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Andrew Layman - Long Service-Is It To Be Celebrated?

Although long service is not as common as it used to be, it is still customary for organisations to reward and celebrate it. For example, a person who leaves UCT after 45 years' service may take a taxable cash reward of R12 000. In this regard, there is no distinction between a menial worker and a professor.
The question is: Is this cause for celebration? And, if so, what exactly is being celebrated? The citation will refer to loyalty, dedication, hard work, but what is the reality for the recipient?

This may be a very lengthy resentment at lack of recognition and opportunity, or perhaps even a denial that uncovered talents and abilities exist. It may also reflect a steady climb up a ladder of success, but this is less likely since long service is more frequently associated with stagnation.

Career stagnation is all-too-common in South Africa, especially among those who have not had the benefit of good education. One might reflect on a situation where an employee has the soul-destroying routine of a job which lacks meaning and diversity. It may enable them to pay the bills, thanks to general annual increases, but does little by way of wellness for the psyche and ego.

At the same time, and from the employer's point of view, the peak of productivity will have been long since reached. A national perspective is also relevant: we cannot afford to have people stagnating in their careers, for the number of young people entering the job market each year is in excess of 500 000. Some of these may undertake self-employment and become successful entrepreneurs, but statistics show this to be a slim chance.

Thus, there is a necessity for a pipeline of employment to be established where people make progress through formal employment - and then leave - to be self-employed or set up their own enterprises, thereby creating vacancies at the bottom end. At Catalyx, this is the concept of Upward Mobility.

It requires pro-active career management by employees who remain determined not to be constrained by a 'glass ceiling' which is of their own making. They must explore opportunities, build their skills base and actively climb the ladder. They need considerable encouragement to do these things. And this is where the employer has a very important role to play.

Many companies employ very sophisticated talent-management programmes, but they are often confined to executive levels to ensure adequate succession and leadership. Much less attention is given to the staff at lower levels where there are people with the potential to occupy more responsible positions, if only their abilities can be identified and nurtured. In a workplace, no less than a school, where insecure young, and even sometimes older, people avoid being the 'tall poppy', the employer should be searching for the real person, and his or her circumstances, hopes and aspirations. Here is the cleaner who could be a receptionist, a clerk who could be a secretary, a PA who could be a manager.

Catalyx has developed a programme of career development, based on a belief that people must move up, or move out. They may not gain a promotion immediately, but by committing to the development of their skills - a minimum of 24 hours of study a year is required - and by taking the value available in a mentorship programme, they are making progress in terms of the quality of their work, their commitment to it and in their greater ability to seek solutions beyond a rote task assigned to them.

This is low-cost, high return investment in human capital. The internet abounds in free online study opportunities, while mentorship is done internally by older and more experienced staff. Career advancement may take people into other companies and there is no resentment about that, for the bigger need is paramount, and for as long as the concept of Upward Mobility is embraced, the company will grow in strength.

Tel: 0861 888 985

 Andrew Layman Long Service-Is It To Be Celebrated.GIF
 Andrew Layman Long Service-Is It To Be Celebrated.pdf

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