In our parents’ time, joining the public sector ensured job security and perpetual employment (till retirement). Most of our parent’s generation stuck to one company throughout their working life. The economy was stable and upheavals were rare and contained.
During my time, doing MBA from one of the leading Business Schools in India and then getting into a multinational was the rage and we would stick with a company for a minimum of 3 years, and changed jobs maybe 6-10 times in a career spanning 40 years. During the mid life crisis, we would contemplate an alternate career maybe in the social sector or the entrepreneur bug would bite us. The economic upheavals were more frequent, and the impact could create job deficits and layoffs. However, most organisations still believed in 3-5 year plans. We could also sense the trends and change our profile accordingly to remain employed
In the next generation of employees, the economic upheavals will be more frequent and the impact on the jobs would be more severe.
- Organisations cannot come up with a strategy beyond a year, as the trend cannot be predicted, due to disruptions of technology and the economy as well as ‘black swans’
- Companies will therefore start projects in marketing, sales and production and then shut them down if the expected results do not come through or if there is a cash crunch
- Companies will outsource most of the humdrum activities like payroll, administration, even some aspects of sales and production, if these activities do not have any competitive advantage or are commoditised with no value-add
- There will be more inorganic growth by mergers and acquisitions
- Companies need to have flexibility in size and operations. This means that the workforce will always have a mix of permanent employees and consultants
We will therefore sometimes be unemployed and sometimes work as a consultant. Reality is that no company can guarantee permanent employment nor are they compelled to. If the market is down and the supply of MBAs is large, we have to accept what is given, else our pride will keep us unemployed.
This creates psychological issues, as our beliefs are governed by our parents’ beliefs – that permanent employment is good. There is a stigma attached to temporary jobs or being a consultant.
We have to accept that we may not get permanent employment. Acceptance is important and allows us to move on.
We should therefore:
- Invest in government backed investments like Public Provident Fund for long term capital creation
- Create and keep a stash equal to one year’s salary as an emergency fund
- In our CV, focus on what we know, learnt and achieved, not what designations we held
- Be ready to change jobs and locations, leaving the family behind
- Invest in skills that can provide additional employment including transferable skills
- Create and use skills that can keep you self-employed (be it music, teaching or something…) and keep the home fires burning, children’s education taken care of
- Be mentally prepared to move sideways, not necessarily upwards
- Build and maintain your network