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The Future of Work Post-COVID-19: Future-Proof Yourself

Part Two: The Solutions

written by Patrick Ow June 22, 2020
The Future of Work Post-COVID-19: Future-Proof Yourself

Patrick Ow, shares what the future of work will look like in a post-COVID-19 world. This is Part Two, in which he offers solutions to future-proof yourself in this changing economy. 

Novel solutions to combating mental illness, boredom, and social isolation will emerge. This includes permanent changes in the way we use digital solutions and models of distributed governance.

There will be increases in digital government, online delivery of public services, electronic voting, telemedicine, digital trust and currencies, and mass online learning and teaching.

Workers need to acquire new skills and competencies to adapt to the emergence of new technologies and solutions. Hopefully, legal and regulatory barriers for adopting new technologies and innovations will also fall.

Cyber-crime will only increase when immature technologies are being rushed into service or people become complacent. This will expose weaknesses in the technologies used.

People and systems will become more vulnerable.

Economic booms can help fraudsters cover their cracks — from fictitious investment returns to exaggerated sales. But slowdowns and recessions can rip the covering off.

The crisis will see more fraud and corruption being uncovered, possibly impacting organisations and workers. It may also cause their demise.

A decade before the crisis of 2007–09, the dotcom crash exposed accounting sins at Enron and WorldCom perpetrated in the late 1990s. Both organisations went bust soon after together, with many job losses.

As more people are voluntarily surrendering their personal data for the common good (i.e., contact tracing), issues related to surveillance, censorship, and personal data will become more prominent. The use of drones, mobile phone positioning, and facial recognition will be more common.

The rights of workers will be compromised.

The Solutions to Future-Proof Yourself

The emergence of COVID-19 has and will change the world permanently and profoundly.

There will be vast political, economic, social, technological, legal, and environmental consequences that will last for many decades impacting many future generations.

Knowledge is only potential power if you do not take action to mitigate the negative impacts.

If you do not have a job now, get the necessary support and reach out for help. Network rigorously and seek out potential job leads and recommendations. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile.

While seeing news of layoffs can be disheartening, it is important to remember that there are employers out there who are hiring.

If you have a job, try to keep that job by adding more value to your employer. Forget about asking for a pay increase. It is not the time to be complacent — as the saying goes, we do not plan to fail but fail to plan for the inevitable.

Don’t wait until things are dire to take action. Updating your resume and collecting a few recommendations now can save you hours or days in the event that you do need to job search. This can give you a head-start if you’re part of widespread layoffs during an economic downturn.

And don’t act like the recession won’t touch your industry. Being blindsided can be a bad thing to happen to you.

Organisations are now operating in very difficult and challenging business environments. Increasing operational costs and decreasing profit margins are pushing organisations to the brink of bankruptcy or financial ruin.

Business and service models are continuously pivoting and changing. Organisations must be agile to adapt or they will perish.

Cost-cutting will be the first item on the “to-do list.” When salaries make out a large portion of the cost, many workers will feel vulnerable and very anxious about their job security.

When times are good, ineffective or unproductive workers can still be absorbed as part of the overall payroll cost. But when operating costs must be reduced, the performance of every employee and worker will be put under the termination microscope.

The Pareto principle tells us that only 20 percent of the workforce produces 80 percent of the organisational results. Therefore, organisations will only need to keep 20 percent of their current workforce in order to survive.

The bad news for many workers and job seekers is that most CFOs surveyed internationally by PwC will be considering implementing cost-containment measures (77 percent) and deferring or cancelling planned investments (65 percent), as shown in the graph below.

Here is the thing. When you buy an item from a shop, you exchange money or the price paid for the item purchased. Value is what a customer gets in exchange for the price paid. Raising or lowering the price of the item does not change the value of that item. Rather, it changes the customer’s incentive to purchase that item — i.e., the difference between value and price equals the customer’s incentive to purchase.

In the workplace, the price paid by an employer is the employee’s salary.

In return, the work that is performed by an employee is the value that is given in exchange for the salary received.

When the value given or created by the employee for the employer is much greater than the salary received, there is an incentive for that employer to continue keeping that employee on its payroll. There is employment and job security for that employee.

Are you creating value for your employer?

The key question to ask is, “Are you creating more value for your employer than the salary you are currently receiving?”

If your answer is “no,” then your job is not secure.

Also ask yourself this question, “Are there cheaper alternatives in the form of lower-paying colleagues or new hires who can provide the same value that is the same or similar to you?”

If your answer is “yes,” then your job is not secure.

The bottom line is that you can be made redundant easily when your employer needs to cut more cost from its operating expenses and save the organisation from financial ruin.

Therefore, to prepare well for post-COVID-19 and to remain continuously in employment, workers must be able and willing to create or give tangible value that is well above and beyond the price paid by their employers for their services.

Value creation will be the key to your future employability.

Remember The 3Cs — Courses, Community, and Coaching

Firstly, you must be pivoting and adapting to your ever-changing circumstances by continuously growing, changing, improving, upskilling, and upgrading yourself.

This could be done by attending courses and training programs — offline or online. There are so many free or low-cost MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) that you can choose from that will give you new skills and knowledge.

Understanding the gaps in your skills and knowledge will go a long way in positioning and branding yourself for future success, thereby securing your future employment.

The newly acquired skills and knowledge will enable you to continuously provide value to your employer. That value created must be well above the salary you receive.

Secondly, jobs of the future will increasingly be found and secured through networking.

It will be through the job recommendations of people who you know rather than through job advertisements that will open up doors for future job interviews.

Let’s face it, it is easier for hiring managers to get personal recommendations for potential new hires than spending their time going through hundreds of resumes that look the same.

Networking will be your key to your future employment.

So, brush up your social skills and get networking in various communities!

Studies have consistently shown that upwards of 80% of jobs are things people find on the so-called hidden job market. Jobs aren’t posted or advertised online. That means that people who find these jobs are being referred by people they know and hear about them in professional networks and communities.

You also need to intentionally give value to the people who may be able to recommend you for future jobs. Having a servant (giving) attitude will go a long way. For example, send them useful research papers via LinkedIn.

Finally, finding or keeping a job is hard work.

It is also getting complex and sophisticated. As such, you must have a focused strategy and practical tactics to be successful.

Whether you are at the beginning, middle, or nearing the end of your career, working with a coach or mentor can be beneficial for your short- and long-term career success.

Coaches can help you navigate through the complexities and technicalities of searching, networking, and interviewing for a potential job. They can help you with branding and communication through your resume, cover letter, and interaction styles. They can significantly enhance your value and short-cutting your job search process.

It’s really your choice if you’re going to be happy, healthy, or financially successful.

When you take daily steps toward your goals, your confidence will increase. The belief that you will succeed will grow.

You will change.

And you will succeed.

This is Part Two of a two-part series. Find Part One here.

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