to keep their jobs as long as possible, and hopefully permanently, says Venter.

Companies that can’t make a profit any longer, don’t have a choice but to lower costs. One of the easiest ways of doing this is to lay off personnel.

“To prevent becoming a victim of this, one must work on your own attitude first. Make yourself an asset to your employer. Your boss must think twice before he decides to let you go,” says Venter.

“As an employee it is your responsibility to be pro-active, take control of your life, stay relevant and lead the field.”

Venter has the following tips:

  • Always be prepared to learn new skills and to improve yourself. Find out what skills you need to do a better job. Don’t wait for your employer to suggest further training, take the lead and ask.
  • The world is changing continuously and it is your reponsibility to stay at the forefront of those changes. Adapt and adjust your skills. That way you also stay marketable.
  • Think of ways to add value to your place of work. Can you do more in less time? Can you think of ways to save the company money or to limit waste or damage? How can you make your own work and that of your colleagues easier and more pleasant?
  • Be prepared to walk the extra mile and do more than others. Make yourself available to work after hours if needed.
  • Know how your specific job fits in with the aims of the company. Exactly what role do you play in the processes of the industry you work in, the clients, the technology and the changes that may occur in future? Always be interested and innovative.

Venter says to have a job is a privilege and not a right.

“If you find yourself in a situation of continuous conflict with your overseer or your manager, the red lights should start to flicker. Remember you are there to work and not to sweat the little things.

“Nobody owes you a job. Take responsibility for your own future, act now and make sure you attitude is right. If not, your name might just appear on top of the list of people to be laid off or your may be subjected to a disciplinary hearing and fired,” says Venter.