Monday, August 9, 2010

How Relevant Are You? ...In the 21st Century Workplace

Over the weekend, I spent a few hours with some old coworkers, many who faced the same fate at some point over the last several years.  They either voluntarily opted out of the workforce, or were laid off and have not been able to find comparable opportunities since. If you now find yourself in a similar position, or know someone who is, do any of these scenarios sound familiar?
  • Friend A has been laid off more than once in their quest to find a fresh start in this still very volatile economic environment.
  • Friend B is contracting while they continue their search for a permanent & better fit.
  • Friend C has resigned themselves to the fact that they may not return to work in the foreseeable future & have stopped looking altogether.  
  • Friend D continues to search, not wanting to settle for a suboptimal position & chooses the reality of long term unemployment, 20+ months out of work.
  • Friend E us actually thankful they don't have the pressure of work due to having other devastating health events come to light during this same period of time.
"The government's broadest definition of the unemployment rate, incorporating people who want jobs but did not search during the month (of July) was unchanged at 16.5%" - The New York Times, August 6, 2010

The other similarity between myself and the other ex-coworkers, is that we are all mothers ~ albeit in different stages of the journey and all are caretakers at heart.  As I imagine Seth Godin might say, we have been conditioned to believe that success is inherent in our ability to take care of our husbands, kids, homes & employers in Superwoman fashion.  In today's environment, even Superwoman clout is devalued ~ unless that woman includes herself on that list to be taken care of.

The idea of maintaining relevance in the 21st Century Workplace is not a male or female sensitive concept.  Many men who had become too comfortable in their roles & who had considerable tenure in their roles have been dramatically affected as well.  It's not unusual to see Mr. Mom on the playgrounds during the day or even the other end of the spectrum, men who have lost everything & are now homeless. When either sex has traditionally been the bigger bread winner in the family and experiences a major life event such as this, words that come to mind for many are depression, demoralized & disbelief. 

Their stories are not shocking anymore - they represent the new reality of today's workforce and those who have been bounced out of it.  The one thing all of these people perhaps could have done better is staying relevant.  Hindsight in this case is more than 20/20, it is a virtual lifeline.  There is no safety in security.  No comfort in complacency. No reward for selfless loyalty.  That thinking is so yesterday - even of our parent's generation.

People have come to realize that no one is going to look out for you - but you.  Call it "dog eat dog" or "survival of the fittest", whatever cliche you choose, but it's true nonetheless: you are the architect or your own destiny and the faster you own that responsibility, the better off you'll be.

Staying Relevant in the 21st Century Workplace can evolve out of a number of actions:
  • Continuing Education ~ Learning new skills, Executive Leadership Certificate Programs & Mini MBAs
  • Earning Advanced Degrees ~ Masters or Doctorate Studies (Don't wait any longer invest in yourself)
  • Networking ~ Both online & offline
  • Industry Association Memberships ~ Get Involved; Get Connected
  • Participation in target industry focused webinars ~ a productive use of your time at home
  • Volunteer work in the community or with your kid's schools or athletic programs
  • Blogging ~ Whether you wish to work on your writing skills or define your personal brand
  • Active Goal Setting ~ Writing them down & tracking process
  • Renewed focus on personal health & fitness goals
  • Wardrobe consulting ~ Bring someone in to evaluate how you are presenting yourself
So excluding you business owners who are already in charge of your own destiny; if you are one of those people who is feeling very safe & untouchable in your present role, ask yourself: "How Relevant Am I?" Are you comfortable with your answer? Just a little something to think about.

These two articles speak to this very situation... I recommend you take a look when you've finished reading this post: - Faces—and Fates—of the Jobless and Back to School


Tue, Aug 10, 2010 at 8:57 AM
Great post, Monika. Unfortunately, it seems we all have been affected somehow by the recent economic developments, be it through friends loosing their jobs, hard times to land projects, or other events. reading your blog I could not help but noticing "No reward for selfless loyalty." Although you are dead on, this saddens me to the core. What happened to building companies and organizations where we value the quality of life of employees? I believe it's too easy for employers, and employees alike, to only fight for their own cause. Unfortunately, it seems that the "take-care-of-me" scenario is one being shared with the world, think of shows as The Apprentice, where one needs to work in a team to only better themselves.

I have heard of many people leaving their jobs because of the pressure, and unbearable conditions they have to perform in, which seems to be an act of desperation when in the midst of a recession. So instead of having this happen to our co-workers, our friends, and family, how about we stand up and say, no more. How about we stop being selfish and only look out after "me" and say enough. How about we stop working gather in the cafeteria area and tell management, let us have a constructive dialogue as how we can best take our company forward. After all, it seems we, management and employees, all want the same, a healthy, profitable and great workplace. Let's take these times to bring us together building healthy organizations where everybody is valued. Wishful thinking, maybe. Impossible, absolutely not.

Thanks for a great post, Monika.


Maikel van de Mortel  l  Element Six Media  -  Creating Green Buzz™

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