Job loss under any circumstance is never an easy situation. And this remains true whether that final wage or salary comes from the private sector or the state coffers.
Often, productivity or the lack thereof, is only contemplated when rumours or whispers of pending cuts start to make the rounds. We would be less than honest if we attempted to suggest that public and private sector workers have had productivity and 100 per cent effort at the forefront of their daily endeavours.
The high instances of sick leave, in the public sector especially, absenteeism, elongated lunch breaks, and a host of other infelicities, speak to an employment environment in need of improvement. Many make a song and dance about entities such as the National Initiative for Service Excellence but its very existence says very little for the culture in which it exists.
Why should an entity be empowered to promote being NISE? One would have thought that with maintaining employment and earning a livelihood being inextricably linked to productivity, that employees would offer service excellence at all times as though their very lives depended on it. Something, we daresay, is very wrong if employees have to be encouraged to do the things that lead to client satisfaction and job retention.
But we acknowledge that job loss is a reality of life that sometimes reaches the doors of those who are diligent, hard workers, as well as those who should take out patents on sloth and indifference. We also acknowledge that some 20-year veterans in a job may have actually contributed four years to the job in real terms. That individual who is last-in might very well be the body and soul of the organization.
So what happens after job loss? What are the options? What is the best strategy to ensure that the inconvenience of being placed on the breadline is rectified with some degree of dispatch? We have seen examples where the initial shock of unemployment led some to wave their green papers in the media. We observed in some instances where those sent home sought comfort from the arms and ears of self-serving politicians who articulated their concerns but offered no employment solutions. Perhaps it might have been better to go after, or create, that employment opportunity immediately.
It is true that crying and complaining sometimes offer emotional relief. But beyond that, what? Within the context of recent lay-offs in the island, arguably the best piece of wisdom was recently enunciated by chief community development officer Sandra Greenidge.
“. . . You must not depend on the Government at all. If you do that, it means that you may be idle, you may waste time. It wouldn’t be because the Government didn’t come through, but because you can do more for yourself than Government can.
“You may lose out if you are depending totally on the Government. You may lose out on benefitting from that which you alone can do for yourself. You can do some things for yourself that are more important, more valuable and more precious than what the Government can do and that is no joke . . . . One of these things is using your mind to be creative and innovative. Follow your intuition and believe in yourself . . . ,” she said.
Sadly, these qualities only manifest themselves in times of adversity when circumstances change attitudes, encourage improved work ethics and promote greater productivity.
Someday we might evolve to a stage where we realize that these qualities also may protect jobs.