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Lay-offs: A bitter reality in COVID-19 period

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I would like to start this piece by asking you a candid question: How are you prepared in case you are laid-off in your present place of work? How you answer this question would determine how you would last this trying and challenging time. How are you preparing for a lay-off in this trying times? It may sound absurd, but you would mark yourself as an endangered species if you are not preparing for a lay-off or at least a salary cut from your employer in these critical times.

Instead of seeing your employer as wicked for laying you off, you should first see yourself as inconsiderate for expecting your employer to continue to pay you the same salary in this lock down period. Losing a job is never fun, and that is the main reason why it should never catch you napping.

Recently, the media was flooded with news of lay-offs across the world. Many companies are laying off their employees as the world continues to battle COVID-19. Even strong organisations are crumbling under the weight of the pandemic.

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I read in the tabloid some few days ago that South Africa Airways was near collapse and plans to lay off 4,700 staff. Across the globe, the story is quite similar, as companies are laying off staff, cutting down salaries or even closing up totally. In these trying times, many businesses would be financially suffocated while some would also rise. COVID-19 is an equal opportunity disease, because as many are being laid off, some are also discovering themselves.

Imagine being laid off and you don’t have any means to keep getting money just because you were so dedicated to the company you have worked in for years to the extent that you neglected creating another stream of income as a show of loyalty.

I want to emphatically say that your loyalty must first be to your gift and talents before you ever consider loyalty to your place of work. Your employer can wake up one day and say your service is no longer needed, but your gift and talent cannot. Don’t wait until you are laid off before you start preparing, because it would be too late to prepare then.

See this period as a time to incubate your ideas and dreams, a time to work on your gifts, talents and unique abilities. There is no future in any job; your future is in the gifts and talents that God has given to you. Never make a job your future plan; think beyond your job, see into the future with your gifts.

This is a critical time when everybody has to discover his or her place. Until you find your place, you would continuously be displaced. People who have found their place in life would always employ those that are looking for a place to work. You would never find your place in the world by being like everyone else; your life was never meant to be lived like everyone else. Your place would always be connected to an unmet need or an opportunity to do good to others. This is the time to look inward for your gifts, talents, potentials and unique abilities and then look around for the problems you can solve.

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Our individual gift is an indicator of our purpose and calling in life. In the words of Sam Adeyemi: “You will only shine in the area of your gifting.” To live a fulfilled and impactful life, we need to work harder on our gift than our job. We need to discover our gift, develop it and sell it. We can retire from our jobs, but we cannot retire from our gift. We can get fired from our job, but we cannot be fired from our gift. There are some life situations that put a demand on our creativity. Some people actually need to be fired from their work place for them to be fired-up with their passion.

I also want to use this medium to tell all employers that employees deserve decent treatment. This is a trying time for all of us and any decision to lay off people or cut their salary should be done with a human face. In the company where I am privileged to be the Dean of Schools, we decided at the management meeting not to lay off the academic staff, but look at ways to maximise their output and also design a template to monitor the contributions of all staff members from home.

Napoleon Bonaparte said: “A leader is a dealer in hope.” The true essence of leadership in times of crisis is not to fire or lay off employees, but in firing up people’s morale to achieve common and audacious goals. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) simply means Chief Encouragement Officer.

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I also want to reach out to government to redesign work place policy in such a way that would allow people to engage in multiple streams of income. Most company’s policy in Nigeria doesn’t allow employees to have a second job or do personal business while working with them. This kind of system would always render people redundant in times like this.

Government should firm up job termination rights of its citizens to protect the vulnerable workforce. The Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment should educate the populace on their employment rights and also design a template to be used in this trying times to regulate and control imminent lay-offs.

Finally, it is good for you to know that you were born to do more than just go to work, collect salary and die. You are not a liability to the government; you are an asset to the world. Stop living casually, as those that live casually end up becoming casualties in life. Discover how to meet people’s need with your gifts and unique abilities. Discover your place through your gifts and nobody would be able to displace you.

I would like to recommend a book, Overcoming Crisis: The Secrets to Thriving in Challenging Times, written by Myles Munroe to everyone these trying times. Read this book and thank me later!

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